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Pakistan’s Chinese Arms Purchases Start Taking Shape

The first of Pakistan’s big-ticket arms acquisitions from China are starting to take shape. From new multi-mission frigates and submarines to armoured vehicles and multi-role combat aircraft, Pakistan will induct these new systems through the 2020s. In each of these procurement streams, China is the lead supplier.

China Launches First Type 054A/P Frigate for Pakistan Navy

On 23 August 2020, the Pakistan Navy (PN) Director General of Public Relations (DGPR), Rear Admiral M. Arshid Javed, announced through social media that China Shipbuilding Trading Co., Ltd. (CSTC) launched Pakistan’s first Type 054A/P frigate at the Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard.

Pakistan ordered four Type 054A/Ps in 2017 and 2018. CSTC cut the steel of the first two frigates in 2018, with the second two ships following in 2019. It laid the keel of the second ship in April 2020. According to the press releases at the time Pakistan signed its contracts, the PN was to receive all four ships by 2021[1] [end of excerpt, subscribe to Quwa Premium to read the full article].

Pakistan Army Records First VT4-Related Deliveries

According to open source export-import (EXIM) logs, the Pakistan Army’s (PA) ammunition depot at Malir Cantonment took delivery of high-explosive, anti-tank (HEAT) rounds for the VT4 main battle tank (MBT) on 10 May 2020.

This coincides with reports of VT4 MBT deliveries to the PA, which also emerged in the same month. Multiple sources told Quwa that the PA ordered 176 VT4s for $859 million US, with plans to acquire a total of 300 VT4s from NORINCO in the coming years [end of excerpt, subscribe to Quwa Premium to read the full article].

Pakistan Air Force Waits for JF-17 Block-III

Currently, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is working towards inducting the JF-17 Block-III, the most significant upgrade of its mainstay multi-role fighter. Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group’s (CAIG) carried out the JF-17 Block-III’s test flight in December 2019.

Besides acknowledgement by the PAF of selecting the KLJ-7A radar for the Block-III, there have been no additional updates. Based on previously revealed information, production of the first two units had been underway since at least 2019, and they were due for delivery in 2020. From 2021 to 2024, the PAF was to receive 12 units a year.[2] It is unclear if the coronavirus pandemic has caused delays in the program, though it is possible, and this may delay the Block-III program by a factor of months [end of excerpt, subscribe to Quwa Premium to read the full article].

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For More Information on Pakistan’s Major Defence Programs, See:

[1] “Pakistan Signs Contract to Acquire Two Chinese Naval Warships”. Associated Press of Pakistan. 01 June 2018. URL: (Last Accessed: 02 June 2018).

[2] Alan Warnes. “JF-17 Thunder – Lightning Strikes Twice.” Air International Online. 15 June 2019. URL: