Karachi: China on Thursday delivered the first of four state-of-the-art frigates commissioned by nuclear-armed Pakistan from top ally Beijing, a naval spokesman said.
“The first F-22P Frigate constructed for the Pakistan navy at the Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai was delivered to Pakistan on Thursday,” said Lieutenant Commander Shakeel Ahmed.
In keeping with contracts signed between China and Pakistan in 2005, the frigates will be equipped with anti-submarine helicopters, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles and other defence systems.
“The F-22P frigates will not only enhance the war fighting potential of the Pakistan navy but will also strengthen the indigenous ship-building capability of the country,” said Ahmed.
The announcement came two days after Pakistan hit out at India, branding its rival’s first nuclear-powered submarine “detrimental” to regional peace and vowing to take “appropriate steps” to maintain a “strategic balance”.
Relations between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan have plummeted since Islamist gunmen killed 166 people in Mumbai last November, attacks that New Delhi blamed on banned Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
India on Sunday launched the first of five planned submarines by naming the 6,000-tonne INS Arihant (Destroyer of Enemies), powered by an 85-megawatt nuclear reactor that can reach 44 kilometres an hour (24 knots).
China is Pakistan’s strongest ally and Islamabad relies heavily on Beijing for its defence needs.
Many Chinese companies operate in Pakistan and China is involved in the construction of a deep-sea port at Gwadar on the Arabian Sea.