American President Theodore Roosevelt famously said “A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace”, a spirit rightly manifested in Pakistan’s Navy.
Since Independence, Pakistan Navy has been the guarantor of peace in the Indian Ocean. It has not only managed to thwart maritime threats but also played its role to maintain regional peace. To maintain peace and balance, PN has kept itself abreast with advanced frigates, submarines, and necessary maritime tools.
In this regard, it marked another mile with the induction of PNS Thugrul in its fleet. The frigate delivered by China to Pakistan is the largest and most advanced warship it has ever exported. (Frigates are multi-role warships that are capable of carrying out anti-aircraft, anti-ship, and anti-submarine missions)
The commissioning of the ship was carried out under the agreement signed in 2017 with China Shipbuilding Trading Company Ltd. for the delivery of two type-054 A/P frigates which later on in 2018, were updated to four. The move signifies the friendship and the strategic cooperation between China and Pakistan.
The Frigate named PNS Thurgrul and sister ships are part of Pakistan’s navy modernization program carried out to counter 21st-century maritime threats.
SPECIFICATION OF PNS THUGRUL
The Tughril is a derivative of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s Type 054A class frigate. Since 2008, at least 30 Type 054A frigates have entered service with the PLAN, according to the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI).
According to a statement by Pakistan Navy,
“The PNS Tughril is the first hull of four Type 054 frigates being constructed for the Pakistan Navy, the ship is a technologically advanced and highly capable platform with enormous surface-to-surface, surface-to-air, and underwater firepower, besides extensive surveillance potentials.
Being equipped with state-of-the-art combat management and an electronic warfare system along with modern self-defense capabilities, the Type 054A/P frigate can simultaneously execute a number of naval warfare missions in a highly intense multi-threat environment, the statement said.
The frigate is 134 meters long and 16 meters wide. The usual displacement is 3,600 tonnes, while the maximum displacement is roughly 4,000 tonnes. A total of 165 people work on each ship.
According to reports, PN’s Type 054A will be equipped with the Chinese-made HQ-16 surface-to-air missile, which has a range of roughly 70 Km and can strike jets and anti-ship missiles. Anti-ship cruise missiles and anti-submarine torpedoes are also on board.
Meanwhile, the Tughril is the first Pakistani Navy ship to be armed with a surface-to-air missile vertical launch system. As numerous missiles are kept in a ready-to-fire cell, a vertical launch system can fire them all at the same.
The Tughril is thought to be equipped with a vertical launch mechanism having 32 missile-launching cells.
According to the head of the Pakistan Navy Mission overseeing construction of the 054A/P frigate, Commodore Rashid Mehmood Sheikh, said that the PNS Tughril, being a multi-mission capable frigate, will form the mainstay of the Pakistan Navy fleet while bolstering the Pakistan Navy’s maritime defense capabilities.
According to Global Times (China), the PN’s type 054A has better air defense capability than those in service in PLAN. Type 054A/P is equipped with an improved radar system and missiles with a longer range. Similarly, its HHQ-16 medium-range air defense missiles provide an area defense capability.
Pakistan’s Navy Modernisation Program
Pakistan’s geostrategic location at the neck of the Arabian Sea, adjacent to the Arabian Gulf trade routes, as well as its ambitions to become a trade conduit to China and Central Asia via the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, necessitate it playing an increasingly important role in ensuring regional maritime security. For this purpose, Pakistan’s Navy has been undergoing a modernization program that underlies the following salient features;
- Reorganization of the Naval Forces.
- The Navy will be expanded to include more than 50 warships (more than doubling major surface combatants to 20, with plans for six additional large offshore patrol vessels).
- The transfer of eight Chinese Hangor submarines.
- The hypersonic P282 ship-launched anti-ship/land-attack ballistic missile is being developed.
- Creating the Naval Research and Development Institute to foster the development of indigenous design talent.
- Ten modified commercial jets will replace the P-3C Orion patrol planes.
- Purchasing 20 indigenous gunboats and medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned combat aerial aircraft.
PAKISTAN TOWARDS AN ADVANCED NAVY
Pakistan’s navy has always been a part of international security activities. It has been a member of the American-led Combined Maritime Forces, primarily Combined Task Force 150 and Combined Task Force 151, which fights piracy. It has also established a Regional Maritime Security Patrol to guarantee that trade channels are secure and open.
It’s beefing up patrol capabilities to protect the country’s exclusive economic zone and maritime interests. In the face of India’s naval modernization, it is likewise undertaking considerable recapitalization to preserve deterrent credibility.
The Pakistan Navy has relied on China and Turkey to upgrade its fleets and induct new ships. With rising challenges and a changing international environment, the Pakistan Navy has expanded its responsibility in safeguarding the country’s maritime security and meeting its international maritime commitments.
Syed Ali Abbas is a Research Assistant at the Center for International Strategic Studies Islamabad and co-founding editor of Global Defense Insight. He tweets @smalinaqvi05.