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Pakistan Navy buying vessels for special operations from US company

Updated November 02, 2017

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A 75 Meter Swift Corvette.— Courtesy: swiftships.com
A 75 Meter Swift Corvette.— Courtesy: swiftships.com

WASHINGTON: Pakistan Navy has placed an order for two 75m Swift Corvettes from a US-based shipbuilding company, Swiftships, said the company’s Chief Executive Officer Shehraze Shah.

In an interview with a defence and security magazine Mönch, Mr Shah said that the Pakistan Navy had also purchased Swiftships’ 11m Special Operation Craft Riverine, which was deployed for counterinsurgency and drug-interdiction missions.

Pakistan also retains the option to order two more 75m Swift Corvettes in 2020.

“Swiftships has partnered with Lockheed Martin to offer these 1,500 to 2,000 ton ships to the client,” said Mr Shah, adding that the corvettes will be equipped with Lockheed Martin’s combat management system.

Pakistan is expected to use these ships in its Combined Task Force deployments.

The 75m corvette is a multi-purpose platform for addressing both conventional and asymmetrical security threats. According to Swiftships, the corvette can also deploy rigid-hulled inflatable boats for special operation forces missions and for board, search and seizure operations.

At a speed of 15 knots (27.74km per hour), the corvette has a range of 4,000 nm and endurance of 25 days. It has a top speed of 30 knots. The corvette can operate in sea conditions of up to Sea State 6, which is very rough with four to six metres high waves.

If built with steel, the Swift Corvette would have a displacement of 1,640 tons, while an aluminium superstructure would enable for a displacement of under 1,000 tons and speed of over 30 knots.

A Pakistan specific defence and analysis group, Quwa, reported that in June, the Pakistan Navy signed an order for two offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) from Damen Shipyards. One of these will be built at the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW).

The intended role for the Damen OPVs is “anti-surface [and] anti-air operations, maritime security operations, day [and] night helicopter operations, combat search and rescue, and surveillance and intelligence gathering operations,” the report added.

Analysing the Swiftships’ description of the corvette, Quwa noted that the “Pakistan Navy is acquiring the corvette to augment the Damen OPVs in the aforementioned roles”.

The corvette is configurable with a 76mm main gun, two 30mm guns, anti-ship missiles (AShM), Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) for very short-range air defence (VSHORAD) coverage, decoy launchers and two Mk93 50 calibre mounts with Mk16 tripods. It also has an aft deck and hangar sufficient for a utility helicopter. It can also deploy ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which are also in service with the navy.

Quwa reported that the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency is taking delivery of six new Chinese maritime patrol vessels (MPV) — two 1,500-ton and four 600-ton MPV designs. These could assume law enforcement, exclusive economic zone monitoring and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2017