China has started building an advanced warship that would be exported to Pakistan under a defence agreement between the neighbouring countries, China Daily reported on Wednesday.
The newspaper, that quoted China State Shipbuilding Corp — one of the largest state-owned defence contractor — said that the construction of the ship had started in the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai and is a version of China's most advanced warship.
Though the Chinese corporation did not specify the type, China Daily quoted Pakistan Navy as saying that the ship's class is Type 054AP, that is based on China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's Type 054A frigate. Pakistan has ordered four such ships, the newspaper said, quoting a statement by the Pakistan Navy.
In June last year, Pakistan Navy had announced that it was purchasing two multirole Type 054A frigates from China for bolstering its war-fighting capability. The navy had said that Pakistan’s fleet of Type054A warships would grow to four by 2021.
The PLA Navy has about 30 of the Type 054A ships, each of which has a loaded displacement of 4,000 metric tonnes and is equipped with advanced radars and missiles.
According to a researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, Cao Weidong, it appeared that the equipment installed on the ships will be Chinese, which shows China's "progress in the industry and the Pakistani Navy's confidence in our technology and capability". Previously, Pakistan would always ask its Chinese contractors to install Western radars and weaponry as it believed that West's technology was superior to China's, Weidong said.
"I believe the reason they chose our type is that ours is one of the few that can carry out all of the air-defence, anti-ship and anti-submarine tasks," he said, adding that he believed that the ships will improve Pakistan's naval defence.
The warship will be China's largest and most powerful vessel export, China Daily quoted an insider in China's shipbuilding sector as saying.
"The service of Type 054APs will double the combat power of the Pakistani Navy's surface fleet," the source told the newspaper.