ISLAMABAD, Aug 31: The US has offered Perry-class frigates for sale to Pakistan, disclosed Chief of the Naval Staff Shahid Karimullah here on Wednesday. He said the offer of sale “has been made by the US Navy” to the Pakistan Navy, adding that the price of the frigates will be negotiated once the US Congress gives its approval.
The Chief of the Naval Staff was talking to newsmen after launching ceremony of a book ‘SEA PHOENIX - A True Submarine Story’ by Rear Admiral (retd) Zahir Shah.
Named after an American naval hero, Oliver Hazard Perry, the frigates were designed by the US in the 1970s as general-purpose escort vessels. Although some Perry-class vessels are slated to remain in US service for years, many others are being de-commissioned and transferred to other countries where the same are being modernized.
Frigates are anti-submarine warfare combatants that are mainly used for escort missions.
The naval chief said Pakistan was also acquiring four P-22 F frigates from China. He said three of these frigates will be built in China and the fourth in Pakistan. These frigates will form part of the Pakistan Navy’s fleet by 2013. He said since the delivery of the first Chinese frigate was to take some three years, a good stop-gap arrangement could be made by acquiring some Perry-class frigates, which were not as efficient as the Chinese P-22-Fs.
He said talks to acquire frigates from the United Kingdom were over as the price demanded by the UK was not acceptable to Pakistan. Now the UK has sold the same to Chile.
He said the Pakistan Navy, which was currently weak in terms of units, will emerge as a balanced and powerful force. Drawing a comparison with India, he said the Eastern neighbour had 21 submarines as compared to 5 of Pakistan.
He said no government in the past had concentrated on strengthening the Pakistan Navy. He gave the credit to President Pervez Musharraf for his support to the Navy. He, however, said the recovery will take some time as it could not be done overnight.
Answering a question, he said at some stage Pakistan will have to develop its own nuclear submarine as no country was ready to provide the same to Islamabad.
Admiral Shahid Karimullah said Pakistan Navy had received eight P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft free of cost from the United States.
He said he US Navy had signed the transfer document making the aircraft a property of the Pakistan government. With the induction of eight P-3Cs, the Navy’s existing fleet of P-3Cs will grow to 10 aircraft. The two P-3Cs already with the Navy were at present undergoing overhaul in Pakistan with US assistance and were expected to be operational by the end of this year.
P-3C Orion is a long-range maritime patrol aircraft with an endurance of about 18 hours. It can carry Harpoon missiles. The eight aircraft now being inducted would be fitted with modern avionics and mission systems by Lockheed Martin, the manufacturers of P-3C Orion. The expenses of modification of aircraft avionics systems will be met mostly from the US military aid.
The naval chief termed the aircraft acquisition a significant achievement. They would augment Pakistan Navy’s capability to actively monitor its areas of interest at sea and add a new dimension to the offensive punch of the Naval fleet, he said.
Admiral Karimullah said provision of these aircraft was indicative of strong Pakistan-US relations and hoped that the defence cooperation between the navies of the two countries would further increase in times to come.
Answering a question, he said the first aircraft will be delivered to Pakistan in December followed by another in January-February 2006.