India left stunned as China delivers most advanced warship to Pakistan

South China Sea belongs to everyone says German naval chief

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The frigate, named PNS Tughril, was delivered in a commissioning ceremony in Shanghai on Monday and more are expected to come. This is the first of four frigates being constructed by China for the Pakistan Navy.

Moin Ul-Haque, the Pakistani Ambassador to China, was present at the commissioning ceremony earlier this week.

He said the frigate will ensure a balance of power in the Indian Ocean, according to the Times of India.

PNS Tughril is a type 054A/P frigate and is said to be the most powerful surface vessel planned under Pakistan’s programme of navy modernisation.

Richard Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, told Defence News that the 054A/P is equipped with a “CM-401 hypersonic-speed capable anti-ship ballistic missile”, a short-range ballistic missile capable of manoeuvring to avoid interception.

He added that the frigate is the “first Chinese export warship to feature a 32-cell vertical launch system that can be armed with an array of anti-aircraft missiles, ship and land-attack cruise missiles and anti-submarine missiles, as they are on PLA Navy Type 054A frigates”.

PNS Tughril will constitute a “considerable improvement” in the capabilities of the Pakistani Navy, according to naval expert Tom Waldwyn.

But he added that India’s Navy “maintains a significant numbers and capability advantage over Pakistan”.

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Despite this concession, India is likely to remain concerned by the prospect of a Pakistan backed up by China, building its presence on India’s doorstep.

China is Pakistan’s primary weapons supplier and has worked to boost the country’s airforce along with its navy.

Along with the four new frigates, China is set to provide Pakistan with eight new submarines, according to Pakistani Chief Admiral M Amjad Khan Niazi.

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Putting Pakistan’s improved strength into context, Global Firepower Index, which ranks India as the fourth in the world in terms of military strength, reports that the country’s navy possesses 13 frigates, 17 submarines and 139 patrol vessels.

Pakistan, on the other hand, is ranked 10th and currently possesses eight frigates, nine submarines and 49 patrol vessels.

Mr Ul-Haque praised China for delivering the first of four frigates in a timely fashion despite the Covid pandemic.

The Pakistan Navy did not, however, respond to Defence News when it asked if the deliveries of the final three frigates were on schedule.

As well and ramping up Pakistan’s military capabilities, China is moving closer to India by building new military bases.

China recently built a base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa in the Indian Ocean and also acquired Pakistan’s Gwadar port in the Arabian Sea, according to the Times of India.

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