The Pakistan Navy has commissioned the fourth F-22P Sword/Zulfiquar-class frigate, PNS Aslat (254), during a ceremony held at a naval shipyard in the southern port city of Karachi, Pakistan.
Commissioning of the ship marks completion of the $750m technology-transfer contract signed in 2005 between Pakistan's Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) and China Shipbuilding Trading Co (CSTC).
The contract includes construction of three F-22P ships, PNS Zulfiqar, Shamsher and Saif in China, as well as transfer of technology for the fourth ship and construction at Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KSEW) for the Pakistan Navy.
Powered by four main diesel engines, the 2,500t multi-mission Sword-class frigates can operate in multi-threat environments and are armed with long-range surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles to simultaneously attack multiple targets.
The F-22P vessels can be deployed for air defence of a force operating at sea or in convoy, interdiction of hostile surface combatants, commerce raiding, patrolling, protection of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and undertaking heliborne operations.
Capable of accommodating 200 personnel, the ships are also armed with a single 76.2mm main gun, eight C-802/CSS-N-8 sub-sonic Saccade anti-ship missiles, an eight-round FM-90 surface-to-air missile (SAM) and two hangar-top type 730B 30mm close-in weapon system (CIWS) units.
PNS Aslat is also fitted with long-range sensors, navigational radars and trackers, sonars, electronic warfare systems, counter measures (ESM/ECM) systems and advanced command and control systems.
In addition to enhancing the country's indigenous shipbuilding potential, the Sword-class frigates are expected to boost Pakistan Navy's maritime defence capabilities in multi-threat environments.
Image: Pakistan Navy's F-22P frigate equipped with a 76.2mm main gun. Photo: courtesy of Mak Hon Keong.