In Pictures: After 1971, how China, France, UK helped build Pakistan Navy

 | Updated: Mar 08, 2019, 12:10 PM IST

In recent years China has helped to boost Pakistan's navy in a big way

Pakistan Navy

Last year a China daily reported China was developing "most advanced" naval warships for the Pakistan Navy in order to ensure "balance of power" in the strategic Indian Ocean.

The ships were the Type 054AP, Pakistan had apparently ordered four ships to boost its Naval arsenal. 

Once constructed, the warship "will be one of the largest and technologically advanced platforms of the Pakistani Navy and strengthen the country's capability to respond to future challenges, maintain peace and stability and the balance of power in the Indian Ocean region," the Chinese daily claimed. 

The contract was being undertaken by state-run China State Shipbuilding Corporation. 

The report also asserted that the Type 054AP was the "best frigate" in service with the PLA Navy. The Pakistani Army wanted to equip the Chinese ships with western radars and weapons in order to ensure the best output for its warships, a scary prospect for the Indian Navy.


Pakistan Navy

A Pakistani media report had said three years ago that China would be providing the Pakistani Navy with at least eight submarines by 2028 with four manufactured in China and the other four within the country.

Pakistan's Chief Project Director of Submarine had informed National Assembly Standing Committee on the development. The director said Pakistan had already signed the agreement.

The four submarines to be built inside Pakistan would be taken up at the Karachi Shipyard. Last year, China had sold two naval ships to Pakistan in order to "protect" the  Gwadar port in Balochistan which is part of the strategic China-Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC).

China claimed it was a "normal military trade cooperation with the two countries and complies with the international commitments of the two countries". 

The deal not only helps Pakistan to boost its Naval strength but also helps China to park its navy ships to secure the crucial sea lanes which it hopes will form part of the network to link the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) connecting Asia to Africa and Europe.


Pakistan Navy

Not just China, Europe has been instrumental in helping to build the Pakistan Navy. In 1990's, the UK government had sold Pakistan six Type 21 frigates. In 1993-94, the UK government had sold ex-RN AMAZON class frigates to Pakistan.

France sold the Agosta 90B-class submarine to Pakistan in 1997 even as India protested.

The Agosta 90B-class submarine was the forerunner of France's Scorpène class submarines which India commissioned in 2017 known in India as INS Kalvari. French-designed Scorpene class INS Khanderi and INS Karanj are due to commissioned in the Indian Navy this year.

The US too provided support to the Pakistan Navy inviting it for various naval drills and provided maritime patrol aircraft after it lifted the arms embargo. The US help to Pakistan had in fact begun with the 1980s as it sold warships to the Pak Navy, however, the Pressler Amendment disallowed help to Pak military severely hampering the Pakistan's Navy.

After the September 11th terror attacks, the US resumed its help to the Pakistan Navy.


Pakistan Navy

As Pakistan tried to build its Navy after a shattering defeat in the 1971 India-Pak war, the Pakistan government sought European help in a big way. France came forward to supply the 4 Daphne and 2 Agosta class submarines.

In the 80s, France helped the Pakistan Navy with the Dassault Mirage 5 for its ships, including the  Exocet missiles. The Pakistan Air Force in the 90s later donated the Mirage 5 to the army helping it to build a combat squadron in 2005. 

In the late 90s and early 2000, the Pakistan Navy increasingly turned to the Chinese PLA Navy for help. Chinese local media reported that the Xi government is considering selling an aircraft carrier to Pakistan -  a decision which would tilt the naval "balance" in Pakistan favour against India in the Indian Ocean.

The Chinese media said the country was thinking of selling the Soviet-era aircraft carrier The Liaoning to Pakistan. India currently has just one aircraft carrier- the Soviet-built INS Vikramaditya which was commissioned into the Indian navy in 2013.

India is still building its second aircraft carrier but it has been delayed due to lack of budget allocation even though Vice-Admiral Karambir Singh had said last year that he expected to be inducted into the Indian Navy in 2020 and will be based with the Eastern Naval Command.


Pakistan Navy

India and Pakistan were last engaged in a war at sea during the 1971 war. The war happened from 3 December 1971 to 16 December 1971, when the Indian Navy launched its first ever anti-ship missiles, which included three Vidyut-class missile boats INS Nipat, INS Nirghat and INS Veer, two anti-submarine Arnala class corvettes, INS Kiltan and INS Katchall, and a tanker of the Indian Navy, on Pakistan's port city of Karachi. 

It was named Operation Trident.

In 90 minutes, the Indian navy attacked the Karachi Harbour, which had the Pakistani Navy headquarters as well as oil storage - killing over 5 Pakistani navel representatives and injuring over 700 men, destroying a minesweeper, a destroyer, a cargo vessel carrying ammunition, and fuel storage tanks. 

The attack deeply scarred the Pakistan Navy.


Pakistan Navy

In recent years China has helped to boost Pakistan's navy in a big way. Last month, the Pakistan Navy along with China, Russia and the US participated in a naval exercise off Karachi even as observers from several other countries participated.

Last year in a press release the Pakistan Navy had stated that China's Type 054A/P which was being built at Hudong-Zhonghua (HZ) Shipyard China was  considered the "best frigate in service with China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy."

"Steel cutting ceremony of first warship of Type 054 A/P Frigates Project being built for Pakistan Navy was held at Hudong-Zhonghua (HZ) Shipyard China," Pakistan's Navy press release stated. It informed that Vice Admiral Kaleem Shaukat attended the ceremony as a chief guest.


Pakistan Navy

Pakistan has also developed underwater missile launch capability. Two years ago it successfully conducted the Babur III missile from an underwater mobile platform. Reports later said the missile would be incorporated into French built Agosta 90B class submarine.

Pakistan's ISPR had declared two years ago that it had test-fired the Harbah anti-ship missile from the PNS Himmat. The Pakistan Navy had also test-fired the Zarb, anti-ship cruise missile three years ago and later inducted it into the Navy.


Pakistan Navy

India, on the other hand, has had its own headache over modernisation of the Navy. Defence constraints and lack of a consistent indigenized programme has hampered its progress even as China has developed its naval force rapidly.

In order to save costs and build its own, India's former defence minister Manohar Parrikar had presented an indigenization plan for the navy under: “Indian Naval Indigenisation Plan (INIP) 2015-2030”.

Although construction of the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier - INS Vikrant is currently underway but it still does not have a deadline on induction. Even then, the Indian navy is one of the largest in the world which possesses an array of warships, ballistic marine submarines including a  nuclear-powered submarine - the Arihant class which was commissioned into service three years ago.