Friday, September 23, 2011

China builds a patrol ship for Pakistani Navy

It looks quite stealthy.

ISLAMABAD - The first of a pair of new Azmat-class fast attack craft built by China Shipbuilding Industry Corp. (CSOC) for the Pakistan Navy was launched by Pakistani naval chief Adm. Noman Bashir, at the Xhinggang shipyard in Tianjin, China, on Sept. 20.

The 500-600 ton, 60-meter craft carries eight C-802A/CSS-N-8 Saccade anti-ship missiles.

A tender for two fast-attack craft was released in February 2010. In December 2010, a contract for an undisclosed amount was awarded to CSOC. Construction commenced in March 2011, and according to the Associated Press of Pakistan, PNS Azmat is expected to enter service by April 2012.

Images purported to be of the vessel show it to have a stealthy, angled, slab-sided superstructure. No other confirmed details are available, however.

A second vessel in the class is due to be constructed in Karachi.

Usman Shabbir of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank said the new fast-attack craft comes at a time when the Pakistan Navy is trying to modernize its capabilities while facing financial hardship.

Specifically, the Navy will use Azmat to "secure areas closer to shore, freeing up larger warships for other normal peacetime patrol duties or international commitments such as CTF-150 and CTF-151," which are the combined task forces patrolling waters near the Horn of Africa.

Shabbir did note the vessel's light air defense armament, though, saying it did not offer much protection.

Nevertheless, he welcomed its launch and said the new vessel is a further sign of Pakistan's increasing reliance on China for its defense needs.

"The Sino-Pak naval construction relationship is allowing this to happen", he said.

"This part of the overall Sino-Pak relationship will expand and deepen over time with more warships of various types, and the submarines that are currently undergoing construction in China for Pakistan," he said.

Indeed, during the launch ceremony, Bashir stated the present geo-political situation demanded further strengthening of Pakistan-China relations in order to safeguard regional peace, stability and prosperity. The launch of Azmat is a sign of the deepening Sino-Pak relationship, he said, stating, "This relationship over the years has matured in all fields, particularly in defense."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

China deploys new CSS-5 MRBM missile in Tibet

CSS-5 MRBM missile is solid fueled, with a range believed to be about 1,700 kilometres (1,100 mi). The new GPS-based guidance system has reduced the missile’s CEP to 30~40m, enabling it for precision-strike missions.

China has deployed more advanced and survivable solid-fuel nuclear capable CSS-5 MRBM missiles against India as a 'deterrent posture', Pentagon has said warning that a high degree of mistrust continues to strain their bilateral ties.

The PLA has replaced liquid-fueled, nuclear-capable CSS-2 IRBMs with more advanced and survivable solid-fueled CSS-5 MRBM systems to strengthen its deterrent posture relative to India, the Pentagon has said in its annual report on Chinese military build up to the Congress.

The report also says that Beijing is pumping in huge investments on border infrastructure developments laying more roads and rail network along the Sino-Indian border.

"Although this construction is primarily aimed at facilitating economic development in western China, improved roads could also support PLA border defense operations," it said.

Pentagon said that New Delhi remains concerned by China's close military ties with Pakistan and its growing footprints in the Indian Ocean, Central Asia and Africa.

The report noted that Pakistan continued to be China's primary customer for conventional weapons and sales to Islamabad included newly rolled out JF-17 fighters with production facilities, F-22P frigates with helicopters, early warning and control aircraft, tanks, K-8 trainers, F-7 fighters, air-to-air missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles and missile technologies.

On Sino-Indian ties, Pentagon said, that though bilateral dialogue between the two nations increased, border tensions remained an irritant.

"China deepened its ties with India through increased trade and high-level dialogues in 2010, though border tensions remained an irritant in the bilateral relationship. Bilateral trade in 2010 reached nearly USD 60 billion," Pentagon said.

The two neighbours have held several rounds of dialogue over disputed territorial claims. Sino-Indian defense ties were institutionalised in 2007 with the establishment of an Annual Defense Dialogue, the report said.

"Though India cancelled high-level military exchanges following China's denial of visa to a senior Indian general in 2010, both sides agreed to resume exchanges in April 2011," the Pentagon said.

The US Defence Department in its assessment said that Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's trip to New Delhi in 2010 attempted to smooth over differences following a year of uneasy relations, but he did not address serious irritants.

"A high degree of mistrust continues to strain the bilateral relationship," it said.