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New Chinese frigate delivered to Pakistan

China delivered an advanced frigate to the Pakistan Navy on Monday, China State Shipbuilding Corp, the world's largest shipbuilder, said.

The State-owned defense contractor said in a statement that the frigate is the largest and most technologically advanced combat ship China has ever exported. Its delivery will improve the attractiveness and competitiveness of Chinese naval vessels in the international market, the company said, without specifying the ship's class or name.

A delivery ceremony was held in Shanghai on Monday with participation by Moin ul Haque, Pakistan's ambassador to China, and government and military officials from both nations, it added.

The vessel is equipped with new combat management systems, cutting-edge sensors and powerful weapons, with all of them designed and made in China, the statement noted, saying it is a symbol of China's outstanding capability in the research, development and construction of frigates.

CSSC said the ship was built at its Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai. It is the first large Chinese-made combat ship delivered to Pakistan since 2013, when the last Zulfiquar-class guided missile frigate-also known as the F-22P class-was handed over to the Islamic republic.

The new frigate's delivery has become the latest accomplishment in the China-Pakistan friendship and will inject new momentum into the bilateral strategic partnership, CSSC said.

The Pakistan Navy said in a statement on Monday that the frigate-PNS Tughril-is a Type 054A/P guided missile frigate capable of enormous firepower and surveillance potential. That means the ship is based on the Type 054A of the People's Liberation Army Navy.

Commodore Rashid Mehmood Sheikh, head of the Pakistan Navy's mission overseeing the frigate's construction, was quoted in the statement as saying that PNS Tughril is capable of performing multiple tasks and will form the mainstay of the Pakistan Navy fleet while bolstering the navy's maritime defense capabilities.

The Pakistan Navy previously said four such ships had been ordered.

The Type 054A is the best frigate in service in the PLA Navy. Military sources said the ship has a fully loaded displacement of about 4,000 metric tons and has 32 vertical launching cells capable of firing air-defense, anti-ship and land-attack missiles. About 30 Type 054As are in service with the PLA Navy, observers said.

Cui Yiliang, editor-in-chief of Modern Ships magazine, said on Tuesday that the Type 054A's export version is an ideal option for developing nations' navies seeking affordable, advanced frigates.

"The Type 054A has been deployed in the PLA Navy for many years and has been tested through a lot of challenging operations," he said. "The export variant will be sturdy in tough environments and demanding tasks.

"Moreover, our shipbuilding industry now offers a diversified portfolio of weapons and radars to buyers, allowing them to select the most suitable equipment for their own ships."

zhaolei@chinadaily.com.cn