China to build four frigates for Pakistan
50 minutes ago
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's navy signed contracts on Monday to have four frigates built in China, the defence ministry said on the eve of a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
The F-22P frigates would be equipped with helicopters for anti-submarine warfare and with surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, a ministry statement said.
It did not say how much the contracts were worth or when the frigates would be ready, but it described the deal as a breakthrough in defence cooperation between Pakistan and China.
The ships would enhance the navy's operational capabilities and boost Pakistan's maritime defence, the ministry said. The announcement came on the eve of Wen's three-day visit.
China is a long-time ally of Pakistan and its main supplier of military equipment. In recent years, China has also improved relations with India, Pakistan's neighbour and main rival, which Wen will also visit during his tour of South Asia.
"The navy has been looking for frigates for a long time, this is one of its major deficiencies," said former Pakistani general and defence commentator Talat Masood.
"There's been a great improvement in their manufacturing ability in recent years," he said of China's shipbuilders