ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Navy has become the first maritime force in the region that is equipped with stealth technology after its first Fast Attack Craft (FAC) equipped with missiles was launched on Tuesday. India also launched its FAC on the same day in Kochi.
“The version Pakistan has bought has far better qualities and added features including cost efficiency and multi-role in any combat activity,” said an insider. “The inclusion of the FAC-M in Pakistan navy will enhance its capacity to fight against terrorism and extremism.”
According to the Pakistan Navy, the FAC-M, designated as PNS Azmat was launched at Tianjin (Xingang Chinese Shipyard) in an impressive ceremony where Pakistan’s Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Noman Bashir was the chief guest. The vessel will be the first of the Azmat class FAC, scheduled to be delivered to the Pakistan Navy within six months.
The missile craft construction project represents a quantum leap, not only in defence production in the maritime sector of Pakistan, but also addresses a long-standing operational requirement of the Navy. The fast attack craft is equipped with advanced weaponry and sensors, including the C802A surface-to-surface missile, and has stealth features. The FAC in question has a crew of 12 to 14 sailors, less than half that of similar craft. At a unit cost of an estimated $50 million each, a Navy with limited resources could afford both the financial and manpower commitment.
Admiral Noman Bashir, who has brought several innovations in Pakistan, addressed the ceremony marking the launching of FAC-M.
Acknowledging the efforts of Chinese engineers and technicians for the construction
of FAC-M, the chief guest felicitated the China State Shipbuilding Company (CSOC), Xingang Shipyard for their full cooperation and commitment in launching the craft as per schedule and remarked that this was yet another example of the unique and unparallel relations between the two countries.
“The Pakistan-China relationship is unique and does not draw any parallel in the world.
This relationship over the years has matured in all fields, particularly in defence,” he said, adding that the current geo-political situation demands further strengthening of ties between the two countries.
The CNS said that this project represents a quantum leap not only in the defence production in Maritime Sector of Pakistan but also addresses a longstanding operational requirement of Pakistan Navy.
“The collaboration in this project hopefully will open new vistas of cooperation which will be yet another milestone in defence cooperation between China and Pakistan,” he said, adding that the induction of the missile craft will not only supplement Pakistan’s combat potential but also afford the Pakistan Navy the opportunity to distinctly uphold its forward presence in the area of interest, contributing to a balance the power in the region.
The admiral said the environment around us warrants the Pakistan navy to be prepared to counter the forces challenging our sovereignty as well as regional peace and security.
Admiral Noman Bashir said he was confident that the construction of the second fast attack craft in Pakistan will be accomplished successfully with the full cooperation ofChina.
The Indian media has reported that India added a new warship to its fleet with the commissioning of FAC in Kochi to aid in anti-piracy operations in the Arabian Sea. It has been named after an island in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago as Kabra.
Vice Admiral Sushil underscored the importance of relatively smaller ships like fast attack craft for a blue water navy, saying the assets were an essential inventory in peacetime for low intensity conflicts and anti-piracy operations.
It is the eighth of a series built with borrowed technology. The main armament of the ship is a 30mm CRN 91 gun. In addition, the ship has been fitted with machineguns of various types and shoulder launched surface-to-air missiles. INS Kabra has a three-officer and 39-sailor crew.