Pakistan’s navy is facing problems with at least four of its Chinese-made multi-role frigates, according to a recent analysis by Geopolitica. Earlier, there were reports that Pakistan was facing problems with naval warships and even JF-17 fighters which Islamabad had acquired from China.
“At least four Chinese frigates, F-22Ps commissioned in July 2009, are giving nightmares to Pakistani naval officers and the men responsible for keeping them afloat in the turbulent waters of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean,” wrote Di Valerio Fabbri for Geopolitica.
Three of the four frigates were acquired from China Shipbuilding Trading Company, and one was built at Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works under the technology transfer agreement with the Chinese company, Fabbri noted.
Pakistan had signed a deal worth $750 million with China in 2005 for the design and construction of conventionally powered F-22P or Zulfiquar 2,500t-class multi-mission frigates delivered between September 2009 and April 2013.
These frigates were intended to reinforce the air defense of ships operating at sea, the interdiction of hostile surface combatants, commercial raids, patrols, protection of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the performance of helicopter operations.
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According to Fabbri, these mission objectives involve these frigates operating in multi-threat environments and are “with long-range, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles.”
However, much to the dismay of the Pakistan Navy, the on-board imaging device of the FM90(N) missile system was found to be faulty due to the faulty indication displayed. The system was unable to lock onto the target, which somehow rendered the missiles ineffective, thus negating one of the mission critical objectives.
These ships were equipped with a faulty infrared (IR17) sensor system and SR 60 radars, two of the essential onboard sensors used for air and surface search, according to the report.
These search and track radars had flaws during high power transmissions, significantly degrading their operational usefulness. The ships’ IR 17 sensors were faulty and had to be discarded, according to the report.
Another common problem with Chinese-built frigates was their main engine. According to Fabbri, four diesel engines power the frigates. A critical flaw in them was low engine speed due to high exhaust temperatures, especially in engines three and four of all frigates.
“A high degree of degradation was noticed in the engine crankcase and liner which undermined the coolant chemistry in the vessels. Lube oil degradation and deterioration of vibration isolators were other engine faults,” Fabbri wrote.
In addition to these common issues, Fabri also pointed out some issues specific to the individual ships of the Zulfiqar-class frigates, such as poor radar performance of PNS Aslat and defects in the single-barrel 76mm gun of PNS Zulfiqar.
Not the first time?
This is not the first time that Pakistan has faced problems with Chinese-made defense equipment.
In February, the Pakistani army reportedly encountered quality and reliability issues with VT 4 main battle tanks and 203 mm towed heavy artillery guns imported from China. Post-delivery testing and field-firing trials encountered several problems.
Besides Pakistan, other customers have faced similar problems with weapons acquired in China.
For example, the Royal Jordanian Air Force had purchased 6 CH-4B unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) produced by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), which it then decided to sell, apparently due to its dissatisfaction with the performance of these vehicles. UCAV.
Another example is the Bangladesh Air Force, which purchased 23 Nanchang PT-6 basic trainer aircraft from the China National Aero-technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC), which were reportedly faulty.
There were also other issues such as lack of after-sales service and poor maintenance by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Hongdu Aviation.
Are Chinese weapons inferior?
Experts say China is still catching up with other major arms suppliers, such as the United States and Russia, which are technologically superior. Moreover, Chinese weapons are not battle tested like American and Russian weapons used in conflicts around the world.
“Chinese military hardware generally lags behind that of these countries (the United States and Russia) in terms of engines, electronics and composite materials,” said Alexander Vuving, a professor at the Daniel K Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii, an American organization. Department of Defense Institute.
“Weapons made in China are not only technologically inferior, they also remain untested on the battlefield, unlike the weapons of the United States and many of its allies, as well as those of Russia,” he said. Vuving at the EurAsian Times.
“For these two main reasons – technology and battlefield testing – weapons made in China are still significantly inferior to those of the West and Russia,” Vuving continued.
When asked why countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh are inclined to buy Chinese military equipment despite these problems, Vuving said: “The quality of a weapon is only one part, and often a small part, in the decision to buy it by a third world. country.”
“For many Third World countries, the most important considerations when buying arms are price and politics, with corruption playing a prominent role. China can offer weapons at low prices, with deep discounts or bribes for procurement officials and middlemen.
“Buying arms from China is also a political decision to maintain a good relationship with China, to hedge their geopolitical bets, or both. This is the case for Pakistan and, to a lesser extent, Bangladesh.
“Furthermore, many countries that buy weapons do not expect to use them on the battlefield, so quality considerations are often less important than political, financial and other considerations.”