China-made frigate to head for Pakistan on Monday

China-made frigate to head for Pakistan on MondayShanghai, Apr. 5: The first of four F-22P frigates ordered by the Pakistan Navy from China three years ago will be launched on Monday from a Shanghai shipyard.

According to a China Daily report, the deal marks the navy's first purchase of a major fighting unit from China.

In the past, it procured such military hardware from Western countries, including Britain and France.

Pakistan's Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Muhammad Afzal Tahir, who will attend the launch ceremony, said the frigates will "form a very important component" of the country's surface fleet.

"They will be deployed for the defense of our maritime interests and to meet our commitments in other aspects of maritime diplomacy," he said yesterday in Beijing, adding the shift from West to East displays the navy's confidence in Chinese industry.

As well as the four frigates, the deal will include the transfer of Chinese naval shipbuilding technology to its neighbor, as the last vessel is expected to be finished at a shipyard in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2013, under an agreement signed in April 2005.

This will be "a catalyst" for cooperation on the construction of vessels. It will enhance Pakistan's capabilities in shipbuilding and also the Karachi shipyard's capabilities in managing the construction of a large warship," Admiral Tahir said.

Beijing and Islamabad have always enjoyed sound military cooperation, and last March, the PLA navy took part in its first-ever multilateral naval exercise AMAN-07 in Karachi.

On Thursday, Admiral Tahir met with China's Defense Minister General Liang Guanglie, with whom he spoke of deepening exchanges and cooperation between the defense departments and armed forces of the two countries. (ANI)