• The ships had defective infra-red sensor systems and SR 60 radars
  • High turbocharger exhaust temperatures caused low engine speed
  • One frigate had mechanical issues with the single barrel gun

The Pakistan Navy is in a fix after four frigates it purchased from China are reportedly faulty and with defective missile systems. The frigates were delivered to Pakistan between 2009 and 2013 after the country struck a $750-million deal with China.

Three of the Zulfiquar-class 2,500t multi-mission, conventionally-powered frigates were bought from the China Shipbuilding Trading Company, while one was built at the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works on the basis of a technology transfer from the Chinese company, according to a report by Italy-based Geopolitics and International Relations Studies Center.

After the commissioning of the vessels, the Pakistani Navy found out that the vessels had faulty missile systems, which were unable to lock on to the target. This defeated one of the critical mission objectives of the frigate, which was defending a force operating at sea or in convoy.

The Pakistan Navy later found out these ships were equipped with a defective infra-red sensor system and SR 60 radars, two of the most important sensors on board used for air and surface search. The sensors are yet to be replaced.

The frigates' engines were also defective as the high turbocharger exhaust temperatures were causing low engine speed, especially in engines 3 and 4.

Besides, there were other specific deficiencies in different ships. While PNS Aslat exhibited poor radar performance, the sonar onboard PNS Zulfiqar was reportedly picking up false contacts caused by high noise levels radiated by the ship. The frigate developed a serious snag during an operational deployment in the Gulf of Aden.

PNS Zulfiqar, the first Chinese frigate to be commissioned, also had mechanical and electrical issues with the single barrel 76mm gun mounted on it. PNS Saif has been running with a problematic HP5 stabilizer gyro since its commissioning.

"The defects and poor service from Chinese manufacturers have forced the Pakistani Navy to operate these four frigates with degraded operational capabilities, compromising some of the key mission objectives with which these ships were bought at a high price," the report said, adding that operating the frigates in the turbulent waters of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean is a "nightmare" for Pakistani Navy.

The issue has irked the Vice Chief of Naval Staff, Pakistan Navy, who expressed his concern to the head of the shipping company. The Pakistan Navy has reportedly asked China to compensate for the loss of operational time.

This isn't the first time that Beijing is being accused of selling faulty military hardware to Pakistan. There were earlier reports that Pakistan discovered the MBT-3000 third-generation main battle tanks and 203-millimeter heavy artillery guns brought from China were defective.

This setback had brought Pakistan back to the U.S. camp with its military looking to reset its ties with Washington.

Chinese frigate
Chinese Jiangkai I type frigate vessel which allegedly directed fire-control rader against Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer in the East China Sea REUTERS