Pakistan Navy: Modernizing Its Feet

Modern platforms in defence are critical to national security and it keeps intact the technological expertise and encourages spin-off technologies and innovation. The induction of modern weaponry increases defence capability of a country and helps to maintain credible deterrence. The journey of development and achievements of the Pakistan Navy has been relatively quiet but continuous.

With the independence, Pakistan Navy started its journey with a very few old Royal Navy ships, and a one-room office in which the Naval Headquarters was established. Despite the lack of resources and lack of relevant production capacity at home, the Pakistan Navy chose the right direction from the beginning. The goal has always been to protect maritime borders and secure maritime routes. An overview of history reveals that from the Dwarka operation to the latest retreat of an Indian submarine and the guarantee of safe sea lanes in the worst terrorist era in the region, the Pakistan Navy has played a key role in international relief activities.

It is not an easy task to be fully prepared in the face of a larger size enemy and ever-changing threats. For the past two decades, the Indian Navy has drastically increased its spending on its obsession with Indian Ocean waters. Taking advantage of the blessings of the world powers and access to Western technology, India is constantly expanding its navy. In these circumstances, the Pakistan Navy cannot make any unnecessary comparisons. But a well-balanced and strong navy is a basic requirement for its defence needs and for fulfilling its international and national responsibilities in the Indian Ocean. Therefore, a fleet was required that guarantees the defence of the country; safe naval routes in the region; and the protection of Pakistan’s maritime resources and merchant ships.

To this end, Pakistan Navy, while keeping in view the security challenges at Indian Ocean Region (IOR), stepping up to modernize its fleet in order to maintain a reasonable force at sea. Pakistan Navy has revised its development plans and inducting new technological advanced platforms into the service. Previously, Pakistan Navy had relied on UK and US for military equipment and in fact these military platforms had provided essential tenets of training and professionalism to Pakistan Navy. However, due to Geo-political tilt and military-technological partnership with China, Pakistan Navy has worked on a comprehensive program to transform its naval platforms especially the destroyers or frigates ships.

Pakistan Navy had historically been operating with 8 to 9 major surface ships which constrain country’s regional footprints and influence. To redress this, the fleet size comprising of more than 50 ships was envisioned by the Pakistan Navy. Under this, the Navy has recently acquired new platforms including the MILGEM Class Turkish Corvettes and Chinese 054 A/P frigates. In continuation of this, a commissioning of new Chinese platform known as Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) TUGHRIL, is undoubtedly a milestone for the Navy. PNS TUGHRIL is the first ship of its kind built at HZ Shipyard, Shanghai, China. Three more ships of same class will be inducted in fleet to serve Pakistan Navy for decades as force multipliers. It is a multi-mission capable ship, fitted with potent weapons like Surface to Air (SAM) and Supersonic Surface to Surface Missiles (SSM). An over 4000 tons potent platform will provide requisite deterrence and means for averting threats in our area of operation while contributing towards protection of Sea Lines of communications (SLOCs). The induction of this platform proves that Pakistan is not oblivious to its defense needs. With the addition of these multi-faceted ships, the enemy, in spite of its numerical superiority, will find itself inferior not only in spirit but also in ability.

There is no doubt in concluding that in response to the transforming nature of the threat posted to national and maritime security, Pakistan Navy is developing multi-dimensional response framework. The able command of Pakistan Navy is really taking the force to a position where it can claim itself a “responsible farsighted navy with a vision of ensuring maritime security”. Besides acquiring MILGEM class ships from Turkey, four other Chinese 054-A frigates will join the Pakistan Navy fleet between 2021 and 2023 respectively.

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About Ali Basit 1 Article
Ali Basit is an Independent Researcher and Alumnus of Quaid e Azam University. His areas of interest are International Relations, Geo Politics, and Maritime Security.