Musharraf welcomes launch of 1st Chinese F-22P frigate for Pak Navy

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Islamabad, Apr 8 (UNI) Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf today welcomed the launch of the first F-22P frigate manufactured by China for Pakistan navy.

Named ''PNS Zulfiqar'', the frigate was launched in Shanghai yesterday.

Under an agreement reached between the two countries, Pakistan will have four such frigates with the last one entering the service in 2013. Pakistan and Chinese experts will manufacture the second and third frigates while the fourth one will be built in Pakistan.

The frigates will be equipped with helicopters specially designed for anti-submarine warfare, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles along with numerous associated defence systems.

The defence cooperation between Pakistan and China dates back to the early 1960s. As the cooperation grew, China helped Pakistan develop its defence infrastructure and extended generous financial support and expertise to build huge defence complexes including a tank manufacturing factory and military aircraft rebuilding and overhauling complex near Islamabad.

''The development of the frigate project was another landmark achievement testifying to close Pakistan-China friendship and multi-faceted cooperation,'' Mr Musharraf said in a message.

''This will greatly enhance Pakistan Navy's capability to safeguard our territorial waters and help its modernisation,'' he added.

The sea launching was done at a special ceremony in Hudong Shipyard, Shanghai, which was attended by the Pakistani Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Afzal Tahir, Ambassador of Pakistan to China-- Salman Bashir-- and high ranking dignitaries from the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information and PLA Navy.

The F-22 project will be completed in the next five years with the commissioning of the last frigate at Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works.

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