The lead ship of the class, the PNS Zulfiquar 251, entered service in September 2009.
Pakistan has a special military relationship with China. The two countries have worked together on a number of low- and high-level projects during the alliance. The Pakistani Navy’s four Zulfiquar guided missile frigates are an example. The class is based on an updated model of the Chinese design, the Type 053H3. The frigates perform missions including air defense, enemy interdiction, extraction and patrolling the economic exclusive zone.
The lead ship of the class, the PNS Zulfiquar 251, entered service in September 2009. She basically inherited the design of the Chinese Type 053H3 class from the 1990s. The hull contains China’s type 054 frigate’s radar cross-section reduction, which helps prevent detection by radars mounted on other ships, aircraft and anti-ship missiles.
Four Pakistani frigates were commissioned from 2009 to 2013. The addition of the four ships immediately provided the Pakistan Navy with its most powerful surface combatants to date. As built, the ships carry a displacement of 2,755 tons under standard load and 3,465 tons under full load. The frigates can operate in multi-threat environments and are equipped with long-range surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, which are capable of attacking multiple targets simultaneously.
Propulsion is a COmbined Diesel-And-Diesel arrangement involving 4 x Pielstick 16 marine diesels coupled with 4 x MTU diesel generators for maximum output while retaining efficiency. The arrangement can bring all engines to bear for dash actions and restrict power for general cruising. The maximum speed can be up to 29 knots, the range is 4,000 nmi.
The vessels are also equipped with under-sea sensors that can detect nuclear and conventional submarines at long range. They have long-range sensors, navigational radars and trackers, sonars, electronic warfare systems, counter measures systems and advanced command and control systems.
In terms of armament, the Pakistani Navy’s Zulfiquar class is armed with a single 76.2mm main gun, eight C-802 sub-sonic Saccade anti-ship missiles, an eight-round FM-90 surface-to-air missile and two type 730B 30mm close-in weapon system units. They also feature RDC-32 anti-submarine rockets, two triple ET-52C torpedo tubes, state-of-the-art homing weapon systems and depth charges.
Each frigate can carry Z9EC anti-submarine helicopters. The contract was expanded with China as the Pakistan Navy ordered to equip the Zulfiquar class with six Z-9EC helicopters with anti-submarine capability and additional ammunition according to their specifications, concluding the final cost at $750 million USD. The helicopters are fitted with surface-search radar, Doppler navigation systems and radar warning receivers. They also features low-frequency dipping sonar and torpedoes.
PNS Zulfiquar, has been deployed on operations in the War on Terror. She was the target of al-Qaeda militants on September 6th, 2014. A small force of men attempt to take the ship in a brazen mission to commandeer her for use against the American Navy operating in the Arabian Sea. They were ultimately neutralized by Pakistani elements.