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Azmat Class Fast Attack Craft For The Pakistan Navy

 The Pakistan Navy is slated to receive its first Azmat Class Fast Attack
Craft (FAC) from China in within 6 months. These boats are not to be
confused with the older Azmat class which are less than half the tonnage
and are significantly less capable ships. The Azmat class will be the
first stealth FACs in the Subcontinent. They will be superior in every
way to the Indian Navy counterparts. To date however, only two such
ships have been ordered. A follow on order for two more are also likely.

Of the two boats ordered, one is being built in China and another is
being built in Pakistan. These boats are well-armed although somewhat
lacking in air defense, a typical problem with smaller boats of this
type. The ships are designed to have both a defensive and offensive
capability. Herein lies the advantage of these boats – with many Indian
ports within 200 miles of Pakistan, the Azmat Class’s 500 nautical mile
range and 110 mile C-802 range makes these boats an effective threat
along with her traditional defensive coastal role. The ship is further
equiped with a modern networked C4I system that will be a force
multiplier in terms of network-centric warfare, utilizing the sensors of
other ships, aircraft and PN assets.

The PLAN Type 022 Houbei Class

A question is often asked why the PN did not by the Type 022 Houbei
Class FACs. While these boats are faster and stealthy, they have
significantly less range and are also more dependent on external
guidance and sensors. Their hull design is also not as suited for poor
weather conditions at sea. These imply that they would be less effective
for the Pakistan Navy. The Type 022 are also significantly smaller
boats. In comparison, the 022 pursues closely the Soviet doctrine of
missile boats which also require large numbers. In comparison, the Azmat
Class is closer to an OPV (Offshore Petrol Vehicle) suitable for a wide
variety of roles as an OPV and a missile boat. In fact, this author
speculates that they may later even utilize ship-launched UAVs.

One notable characteristic of the Azmat Class is that it uses nearly
half the crew for a similar sized / category ship. This shows how
advanced automation has reached Chinese naval development and will
significantly lower the cost of operating these boats. They also would
lower the casualty count in case of war.

The Azmat Class is considered slower than some contemporary missile
boats, although of similar speed to Corvettes and OPVs. The length of
the ship in relation to the bow wave creates an optimal speed when the
latter is nearly the same length as the former. At this speed the drag
is lower, giving the ship greater endurance. 30 knots is thus a
compromise and a an ideal “sweet spot” for a ship that is 60 meters in
length. Further, this represents only open source information and it may
be the ship can run faster when needed at wartime. 

At $50 million, the Azmat Class is a moderately priced ship that is
well-balanced in her traits and able to play multiple roles, a quality
rare for her class. The ship provides both stealth and automation that
breaks new standards. Capable of both defensive and offensive
operations, the Azmat class will play a small but important role in the
Pakistan Navy.