Type 54 A/P

Type54A/P | Pakistan Navy’s upcoming warship

An Alpha Defense Guest article

-Surya Pratap

Pakistani Navy will be receiving 4 Type 54 A/P class frigates from China which will replace the British type 21 frigates in their Navy. These boats will be the most advanced warships of Pakistani Navy in the foreseeable future. Here is an analysis of what it brings to the table and a comparison of how does it compare to the similar displacement frigates of Indian Navy.

About Type 54 A/P

Type 54 family of frigates is a multi role “stealth” frigates developed for PLA Navy in 1990s. The frigate can perform anti-ship/surface, antisubmarine and anti-air operations. Type 54A frigates are main frigate of PLAN. Type 54 A/P is an export variant of Type 54A to Pakistan. Type 54 A/P will significantly improve the capability of Pak Navy, but the question is how effective will it be? 

Type 54 A/P vs Improved Talwar class

If Pakistani Navy decides to take on Indian Navy, it will be going up against western fleet of Indian Navy of which Talwar class, including improved talwar is part of. 4 admiral Grigorovich class frigates (improved Talwar) will be made, 2 in Russia and 2 in India. 

Characteristics

Both the ships were designed in 1990s as stealth frigates. The Type 54 A/P is a little heavier at 4,053 tonnes compared to Improved  Talwars ‘ 4,035 tonnes.

Characteristics Type-54 A/PImproved Talwar
Displacement(full)4,053 tonnes 4035 tonnes
Length 134.1 metres 124.8 metres 
Beam 16 metres 15.2 metres 
Speed27kn or 50kmph>30kn or 56kmph
Range14,862 km 8,980 km

Type-54 A/P is larger than improved Talwar class and has longer range while being slower. Improved Talwar  class features Vertical Launch System (VLS) for both, surface to air missiles and anti ship missiles. On the other hand, Type-54 A/P only features VLS for surface to air missiles. Type 54 A/P carriers anti ship land attack missile in inclined canisters, which increases the warships’ RCS and will also lack the capabilities offered by a Vertical Launch System meaning Type-54 A/P will have to rotate to target another boat, also exposing the large surface area of the side profile of the boat. 

Avionics and countermeasures

Type-54 A/P features SR2410c AESA radar as its’ main radar the same radar will be featured in Bangladesh’ C13B corvettes. It has a range of >250km for a fighter sized object compared to improved Talwar’ Fregate M2M AESA’ >300km for the same. Both warships are equipped with capable electronic warfare suite and missile decoy for their size.

Armaments

Type 54 A/P’ missile armaments are not confirmed but many sources say that it is to be equipped with 8x export variant of supersonic YJ-12 or CM-302 which tops out at mach-2-4 (mach 2 at low altitude)  The range of CM-302 for non MTCR members like Pakistan will be less than 300km (280km in some sources). Talwar 2 features 8xBrahMos whose extended range is 450-600km, which fly at Mach 3 throughout its flight. Against submarines Type-54 A/P has 2×3 medium (324mm) torpedo launchers whereas Improved Talwar has 2×2 heavy (533mm) torpedo launchers.

Both warships feature a helipad and hanger for only 1 helicopters mainly used for anti submarine warfare. Improved Talwar supports 1 ka-27, Type-54 A/P supports Chinese Harbin 1 Z-9C.  As the naval gun, Type-54 A/P has a 76mm PJ26 (150 rounds carried with upto 120 rounds fired/sec) compared to AK-100 (350 rounds carried with 60/sec) Maximum range of PJ26 is 15.7km  ,while AK-100 can shoot a target 21km away. Both feature rocket launchers for anti submarine and anti torpedo operations.

Coming to the defence of both warships, the guns can perform anti air operations against slow moving targets such as helicopters, Type-54 A/P hosts 32 cell HHQ-16 (40km range) which has a single shot kill probability of 60% for cruise missile (85% for aircraft) flying at a speed of 300m/s (<mach 0.9).It improves to >90% with a salvo of 2 missile per target. However above said kill probability is against  subsonic cruise missile, but with BrahMos which flies at mach 3 or around 980 m/s, the ship defense system may find it extremely difficult to intercept.

Improved Talwar will carry 24 cell Shtil1 (9M317ME) VLS which gives a range of 50km when vertically launched. Capable of intercepting missiles which have a speed of 830 m/s (mach 2.42) which makes it capable of intercepting CM-302 (YJ-12) which flies at speed of mach 2 at low altitudes. Success rate is not available in open source but is said to be around 60-70% for single shot and >90% for 2 missile salvo per target. Type-54 A/P has a superior (Type-1130) Close In Weapons System (CIWS) to improved Talwars’ AK-630. But if its’ Kashtan on improved Talwar , it will change the equation but any of these CIWS has a very low probability of intercepting a maneuvering supersonic missile. 

BrahMos vs CM-302 (YJ-12)

YJ-12 has a lesser range of 280km (400km for China) compared to 450-600km of BrahMos as well as lower speed i.e Mach 3 (BrahMos) vs Mach 2 (YJ-12) at low altitude. BrahMos can fly at 3-5 meter above the sea level while YJ-12 skims at 10-15 meters. Accuracy of 1 meter CEP of BrahMos is much better compared to 5-7 meter of YJ-12. All the above mentioned features makes interception of BrahMos harder than YJ-12. Considering range, speed, low sea skimming capabilities, accuracy, interception probability, it could be seen that BrahMos is in a league of its own.

A hypothetical One v/s One scenario

It is unlikely that both will meet 1 v/s 1 scenario, since Indian Navy’s Improved talwar will be part of larger fleet which will include more capable ships like Kolkata class, Vishakhapatnam class, Nilgiri class, etc, while Pakistani fleet will feature ada class corvettes, type 53H3 frigates. However for comparison sake, Improved Talwar features a better radar, better Anti-ship missiles, heavier torpedoes, while Type 54 A/P though carry 8 more SAM, LY-80N performance viz-a-viz Shtil-1 is said to be inferior. In CIWS department Type 54AP is better. Both ships have decent anti-sub capabilities with hull based as well as towed sonars, ASW rockets, torpedoes and dedicated ASW helicopters. In terms of endurance and cruising performance. Talwar which features a Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) engine configuration offers higher speed at cost of range, while Type 54AP Combined Diesel and Diesel (CODAD) configuration sacrifices speed in return of higher range.

Verdict

Type-54 A/P is a very decent replacement for the aging British frigates (which PN calls destroyers). It infact it will be the most advanced warship of PN. However these vessels are still comparable only to Indian Navy lighter weight frigates i.e. Talwar class or even under development corvette i.e. NGMV in surface role and Kamorta class corvettes in Sub-surface role.

However Comparing it to Nilgiri Class frigates or even Shivalik class Frigates, which totally outperform them, will be grossly unfair for Type-54 A/P.

-ALPHA DEFENSE

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One thought on “Type54A/P | Pakistan Navy’s upcoming warship”
  1. You missed an important aspect of this analysis-
    Will it be enough to protect Karachi this time? Because Indian Navy will be going for both Gwadar and Karachi this time. Hope it can provide some resistance.

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