An article was published last month regarding the Pakistan Navy’s Zulfiquar class frigates. Article was mainly focused on operational status of the frigates, according to which the frigates were facing technical issues which hampered the three-dimensional capabilities of the ships.
Pakistan Navy operates four ships of Zulfiquar class. These ships were the most advanced and latest warships of PN surface fleet until PN commissioned Tughril class frigates in its fleet very recently. So, any minor deficient in operational status and capabilities of these ships would be a grave concern for Pakistan navy.
Upon cross checking of the article nothing coincided with the reality and as the specific article was shared as source of propaganda on media it was necessary to debunk the article.
- Defective FM-90N system: In the article it’s mentioned that FM-90N SAM failed to work due to defective infrared (IR-17) system. Reality is that IR-17 is only supplementary system to the OFC (optical fire control)-3 system. OFC-3 is a combined system consisting of laser range finder, Night vision camera and an Infrared system. OFC-3 is responsible for detection, tracking and guidance of FM-90N missiles towards a target in conjugation with the main radar and can alone carry out such functions in case the main radar malfunction. So, in any case a defective IR-17 system can’t cause the failure of FM-90N to carry out its operations.
- NG-16 single barrel 76mm gun: The author of that article seems to be ill informed because the correct designation is H/PJ-26 not NG-16. Later is an existent designation likely based on the NG-16A, which made its first appearance in 2021 while Zulfiquar class frigates are decade older and don’t use this main naval gun.
- The article claimed that the PNS Aslat’s (last ship in the Zulfiquar class) SR-47BG search radar was below par in performance and other ships in the class were cannibalized for parts. This statement is far from truth. All the ships are actively in service and search radars are big enough to be noticed. But so far no ship has been spotted without search radar. It also doesn’t make sense to cannibalize other ships as PN can easily acquire spare from China. Also, the leading ship PNS Zulfiquar only last year was deployed to Pakistan navy overseas deployments. During the period PNS Zulfiquar visited Her Majesty Naval base Portsmouth, UK and participated in White Star-III exercise. PNS Zulfiquar also visited Hamburg Germany. Before arriving it participated in a naval exercise with Polish navy too. Visited Jeddah port. Earlier visited & participated in exercises like Advanced maritime maneuvers, maritime interdiction operation (MIO), boarding and force protection drills.
- ASO-94 sonar: This is Atlas Elektronik made Hull mounted sonar (HMS). It’s not even a Chinese one as the whole article is trying to prove that Chinese systems aren’t reliable. So, if a system from such a refutable company isn’t reliable then not sure what’s reliable anymore. As this system is also in operation with Dutch and German frigates (Sachsen). Author hasn’t provided any source to his claims as never such malfunctions have been recorded with the system.
Engine and hull defects: The author without any evidence and proof goes on and on about the imaginary defects in the engines and hull of the ships. Any such defect can force a ship into dock for maintenance for a very long time but in reality, all the ships are doing fine and operational as evident from their recent overseas deployments and participation in various naval exercises. There is absolutely nothing in service records of the ships about such claims.