China: November 9, 1999


China is offering a new export frigate, known as the F16U, for sale to Pakistan, Thailand, and other interested buyers. The 1,600-ton frigate is, curiously, fitted with Western weapons and sensors. The ship mounts a 32-cell vertical launch missile magazine, space for eight anti-ship missiles (Harpoon is the weapon of choice, but the ships can also mount Exocet or Russian SS-N-25s), a 76mm OTOBREDA main cannon, two twin-barreled Chinese 37mm guns, a Dutch Goalkeeper 30mm anti-missile cannon, and space for two decoy launchers. The sensors are European, including the French Thomson CSF Jupiter long-range radar, Dutch Signaal Sting fire control and Sirius infrared search and track system, and either a French Thomson Arabel or an Italian Alenia Empar 3D missile designation radar. There is a hangar for one helicopter, with the size noted as fitting a Chinese Z9 or a French Dauphin. The ship is 103m long (96m on the waterline), 10.8m wide, and will draw 3.2m of water. Maximum speed is 30 knots. Pakistan is in serious need of surface warships, since India has just commissioned or is building a dozen new warships of four classes, and all of them mount 16 anti-ship missiles. --Stephen V Cole


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