Surface Forces: Build Your Own FAC-Ms

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April 23, 2022: At the end of March, the Pakistan Navy received its third locally built Azmat-Class FAC-M (fast attack craft-missile). These 560-ton ships are 63 meters (207 feet) long with a max speed of 56 kilometers an hour and max range of 1,900 kilometers and endurance of 3-4 days. The crew of 15 operates search and navigation radars as well as a 25mm multi-barrel autocannon CIWS (Close In Weapons System) for defense against missiles and small craft. Main weapons are eight C-802 anti-ship missiles with a range of 120 kilometers and top speed of 1,100 kilometers an hour. There are also six Harbah cruise missiles with a range of 700 kilometers at a speed of 980 kilometers an hour. These can be used against land targets. All the missiles use GPS and inertial guidance to reach a specified target (for the cruise missile) and radar homing for the C-802 to hit a ship after reaching the area where there are supposed to be targets.

The first Azmat was built in China, to Pakistani specifications, based on the older Chinese Type 037H missile boat. This was a 520-ton missile boat carrying C-801 anti-ship missiles. Only nine were built for the Chinese navy. But when Pakistan approached China for FAC-M ships, Pakistan selected a modified version of the Type-037H. The first was built in China and the other three in Pakistan under a technology transfer agreement. Pakistan received the first Azmat in 2012 and the other three in 2014, 2017 and 2022. Pakistan is satisfied with the performance of the Azmats and considering building more of them. The first four cost about $50 million each. In 2012 Bangladesh bought two Azmats from China, with a few modifications.

Fast Attack Craft are a ship type that has been around since the late 19th century when they were armed with the relatively new torpedo. These FACs were called torpedo boats and used for coastal patrol and defense. Torpedo boats were quite common during the World Wars and into the 1960s. A FAC using missiles instead of torpedoes was developed by Russia in the late 1950s. Russia was the largest user of torpedo-armed FACs after World War II. The missile armed FAC, or FAC-M, proved its worth when two Russia Komar class FAC-M boats sold to Egypt launched four Russian anti-ship missiles at an Israeli destroyer and sank the ship after three of the missiles hit it. That prompted Israel and many Western navies to equip their FACs and corvettes with new, lightweight anti-ship missiles and develop defenses (like the Phalanx CIWS) against them. Electronic defenses as well as flares were also developed to defeat missile attacks.

Russia and China still have a lot of FAC-M boats as does North Korea and Iran.

 


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