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Pakistan eyeing four MILGEM corvettes
October 17, 2017
An Ada-class corvette. Photo credit: Delta Marine Solutions

Pakistan eyeing four MILGEM corvettes

Turkey’s new defence minister, Fikri Işık , visited Pakistan on Friday and informed the media that a number big-ticket programs are underway between the two countries. In fact, Turkey and Pakistan committed to enhancing defence and defence industry ties at the beginning of May.

The programs on the table include the Pakistan Army’s interest in the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) T-129 ATAK attack helicopter, the sale of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Super Mushshak trainers to Turkey, and two Pakistan Navy programs – the upgrading of the Navy’s three Agosta 90B submarines and the possible purchase of four Ada-class (MILGEM) corvettes.

Comment and Analysis

The acquisition of four modern corvettes has been in the making for almost 10 years. While smaller than modern frigates, corvettes can serve as valuable maritime security assets. Not only can they fully support one’s offshore patrol and policing needs, but in time of war they can potentially double as anti-submarine warfare (ASW) assets.

The MILGEM fits that mission profile; it is a low-observability and low-detectability design equipped with modern on-board sensors, electronics, and weapons. In fact, the Pakistan Navy was in talks with Turkey for four MILGEM corvettes in the late 2000s, but a severe fiscal crunch at the time scuttled the program.

This time, it appears that Turkey is planning to extend a loan or line-of-credit of $400 million U.S. (source is in Turkish) to enable Pakistan to purchase the ships. According to Defence Minister Fikri Isik, Pakistan formally requested four corvettes, and the loan to fund them has already been submitted to the relevant government bodies in Turkey. If approved, Pakistan will get to pay for the ships in installments.

The timing of the MILGEM/Ada-class corvette news is interesting. It was only last week that a Pakistan Navy delegation, led by the Chief of Naval Staff no less, visited South Africa, and among the matters raised, the delegation requested information on the Denel Dynamics Umkhonto surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. Whether the two are related is not known, but it would make for an interesting – if not likely – configuration. Minus the prospect of requesting the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) (which is not an outlandish idea), the Umkhonto would make for a good combination with the MILGEM.

There are other questions regarding the configuration as well; would Pakistan retain the Thales SMART-S Mk2 radar? Would Pakistan carry forth the Harpoon Block-II anti-ship missile (AShM)? The challenge that Pakistan faces is not only one of access and cost, but flexibility as well. In a sense, the MILGEM is more of an opportunity than it is a challenge, assuming Pakistan capitalizes upon the chance to equip the platform with its choice of subsystems.

This is not to say that aspects of the Turkish Navy MILGEM will not make it to the version for Pakistan. For example, Turkey could theoretically seek permission from Thales to re-export the SMART-S Mk2, which is produced under license by Aselsan. Remember, Thales is a multi-national entity, the SMART-S Mk2 falls under Thales Nederland, so acquiring its permission is plausible. Alternatively, Pakistan could tap into its existing relationships with Leonardo-Finmeccanica or Saab for the KRONOS or Giraffe, respectively.

In terms of the AShW and ASW suite, it would not be surprising to see Pakistan acquire the suite from the U.S. The Pakistan Navy is already a customer of the Harpoon Block-II and Mk-46 torpedo, but if that route is closed, Pakistan could speak to MBDA’s Italian branch for the OTOMAT Mk2 AShM and MU-90 ASW torpedo. Alternatively – and perhaps more likely – Pakistan could equip its corvettes with the C-802 AShM and CY-series ASW torpedo (not clear which specific version the Navy uses).

Some may be wondering if Pakistan is in talks for the enlarged TF-100 variant of the MILGEM. This is very unlikely to happen. That platform still seems to be under development, and the wording of the Turkish defence minister was quite specific – Ada class corvettes. Others may also speculate that four would be the initial number. This is not known to anyone, but if it comes to be true, it would be a welcome move.

The MILGEM is a promising design, one with evidently room for development (as demonstrated by the TF-100 light frigate program). If the Pakistan Navy is going to procure it, it would be wise to do what it can to work with the design and build upon it. But this is speculation territory, at least at this time.

  • Abdul Rashid

    Sounds like the MILGEM has the potential to be PN’s JF-17 – modifiable, adaptable, upgradeable.

  • nob hamid gul

    Great

  • nob hamid gul

    Will it be possible to upgrade the existing platform to the more advance version of tf-100??

  • hindukush

    need 20 submarines and 200 Reaper type drones dont need an aircraft carrier right now we will let our neighbor play with them

    • Salman Khan

      The national plan is fixed at 12 subs.

  • jigsaww

    Had the opportunity of visiting HMS Helsingborg and HMS Visby in Stockholm today.

    • Abdul Rashid

      Wow, thanks for sharing the photo. Stockholm? Snakker du svensk?

      • jigsaww

        Haha..just visiting.

        • Abdul Rashid

          Disappointed! How am I to get my fix of snus now? Damn!

          • jigsaww

            i know snus. It’s swedish NASVAAR and i tried it only to spit it out by the time i reached ground floor from 4th floor.. lol..

            You don’t want it!

          • Abdul Rashid

            I don’t want it?! I been using it solidly for a good few years now. Only problem is I have to wait to get a trip to Norway to grab it from tax-free. Not available in UK. Yes, it is naswar but of premium quality. Are we drifting of topic here? Ok, where were we… yes, corvettes. Are any of the subsystems on the Visby class also found on the Turkish Milgem?

          • Hindukush

            I have been this tobacco made in India called oddly enough Mirage,not a day goes by without me using it and it’s readily available in states

          • Abdul Rashid

            Ah, good. So we have at least two naswariye regulars on Quwa. You and me. Bilal will be so proud when he reads this, I’m sure,

          • jigsaww

            Lol. you too deserve be a mod.

          • jigsaww

            Hmmm…are any subsystem on visby available on Ada class…I don’t think so…but both have pretty decent capabilities in their sizes.

          • The Truth

            Yonca-Onuk a Turkish company provided consultancy to Kockums AB when it was developing the Visby class. Kockums AB has used Yonca-Onuk’s Resin technology for the hull.

          • Abdul Rashid

            That is interesting to know. Thanks and nice to see you on Quwa. Hope to hear more from you going forward!

          • jigsaww

            No one doubts the advancements turkey has made in ship building and other defence areas in recent years. There’s a solid organisation driven R&D infrastructure in place now. The analysis if any we do here is based on what (capabilities and technology) we have in hand, not what is possible or might be possible.

          • MT

            Dude don’t make fool out of yourself
            A country which cannot make 3-4 decade old warship grade steel is leasing resin technology to swedes which are pioneer in stealth & material science technology. Swedes submarine r one among quietest while turkey don’t have any capabilities to make a basic submarine

            Probably swedes might have outsourced some work to turkey. By the way yonxa onuk makes light OPV ships & have very little r&d investment

          • The Truth
          • MT

            I saw their sites
            they have got technology transfer from sweden & they are manufacturing stuffs with foreign ip

          • The Truth

            Your source please proving that they got their technology from Sweden.

            I know for a fact that Kordsa has obtained its technology from Turkey’s Poliya (Poliya has been manufacturing Advanced composites and resin since 1983). And Poliya in turn obtained its technology from TUBITAK-MARMARA RESEARCH CENTER- MATERIALS INSTITUTE. http://me.mam.tubitak.gov.tr/en/laboratories/composite-laboratory

            https://www.poliya.com/en/products/polipol_polyester/

            Turkish resin technology is also used in the F-35 centre fuselages produced by TAI for low-rate initial production lots 9 and 10.

            http://www.materialstoday.com/composite-applications/features/the-composites-industry-in-turkey/

    • bla bla

      What are those MIlGEM corvettes ?

      • jigsaww

        Nah…Visby class stealth corvettes docked for national day.

    • U

      From the look of them they look to be of a more stealthy design compared to the MILGEM, are they? I am no expert but I think the more a boat is covered in those slopes the further reduced is it’s radar cross section. Then why doesn’t the MILGEM has more of those flat surfaces?

      • jigsaww

        Hi, yes. partially true. But Visby class is an altogether a different beast. Part of this is because it is not really made from traditional steel, but composites and other non metallic materials. Now that goes onto not only reduce the weight of the ship overall, but also increases its payload capacity as well as reduce is infrared/magnetic signature and radar cross section area while giving better strength and corrosion resistance. This is truly the most advanced warship available today based on its hull and structure construction but comes at a high price tag, more than ada class which is a much larger ship. Now of course visby is still a corvette and is more aimed at littoral ops, but of course can be converted into frigate and destroyer designs since basic ingredients are in place. Fortunately the HMS sundsvall of goteborg class was also there but its a treat to watch this boat. And looking at this, i can only imagine why zumwalt class destroyer coming even at 4 billion USD will NOT be a game changer for US…

        I would call ada class more of forvettes, which is why pakistan might be more interested in buying them since they’d fit nicely between littoral and war ship roles, coming at 2400 tons, compared to 700 tons for visby class (but composites shed around 500 tons in favour of payload). Pakistan F22p frigates go in between 2500 to 3500 tons…depending…

        ada class still uses traditional techniques in ship building and you can only do so much of a compromise between cost and tech…i think they’re OK for Pakistan, quite good. Converting it into an all aspect stealth would easily add 50 to 100 million USD more on it in its size and class. Hence … a few compromises and a pretty decent ship you have.

        • U

          Thanks for the detailed reply,

          Now if I have understood it right, you are saying the Ada class corvettes are good ships for their cost, they are modern and somewhat on the stealthy side but not As stealthy as the Visby class because it is a more modern design and made of more complex materials. You even say the Ada class ships are larger, so what advantage can this (size) have over Visby?

          Secondly if I put this in Airfoce terms, which I have a better understanding of, The Visbys are like the F22 in terms of “stealth” and the Ada is probably a F35 or is it a F16?

          Thirdly if Pakistan had the cash, will it be better off with a Visby? or perhaps an Ada sized Visby instead of Ada corvettes.

          • The Visby is smaller and faster, but it is at heart still a littoral defence ship, albeit a very lethal one. The MILGEM has more firepower, but it can also be used for long-haul patrol missions, especially along Pakistan’s SLOC.

            In effect, they’re for different roles.

            Pakistan could also opt for a Visby-like solution, though due to cost, it won’t get something as stealthy. It could pair up with Turkey’s Yonca-Onuk and get them to develop a 500-ton corvette that is heavily armed relative to the size, but with an emphasis on speed (as opposed to range, not necessary since it’d be near the coasts).

          • jigsaww

            Bilal summed it up precisely.

            Depends on what kind of cash we are talking about. If Pakistan had the cash, it rather would or should go for larger ships (destroyers) with LRSAM capability. Like i said, Ada sized boats are more of forvettes with equal capability in surface and submarine warfare, so with or without them, Pakistan would still need fast attack crafts and patrol boats of high agility. Ada is not that. PN is going to for Houbei class as well i suppose.

          • Abdul Rashid

            I hope we get an article taking a closer look at the Houbie class. Didn’t realise that was on PN’s wish-list too.

          • U

            Hmm, now I understand all of these different boats are for different roles, I just hope now that Pakistan Has finnaly started to upgrade its Navy it opts for the latest on offer for a specific role instead of going for something that might be outdated in a couple of years, as Pakistan would definitely use these ships for at least 30 to 40 years!
            If the future is corvettes like Visbys and destroyers like Zumwalt, then Pakistan should try its best to get there ASAP and I hope MILGEM is a right step in that direction.

          • jigsaww

            They don’t have much choice left to sleep over navy’s needs anymore. PN needs to transform itself in next one decade, both physically and mentally.

          • Hindukush

            The real defense budget of Pakistan is around $15 billion ……time to pony up some money for our navy

          • Azsed

            Visby class is as expensive and better in stealth.. That is it, from armament to price to sensors.. MILGEM is much better

        • The Truth

          You are comparing an apple to a banana when you compare the Visby class to the Ada class. The Ada class is an advanced Corvette/Light Frigate. It also has significant systems in place that reduce hydrodynamic, acoustic, magnetic, IR and radar signatures. A locally designed degaussing system (strategically placed coils in the hull) also minimizes the magnetic signature for protection against the magnetic mines. Although the hull is steel the superstructure is an advanced composite. Now had Pakistan wanted to opt for a Visby class like corvette it would knock on Yonca-Onuk’s door and purchase the MRTP-70. Yonca-Onuk actually provided consultancy to Kockums AB when it was developing the Visby class. The Yonca-Onuk and Visby class also use the same Resin.

          • jigsaww

            I’m not comparing anything to anything. There was a discussion in context of stealth signatures of two and need for it. Read my comments on this page carefully.

  • Mehmet Aydemir

    Pak and Turkey buy more weapon each other and devolop all platforms for both armies use…..

    • Salman Khan

      Evet. Türk arkadaşlar teşekkür ederiz!

      [Site Moderator – Google Translate: “Yeah. Thank Turkish friends!”]

      • Abdul Rashid

        Hi Salman, I added the Google Translate of your comment underneath to qualify it for posting.

        • Salman Khan

          Thanks haha. I just wanted to show gratitude to those who deserve it, and our brothers definitely deserve every thanks. Also, I know Turkish, so was just communicating with their language haha 😀

          • Abdul Rashid

            No problem! It is always nice to be able to greet and converse with people in their own language. I too used a little bit of Norwegian on one of my comments on this very thread.

  • Sami Shahid

    Pakistan should get more corvettes and fast attack crafts

  • Musayyab Ali

    does pakistan navy has destroyers in its moderanization
    plans

  • I’ve had a few requests from some readers to keep this thread open, so I’m leaving it open until further notice. Keep on discussing!

  • Sami Shahid

    Pakistan should get these corvettes as soon as possible….navy should produce more frigates and fast attack crafts

  • Sami Shahid

    and sub-marines as well…lol

  • Sami Shahid

    why not just produce more fast attack crafts at Karachi Dock Yard

  • The Truth

    You sound like a fan boy who has no understanding of factual based debate.
    (1) Turkey insisted that the combat management system to be used in the German designed U-214TN it procured would be HAVELSAN designed and produced. The Germans accepted. 80% of the U-215TN uses Turkish sub-systems. http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/todays-special-turkey-sub-rfi-02088/
    (2) Enlighten yourself about Aselsan radars:
    http://www.aselsan.com.tr/en-us/capabilities/radar-systems/air-defense-radars/mobile-search-radar
    http://www.aselsan.com.tr/en-us/capabilities/radar-systems/air-defense-radars/kalkan-air-defence-radar
    http://www.aselsan.com.tr/en-us/capabilities/radar-systems/reconnaissance-–-surveillance-radars/sar-synthetic-aperture-radar
    Enlighten yourself about Meteksan Radars: http://www.meteksan.com/algilayici-sistemler/milimetre-dalga-atis-kontrol-radari
    (4) Enlighten yourself on Turkish GaN transistor technology: http://bilnews.bilkent.edu.tr/bilkent-aselsan-partnership-establishes-turkeys-first-commercial-chip-factory/
    http://abmikronano.com.tr/haberler/

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