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STM Turkey in talks to design corvette for Pakistan
June 23, 2017
A Turkish Navy Ada-class corvette. Photo credit: Millisanayi.

STM Turkey in talks to design corvette for Pakistan

In its official press release, the Turkish shipbuilder Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik ve Ticaret A.Ş. (STM Turkey) noted that it was in talks with Pakistan “in order to develop [a] new corvette project, like MILGEM, in order to meet the needs of [the] Pakistan Navy.

This follows an earlier statement by STM’s General Manager Davut Yilmaz, who had hoped to finalize at least one of two major export orders by the end of 2016, one of which is the Pakistan corvette program.

Pakistan formally requested four MILGEM corvettes in June when Turkey’s defence minister, Fikri Işık, made an official visit to Pakistan.

At the time, Defence Minister Fikri Işık announced that Pakistan’s request for a $400 million U.S. loan/line-of-credit to help finance the acquisition had been referred to the relevant Turkish government bodies.

Notes, Comments & Analysis

Pakistan had attempted to acquire four corvettes from Turkey in the late 2000s, but strenuous economic conditions caused those plans to be shelved. Fortunately for the Pakistan Navy, it appears that momentum is once again returning to this requirement. The corvettes are likely being sought to replace the Pakistan Navy’s six Tariq-class (Type 21) frigates, which are on average over 40 years of age. These ships would be used to patrol and defend Pakistan’s sea lines of communication.

At this time, the specific configuration of the Pakistan Navy’s corvette design has not been disclosed. STM seems to be suggesting that a platform could be designed based on the MILGEM, but to what extent it would be similar to the Ada-class corvette is not clear. STM does have numerous surface warship design concepts it could draw upon as it prepares a solution for Pakistan.

That said, there is a noticeable gap in the Pakistan Navy’s anti-air warfare (AAW) capabilities. Its newest warships – i.e. the Zulfiqar-class (F-22P) frigates – do not possess medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, which are increasingly common on other modern surface combatants. At present, the Zulfiqar-class frigates depend on the short-range FM-90, which has a range of 15km.

It will be worth seeing if the Pakistan Navy specifies that the corvette design maintain sufficient space for a vertical launch system (VLS), which could be used by a medium-range SAM system.

Interestingly, in June the Pakistan Navy had expressed interest in the Denel Dynamics Umkhonto, though to what extent is not known. The South African SAM system currently possesses a range of 20km (and a maximum altitude reach of 8km). A 25-35km range variant – i.e. Umkhonto-EIR – is under development.

Alternative sources could potentially include Western Europe and China. In the former, the Pakistan Navy could seek the support of MBDA, which has two short-to-medium range SAM systems in its product line – the Aster-15 and Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM). MBDA Italy and MBDA U.K. would likely be the principal vendors, respectively.

In China, Pakistan could closely monitor the development of the NORINCO DK-10A, which reportedly could have a maximum range of 50km. Alternatively, it could potentially wait for the Hisar-O, which is currently being developed in Turkey by Roketsan. The Turkish route would not be unexpected. While Pakistan may have to wait an additional period of time, it would be a simpler process considering it would only require the input of the Turkish defence industry.

Finalizing the corvette contract would amount to a very eventful year for STM, which has also secured the contract to upgrade the Pakistan Navy’s Agosta 90B submarines. In fact, the company is also anticipating to finalize another big-ticket contract, potentially from an Arab Gulf country. These contracts are not only an opportunity STM, but also other Turkish defence vendors, such as Aselsan, Havelsan and Roketsan.

  • Hashim Rasheed

    This is really confusing for me regarding surface to air missiles. While Pakistan has successfully developed short and medium range ballistic missiles, and is also developing cruise missiles, why has there not been any development in the space of surface to air missiles?? Can Pakistan not produce these weapons when they are producing all sorts of other missiles?? Development of systems locally and their integration with other platforms would be much more beneficial in the long run, reducing Pakistan’s reliance and dependence on other countries.

    Also, why is the Navy replacing larger ships with smaller corvettes? Is there a paradigm shift in the operational strategy of PN where submarines might form the core attack fleet rather than surface ships??? I thought the last of the four F-22P frigates was to be developed in Pakistan!!! Are there any plans of developing the ship-building industry in the country, as Pakistan has in the past developed patrol boats, missiles boats and minesweepers.

    • MT

      1. Google : striking similarity of some Chinese and Pakistani solid fuel missiles
      DF-11, DF-15, DF-16, DF-25 (?) as well as Ghaznavi, Shaheen-1, Shaheen-2 & 3

      =>Suparco was the only organisation which had know how of missile/rockets.
      They were shunted & replaced by inferior nascent organisations such as Nescom having limited Knowledge base & skillsl sets in missile technology.

      I doubt if pak has really learnt to design and build MRBM from scratch.

      2. Its very unlikely for pak to buy turks ships which have many western technology & cost mich more than cheeni vessels

      • Omar dar

        Haha.. Pakistan has successfully designed, built and commissioned the Babar, Ra’ad and Zarb missiles, which are much more sophisticated than ballistic missiles. However, the Nirbhay missile has been known to miss targets the size of cities, so it is India which still lacks a capability to develop missiles. And before you mumble BrahMos, it is carbon copy of the P-800 Oniks missile.

        • MT

          leave it for readers to decide if pak has really made any missile on its own.

          nirbhay is 100%indigenous and it is being developed as being top notch heavy design with fuel intake.

          its far superior than pak(cheeni & african) designed cruise misssile (babur and raad)

          • Omar dar

            Haha.. Why do the readers decide when i just gave you facts? This is not a matter of opinion.. And if it can not even hit a city, how can it be superior to cheeni and african cruise missiles? this only means Nirbhay is a failure even if it is 100% indigenous.. The same goes for the LCA Tejas and Arjun MBT.. HAL and DRDO take 40 years each to make a product which the armed forces reject outright.. Then they take the Indian nation for ride saying we learnt a lot from them..

          • MT

            Nirbhay is still under development.
            India didn’t get cheeni made babur which was already tested in china.

            nor did they hv access to south Africa built raad.

            ask your friend moderator & he ll explain capabilities of pak r^d

            don’t worry about hal drdo.

            Hal alone published 800 patents in 2015 which is 3-4 times higher than total patent filed by pakistan

            just to guvt u sense of perspective;india is among 4 nation with hypersonic scramjet technology.
            india spends 1% money on r$d ^ it ranks among top 66 countries in innovations while pak ranks in bottom 10

  • SP

    Out of the six type 21 I think one has already been retired rest are due for retirement. I understood Pakistan was acquiring an additional 4 type F22P. Any designs acquired from Turkey need to be stealthy and futuristic but there is no reason why KSEW cannot produce the ships itself after acquiring the design. If KSEW can build Agosta, f22p and the tanker it can produce the corvettes.

  • bill

    By assembling Agosta’s, F22P ,FACS and Tanker KSEW has taken 1st step towards manufacturing. But true manufacturing shall be started when our own steel mill may be able to produce required steel/alloys for ship building. Further most of tech is domestically produced. So far even Turkey is away from that stage and China has reached to stage of true manufacturing with exception of engines.

    What PN should do is to get license production of Turkish corvettes along with direct dealings with EU companies to provide Radars/SAMS for them as due to space limitations one may assume that Pak still may not be able to install any Chinese SAM of medium range like HQ16 on them. We in true sense perhaps may not be able to get Camm or Aster 15 however we should go for Aspide 2000 naval variant along with Italian 3D Radar. IN case of ASHM we should go for Otomat MK-2 BLOCK4 also having land attack capabilities having range in excess of 180KM.

    Further we should upgrade our sole OHP with Chinese HQ9 and cruise Missile like CX01 along with AESA/PESA radar to create a flotilla having stealthy corvettes with Medium Range SAMs along with OHP having LRSAM at least to defend Gawadar effectively. Till we get F23 frigates from 2023 from UK if possible.

  • bill

    May be time is near when we may see two naval fleets one for Karachi and other for Gawadar.

  • Steve

    What Pakistan needs is a good economy so it can afford all these expensive weapon systems. Larger frigates and VLS systems will remain a dream. It cannot survive forever on “lines of credit”, and American handouts which are drying up anyway. The economy is plagued by mismanagement, corruption and incompetence, ruled over by 2 bloodsucking families for the last few decades. The Pakistan armed forces should also realise that they can never competed with India when these families are working against Pakistan’s interests. We are looking at the wrong solution. It’s about time the people of Pakistan elected someone other than donkeys. It’s so frustrating seeing a country with so much potential becoming basket case. The people need to be educated about what is in their own interest.

    • Mazhar

      Steve you are right on the spot and very much true. Only one person is being held for almost $4 Billion (468 Billion Pak Rupees) worth of corruption, person name Dr.Asim, a very close friend of Asif Ali Zardari. Billions of rupees are being found in basements of these corrupt politicians, and they still appear on National TV shows and cry about corruption. Pakistan cannot excel with these types of packages on her back. For how long we will be looking for credits/loans to buy hardware to protect ourselves. And the money is lying in our backyards but we cannot end corruption to grab that money.

  • EBR

    go go Pakistan

  • Sami Shahid

    hope it will become a reality….LOL

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