The Turkish defence contractor Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik ve Ticaret A.Ş. (STM) has been working to generate in-roads in the global naval market. While STM has the Middle East and South America in its sights, Pakistan is among STM’s success stories thanks to a sale of a 15,600-ton Navy Fleet Tanker in 2013 and a 2016 contract to upgrade the Pakistan Navy’s three DCNS Agosta 90B submarines.
Currently, STM is leading an effort to sell four MILGEM corvettes to the Pakistan Navy. At the 2016 International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS), which occurred in Karachi in November, the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) stated that it is offering to pilot a financing program to help back the potential purchase. STM stated that it hoped to ink the program in 2017.
Specific details of the Pakistan Navy corvette proposal are not yet known, but since its introduction, the originating MILGEM Ada corvette design has spurned several variants. Among them the I-Class frigate, a 3,000-ton design with 16 vertical launch system (VLS) cells. The first ship of the class, the Istanbul, entered production in January of this year. However, STM and its design partner Delta Marine are offering another MILGEM-based design, especially for the export market – the LF-2400 Light Frigate.
The LF-2400 is a mono-hull warship designed to undertake a wide range of roles including offshore patrol, anti-ship warfare (AShW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-air warfare (AAW). Like the I-Class, the LF-2400’s hull is longer than the MILGEM Ada (108 m vs. 99.5 m), but the LF-2400’s displacement is only marginally heavier than that of the Ada (2,350 tons vs. 2,300 tons).
Considering how close the LF-2400 is to the Ada in terms of its specifications, especially displacement, the ‘frigate’ and ‘corvette’ terminology is irrelevant in this case. However, where the Ada was optimized for ASW (for the Turkish Navy), the LF-2400’s mission profile is broader.
The combined diesel and diesel (CODAD)-powered vessel can also serve as a command and control ship. With a ferry range of 5,000 nautical miles at 15 knots and endurance of 21 days, STM positions the LF-2400 as a complete solution for countries seeking to guard their sea-lines-of-communications (SLOC) and exclusive economic zones (EEZ) from conventional and asymmetrical threats. The LF-2400 has a landing and take-off deck for medium-weight utility and ASW helicopters.
Designed for export, STM has left the customer to decide upon the subsystem and weapons configuration of the LF-2400. The LF-2400 can be armed with a 76 mm forward main gun, a dual-quad anti-ship missile (AShM) launcher (i.e. eight missiles), two stabilized gun platforms, and two triple ASW torpedo launchers.
It is identical to the MILGEM Ada in most respects, but STM and Delta Marine made space rear of the exhaust-stack for 12 (or 16) VLS cells. These can be used to deploy surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and, potentially, surface-to-surface missiles. There is also a spot for the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) point-defence missile system (PDMS), which can provide close-proximity defence against incoming AShM.
Besides armaments, the LF-2400 can be configured in a standard form with a 3D phased-array radar (e.g. Thales Smart-S Mk2), hull-mounted sonar, command, control and communications system, electro-optical system, electronic support measures (ESM) system and countermeasures.
The LF-2400 mirrors the general specifications and capabilities of the DCNS Gowind 2500 corvette, which is a 2,600-ton design with a 76-mm main gun, two 20-mm cannons, dual-quad AShM launchers, two triple lightweight ASW torpedo launchers, and 16-cell VLS. Egypt bought its Gowind 2500s for €250 million per ship, which offer a general understanding of the LF-2400’s price.
Note: The LF-2400’s specifications can be found on Delta Marine’s design portfolio, which is available through the following URL.
Pakistan should go for the one with VLS
This one has a VLS read it again carefully
Nice little ship but we may need a bigger VLS array than just 16. What we also don’t know is what Western weapons will be allowed considering that we are not on best term with Western vendors. It is however important to go for proven quality as we have enemies bigger than us armed with dangerous weapons. I hope PN make a decision soon.
Western sensors shouldn’t be a problem considering the PN is buying them for the Agosta 90B.
Regarding weapons: At this stage the PN has basically standardized on the C-802 AShM, but it is piloting a larger and longer-range AShM in the Zarb. In all likelihood, one of the two (or both) would make it to a future PN corvette/light frigate. The Turks also have their own AShM – Atmaca.
In terms of AAW, there might be more flexibility on that front since these aren’t offensive weapons per se, and the PAF is an MBDA customer (Spada 2000). There is also the Denel Umkhonto EIR. But seeing where the VLS is positioned, there should even be enough room for the LY-80N, should it come down to that.
For ASW the PN could just pick up a Turkish solution. They don’t yet have a lightweight ASW torpedo, but they have the Aselsan TORK hard-kill torpedo countermeasure , which should provide a solid grounding for a lightweight torpedo.
Thanks Bilal, A few options are available then. Turks should be able to integrate weapons of our choice. Quality and proven weapons will be nice. RIM-116 and CIWS are a must considering the Brahmos threat. That also means we need mid-size frigates 3000+ tons to take all this load.
For the RIM-116, there is the Chinese FL-3000N.
PN should have to get these light frigates but if they are armed with LY80-N as Mr Bilal has given option then honestly they shall be more capable than any of the ship so far inducted in PN . As LY 80- new version has 70+ KM range and is optimized to counter Brahmos and other Indian threats. China is deploying improved version near Indian border to counter IA missile threats.
Even PN should try to arm existing fleet with these or other availble SAMs mentioned below to be able to counter Air threats from enemy.
We should not forget that even if agreement is signed these corvettes will/shall take full 8-10 Years for full supply so we should get any capable second hand platforms to replace F21 class frigates.
That 8-10 year gap is key. We might see a quad-pack’able Chinese MR-SAM (e.g. DK-10) by then.
Is it possible to upgrade the existing F22 Ps with LY80 ? If yes then I believe it is the best way of getting this capability in the shortest time possible. It is a 2500 ton design right?
And is it that ship builders make it possible for smaller ships to include a VLS along with ASW and AshW capabilities by perhaps removing some older traditional requirements as a compromise?
They can integrate at least an eight-cell VLS to the area in front of the bridge. That should provide eight LY-80, but the PN would get more mileage if it can secure a quad-pack design, such as the MBDA CAMM (25+ km), which will mean 32 missiles (vs. 8). The NORINCO DK-10 would be a great fit too, if and when available we should see momentum to upgrading the F-22P.
Good to know its possible, when you say infront of the bridge does that mean installing the vls inplace of the FM 90?
Is there a cost or some other benefit provided by the Turks if Pak Navy procures their design instead of a Chinese design? As you’ve informed us about some great Chinese options also.
It is obivious that both will be flexible in terms of the subsystems and weponry that Pak Navy may desire so why not stick with the chinese as there is a lot of chance that most subsystems and wepoans would be of Chinese origin.
The Turks are mainly a factor right now because they’re extending credit to help back a deal. When such mechanisms are available, it seems as though the PN prefers Western platforms.
I hope this time around Pak Navy gets an asset with decent Anti Air capabilities, therefore not end up with the MILGEM Ada ships, the LF-2400 looks like the right choice. Hope for the best.
Considering the INS kolkata class destroyers , which will be deployed to the front lines, in times of war, each has 16 Brahmos missiles.
Now to intercept and take out these missiles is another debate. However, opinions vary according to the type of missile systems deployed and accordingly 2-4 missiles are required to Intercept Brahmos (Yet to be proven)
Even if the minimum 2 missiles are taken into consideration, then you need atleast 32 missiles for Air Defence in order to counter a saturation attack by a single INS Kolkata class destroyer.
Quad packable, 32 CAMM/LY 80/DK 10 (or other similar systems) missiles/SHIP ARE A MUST.
Although it’s just a frigate/corvette, however, YOU DON’T GET TO BUY A SHIP EVERYDAY.
The Pakistani LF-2400 frigates expected to equip with best Chinese made anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles.
Aster 30/15 combo would be nice but expensive! SM2/ESSM is probably out of the question, unless it comes via the Turks. I take the point that a Chinese solution is always available, but have a nagging worry over reliability and quality, as none are battle proven. Just hope we buy a relatively larger stealth frigate with 32 cell VLS minimum that will give us much needed flexibility.
The most plausible Western option for the Pakistan Navy is the MBDA CAMM (Sea Ceptor). Its 25+ km range places it in the short-to-medium range category, but it can be quad-packed into a Sylver VLS. So a 16-cell system aboard the LF-2400 or even an 8-cell system on the F-22P would enable 64 and 32 missiles, respectively. Before the main issue would have been Britain’s willingness to approve a sale, but seeing the SharpEye, the PN’s chances aren’t the worst.
Bar the MBDA CAMM, the solution would be Chinese or South African. Denel Dynamics is nearing with the Umkhonto EIR (30-35 km), and since that system can be bought in ZAR (i.e. cheaper than USD/EUR), it should be affordable. It can’t be quad-packed, so we’re looking at 16 and 8 missiles on the LF-2400 and F-22P, respectively. Ditto for the Chinese LY-80N (40 km), should they take that route.