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IDEF 2017: Pakistan moves closer to finalizing MILGEM corvette purchase
July 20, 2019
Photo credit: Turkish Ministry of Defence

IDEF 2017: Pakistan moves closer to finalizing MILGEM corvette purchase

Pakistan’s Minister of Defence Production (MoDP) Rana Tanveer Hussain, Turkey’s Minister of Defence Fikri Işık and Turkish defence contractor Savunma Teknolojileri Muhendislik Ve Ticaret A.S (STM) have signed a letter-of-intent for the sale of four MILGEM Ada corvettes to the Pakistan Navy.

As per Defence Turkey, the contract will be finalized on June 30, 2017.

The Deniz Haber reported that the MoDP visited Tuzla Shipyard in Istanbul and received a presentation on the MILGEM Ada corvette platform. In an interview with Turkish state-owned news agency Anadolu Agency that same day, Mr. Hussain said that current plans project that some of the corvettes will be built in Turkey, with the remainder in Pakistan.

This is also STM’s third major naval contract to Pakistan, following the Pakistan Navy Fleet Tanker (PNFT) and Agosta 90B submarine upgrade program. Depending on the configuration of the Pakistan Navy’s new corvettes, the cumulative value of these programs could potentially exceed U.S. 1 billion.

Notes & Comments:

Turkey announced Pakistan’s interest in procuring MILGEM corvettes in June 2016.

During Pakistan’s biennial defence exhibition, IDEAS, which took place in Karachi in November 2016, the Deputy Undersecretary for Turkish Defence Industries (SSM) Mustafa Şeker confirmed that Turkey will extend a loan, reported to have been U.S. $400 million, to Pakistan. STM added that it was waiting for July, i.e. the start of Pakistan’s new fiscal year, for Islamabad to finalize the contract.

Specifics surrounding Pakistan’s desired configuration or design have not yet been disclosed. Currently, it appears that the model is directly derived from the MILGEM Ada corvette, but with specific modifications in mind for the Pakistan Navy’s requirements. Specifics regarding these modifications are have not been disclosed, though it will likely involve replacing U.S.-origin subsystems and weapons with alternative ones – these could potentially come from Turkey, Europe or China. Speaking to the Turkish state-owned news agency Anadolu Agency, STM CEO Davut Yilmaz said that the Pakistan MILGEM deal is worth $1 billion. As per Yilmaz, the standard configuration of the MILGEM Ada would have cost $300 million per ship, but since Pakistan is sourcing some equipment and work from its own industry, it will pay $250 million per ship.

The MILGEM Ada corvette design of the Turkish Navy is optimized for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations, though it is also armed with two quad anti-ship missile (AShM) launchers, a point-defence missile system (PDMS) in the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) and a 76mm main gun. It can also house a medium-weight utility and ASW-capable helicopter. Variants of the MILGEM platform, such as the LF-2400 light frigate and I-Class frigate, are equipped vertical-launch systems for anti-air warfare missiles.

The Pakistan Navy made supplanting its obsolete Type 21 frigates a priority, and the MILGEM platform – at its bare minimum – provides a functional patrol solution for Pakistan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). In wartime, the MILGEM’s ASW and anti-ship warfare capabilities will boost Pakistan’s littoral anti-access and area-denial threshold. STM has also offered its FAC-55 fast-attack missile craft system to the Pakistan Navy, specifically in response to the latter’s requirement for four to six new FACs for protecting its ports.

Statements by Turkish and Pakistani officials indicate that Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KSEW) will be involved in the MILGEM corvette program. It is not known how this will be done (besides sharing the output), but if the PNFT provides an indication, KSEW will assemble the ships (using manufactured kits from Turkey) and integrate its subsystems and weapons.