At Expodefensa 2017, Turkish defence contractor Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik (STM) revealed a new variant of the MILGEM warship platform – designated CF3500 – for the Colombian Navy’s Plataforma Estratégica de Superficie (PES) next-generation frigate bid.
Speaking to Mönch, STM marketing official Dr Erdem Tümdag outlined that STM will use Colombian design and engineering assets to bring the CF3500 to fruition for the Colombian Navy. If the CF3500 is selected for the PES, STM will partner with Cotecmar Shipyard in Colombia to construct eight ships.
The CF3500 appears to be a lengthened variant of the MILGEM Ada corvette. In addition to retaining the Ada’s 76-mm main naval gun, dual quad-cell (2×4) anti-ship missile (AShM) launchers, aft flight deck and hangar, dual triple (2×3) anti-submarine warfare (ASW) lightweight torpedo (LWT) launchers, the CF3500 includes a 12 or 16-cell vertical-launch system (VLS) at the bow behind the main gun.
The remaining specifications, such as displacement, length, breadth, range or endurance, are not known, though they are likely to be comparable to that of the I-Class frigate being built for the Turkish Navy. Based on STM’s naming conventions, the CF3500 is likely to have a displacement of 3,500 tons.
The I-Class frigate, also a result of the MILGEM program, has a length of 113 m and displacement of 3,000 tons. It is armed with one 76-mm main gun, two 12.7 mm guns, 2×3 ASW LWT tubes, one RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) point-defence missile system (PDMS), Mk.41 VLS and 2×8 AShM launchers.
STM is competing against French shipbuilder DCNS and a joint Saab-BMT Defence Services bid.
DCNS is proposing its 4,000-ton BELH@RRA (Belharra) frigate, which is envisaged to serve as a bridge between DCNS’ 6,000-ton FREMM and 2,500 to 3,000-ton Gowind designs. The DCNS BELH@RRA is likely to include sensors and munitions from Thales and MBDA, respectively.
Saab and BMT are offering BMT’s Venator-110 fitted with Saab’s Sea Giraffe active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radars, RBS-15 Mk3 AShM and SME-150 electronic support measures (ESM) system.
STM is the sole body authorized by the Turkish government to market and export the MILGEM.
Currently, many of STM’s major export contracts are from Pakistan, which signed onto a 17,000-ton fleet tanker, an upgrade program for its Agosta 90B submarines and a hydrographic/oceanographic survey and harbour design program for a naval base in Ormara.
STM is negotiating with Pakistan for the sale of four MILGEM Ada corvettes. In November, STM General Manager Davut Yilmaz told MSI Turkish Defence Review, “Technical negotiations are still under way … it is planned to progress and finalize all aspects of the contract negotiations.”
Pakistan’s Minister of Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain stated, “The process is completed and construction of the ship will start in the near future.” The MoDP also said that two of the ships would be constructed at Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KSEW).