On 01 May, the Pakistan Navy (PN) announced that Hudong–Zhonghua Shipbuilding Group in Shanghai and Istanbul Naval Shipyard (INSY) laid the keels of the PN’s third Type 054A/P frigate and second MILGEM corvette, respectively. The PN is also expected to receive its first (of four) Type 054A/Ps this summer.
The Type 054A/P and MILGEM programs are centerpiece projects of the PN’s efforts to modernize as well as expand its major surface fleet (to more than 20 ships). The PN ordered four Type 054A/Ps in 2017 and 2018, and four MILGEM corvettes in 2018. Under the latter program, the PN is also designing an in-house warship – i.e., Jinnah-class frigate – with ASFAT A.Ş.’s (Military Factory and Shipyard Corporation) support.
By accounting for the Type 054A/P and MILGEM corvettes, the PN would have 12 ‘major surface vessels’ (14 if one includes the two Damen OPV 1900s). This is still well short of the 20+ vision. It is possible that the bulk of the remaining six-plus ships could come through the future Jinnah-class frigate program.
In terms of design, the Type 054A/P is similar to the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Type 054A, but with some export-oriented changes. The most obvious of these changes is the inclusion of the SRC410C phased-array radar instead of the Type 382 3D air search radar. Likewise, the Type 054A/P will use export-only munitions rather than the domestic versions used by the PLAN.
On the other hand, the PN MILGEM is a heavily customized version of the Ada corvette. It has a longer hull at 108.8 m, space for a 16-cell vertical-launch system (VLS), and a two-by-three set-up for anti-ship missiles (AShM). The PN MILGEM has a displacement of 2,988 tons (making it closer in size and capability to the I-Class frigate than the Ada corvette).
The Jinnah-class frigate will follow the PN MILGEM, with the first frigate being the fifth ship of the whole program. The PN will likely use the MILGEM as the basis of the Jinnah-class frigate, and a ship based on the I-Class is plausible. Alternatively, the PN could look to enlarge the MILGEM design even further.
This is a massive expansion for the PN, which had traditionally operated less than 10 large (i.e., 2,000-ton-plus) surface warships. In addition, not only is the PN expanding its fleet, but its new ships will also deliver much improved electronics and weapon systems, notably integrated air defence set-ups.
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 “Pakistan Navy keel laying ceremonies of Type-054 A/P Frigate, Milgem Class Corvette held.” Associated Press of Pakistan. 01 May 2021. URL: https://www.app.com.pk/national/pakistan-navy-keel-laying-ceremonies-of-type-054-a-p-frigate-milgem-class-corvette-held/
 İbrahim Sünnetci. “A Look at PN MILGEM/Jinnah Program.” Defence Turkey. Volume 15. Issue 103. 2020. URL: https://www.defenceturkey.com/en/content/a-look-at-pn-milgem-jinnah-program-4338