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KSEW Cuts Steel for Pakistan’s Second MILGEM Corvette

On 09 June 2020, the Pakistan Navy (PN) announced on social media that Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KSEW) cut the steel of the PN’s second MILGEM corvette.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) inked a deal for four MILGEM corvettes with Turkey’s Military Factory and Shipyard Corporation (ASFAT A.Ş.) in July 2018.

According to the MoDP and ASFAT A.Ş., the PN will receive its first MILGEM by 2023-2024, while the other three ships will arrive by 2025. KSEW is building two of the four ships, while Istanbul Naval Shipyard (INSY) is responsible for the remaining two vessels.

On 04 June 2020, INSY announced that it laid the keel of the lead PN MILGEM corvette.

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Notes & Comments:

KSEW’s illustration of the PN MILGEM differs from the one INSY had shown during both its steel-cutting and keel-laying ceremonies. The KSEW model shows an elevated vertical-launch system (VLS) and two triple-cell anti-ship cruising missile (ASCM) launchers. The INSY model, on the other hand, shows a more recessed VLS and two quad-cell ASCM launchers. The hull of the KSEW model also appears to be longer.

The illustration of the KSEW model is likely closer to the actual design of the PN’s MILGEM. However, the PN, KSEW, ASFAT A.Ş., and/or INSY may reveal another illustration with additional changes in the future.

In general, the two models (representing two of the four ships) indicate that VLS is a standard feature for all four PN MILGEM corvettes. This PN will load a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system in this VLS, and while the Chinese LY-80 is a frontrunner, the PN may select a different system. Interestingly, the CEO of MBDA Italy had visited the PN Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) in Islamabad in October 2019.

The original press release of the MILGEM contract stated that the fourth PN MILGEM will be a ‘joint design’ between ASFAT A.Ş. and Maritime Technologies Complex (MTC), and that it would be a “frigate.” It is not known if the KSEW model is the design of this “frigate,” or solely a modified MILGEM Ada corvette.

With the intended capabilities of the MILGEM ‘corvette’ exceeding that of the PN’s current frigates, it can function as a ‘frigate.’ Moreover, given the expenditure involved in revising the Ada’s design so that it can support VLS, a production run of three ships would be a limited use of this design. But a PN official did say that the first three ships are ‘corvettes,’ while the fourth will be a ‘frigate.’

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