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Pakistan Navy Makes Gains in Surface Combatant Programs

Key Pakistan Navy (PN) surface combatant programs have started materializing, namely its Babur-class (MILGEM) corvette and Yarmouk-class Batch-II offshore patrol vessel (OPV) programs.

On September 23, the PN commissioned its first of four Babur-class multi-mission corvettes, PNS Babur, at Istanbul Shipyard. The corvettes were ordered as part of a $1.5 billion USD contract with ASFAT A.Ş. signed in July 2018. Under the contract, ASFAT A.Ş. agreed to both customize and co-produce the MILGEM Ada-class anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette for the PN’s needs and help the PN design and produce its own original frigate (i.e., the Jinnah-class frigate program). Two of the ships were to be built at the Istanbul Shipyard, while Karachi Shipyards & Engineering Works (KSEW) in Pakistan was to build the other two.

The PN was slated to receive its first two ships in 2023, and its last two by 2025. In addition to PNS Babur, the second, third, and fourth ships – i.e., PNS Khaibar, PNS Badr, and PNS Tariq, respectively – are currently undergoing sea trials in Turkey and Pakistan. Based on the photos available, the Babur-class corvette does not seem to be equipped with all of its weapon systems (e.g., anti-ship cruising missiles or short-range air defence systems), so these may be fitted at a later date, likely in Pakistan.

On September 12, Damen Shipyards Galati launched the first of the PN’s Yarmouk-class Batch-II OPVs, the PN Hunain. This is a continuation of the PN OPV program, which started in 2017 as part of a contract with the Netherlands’ Damen Shipyards for two ships with an option for two more. Damen delivered the initial pair – i.e., PNS Yarmouk and PNS Tabuk – to the PN in February and May of 2020.

The first pair of ships were based on Damen’s OPV 1900 design, while the second batch were based on the larger OPV 2600. Damen’s OPV-series of ships are generally built according to commercial standards, hence giving the ships a lower acquisition cost compared to other designs. However, Damen Shipyards is willing to customize the ships according to the requirements of the customer.

The PN opted to configure both the OPV 1900 and OPV 2600 for conventional warfare roles, such as anti-ship/anti-surface warfare (AShW/ASuW), that would typically belong to corvettes and frigates. Indeed, the PN is referring to the OPVs as ‘corvettes’ within its own service.

The Babur-class corvette and Yarmouk-class corvette/OPV programs are pieces of the PN’s vision to build a 50-ship surface fleet, of which 20 ships would be ‘major surface vessels.’ Both platforms are customized with major changes to the baseline platform, especially in terms of anti-air warfare (AAW) and AShW…

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