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PNS Babur: Pakistan’s New Corvette Sets Sail for Home

ASFAT A.S. (Military Factory and Shipyard Management) announced that the Pakistan Navy’s (PN) lead MILGEM corvette – PNS Babur – has set sail to join the PN fleet. PNS Babur was launched from Istanbul Naval Shipyard (INSY) for sea trials in August 2021. It was originally scheduled for delivery in 2023. INSY had cut the ship’s steel in September 2019.

Background of the PN MILGEM Program

Pakistan signed the deal to acquire four MILGEM corvettes in 2018. The principal contractor was ASFAT A.S., which agreed to delegate work to Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW). INSY built two of the ships (PNS Babur and PNS Khyber), while KSEW constructed the remaining pair (PNS Badr and PNS Tariq). In addition, Pakistan contracted ASFAT A.S. to assist the Naval Research and Development Institute (NRDI) in designing an original frigate for the PN – i.e., the AS3400 or Jinnah-class frigate.

The Babur-class corvette is a custom variant of the Ada-class corvette. In comparison to the latter, the Babur-class is heavier with a displacement of 2,888 tons and longer with a hull length of 108.8 m. The extra space enables the corvette to carry the MBDA Albatros-NG, a medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) split across a 12-cell vertical launch system (VLS). The Albatros-NG provides the Babur-class with a credible anti-air warfare (AAW) system, perhaps the most effective AAW system in the PN’s fleet.

In addition, the PN is also fitting the Babur-class corvette with a domestic anti-ship missile (AShM) – either the Harbah subsonic-cruising missile, CM-302 supersonic-cruising missile, or the P282 anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM). It is also equipped with a standard-fare dual triple-cell lightweight torpedo (LWT) system for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations. 


Nucleus of Near-Shore A2/AD Operations

The multi-mission-capable Babur-class corvette is more capable than most of the PN’s surface warships, especially in terms of AAW. However, it is one piece of the PN’s wider modernization roadmap, which also includes larger ships, such as the Tughril-class and Jinnah-class frigates. In addition to the offshore patrol boats (OPV) being acquired from the Netherlands’ Damen Group, the new frigates will likely be deployed to support the PN’s open water needs, such as sea control, sea policing, and patrolling sea lanes.

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