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Pakistan’s KSEW Launches Third MILGEM Corvette

On 20 May, Karachi Shipyards and Engineering Works (KSEW) launched the Pakistan Navy’s (PN) third Babur-class (MILGEM) multi-mission corvette. The PN designated the ship as the PNS Badr.

This is the first of two corvettes that KSEW is building under the original contract for four ships. Turkey’s Istanbul Naval Shipyard (INSY) is building the remaining two ships. INSY launched the lead corvette – i.e., PNS Babur – for sea trials in August 2021. The PN is slated to receive the PNS Babur by 2023.

Under a contract signed in 2018, the PN has four MILGEM corvettes on order. Though based on Turkey’s Ada-class design, the Babur-class carries several key modifications. The most noticeable of these changes was the addition of a 12-cell vertical launch system (VLS) and 2×3 anti-ship cruising missile (ASCM) suite.

The PN reportedly opted to equip the Babur-class’s anti-air warfare (AAW) suite with the MBDA Albatros-NG or Common Anti-Air Modular Extended-Range (CAMM-ER) surface-to-air missile (SAM) system.

As for the ASCM armament, it seems that the PN will equip the corvette with either the locally built Harbah or, potentially, an upcoming supersonic-cruising missile. Currently, the PN is using the Harbah ASCM from its Azmat-class fast-attack craft (missile) platforms.

In addition, the PN swapped out the RIM-116B (Block-1A) Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) point-defence missile system (PDMS) with the Aselsan Gökdeniz close-in-weapon-system (CIWS). Otherwise, the Babur-class is similarly equipped as its Turkish counterpart in that it uses a 76 mm main gun and dual triple-cell anti-submarine warfare (ASW) lightweight torpedo launchers.

In terms of electronics, the PN opted to configure the Babur-class corvette with the Aselsan-built SMART-S Mk2 radar, Havelsan ADVENT combat management system (CMS), Aselsan ARES-2NC electronic support measures (ESM) system, Meteksan Yakamos hull-mounted sonar system, Aselsan MİTOSTM WECDIS – i.e., an electronic chart display suite – and other Turkish subsystems.

The PN’s modifications resulted in several changes to the MILGEM’s specifications. In contrast to Turkey’s Ada-class ASW corvette, the Babur-class had a heavier displacement at 2,985 tons and it was also longer by a little over eight metres. From a size and capability standpoint, the Babur-class was similar to the LF-2400, a Turkish concept for a light frigate based on the MILGEM design.

Currently, two of the four MILGEM ships are now undergoing sea trials. INSY laid the keel for the second PN MILGEM ship in May 2021, while KSEW set the keel for the fourth vessel in November 2021.

Besides the four corvettes, the PN MILGEM contract also included a provision to design an original, follow-on frigate for the PN. This project developed into the forthcoming Jinnah-class frigate, of which the PN is reportedly planning to acquire up to six ships. Under the JCF program, the PN will retain ownership of the JCF design and produce its ships in Pakistan.

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