Skip to content Skip to footer

IDEAS 2018: Pakistan Navy MILGEM Corvette (and Frigate?) Update

In July 2018, Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) signed a contract with Turkey’s ASFAT A.S. (Military Factories and Shipyards Management Inc) for four MILGEM corvettes for the Pakistan Navy (PN).

Under the contract, Istanbul Shipyard and Karachi Shipyards & Engineering Works (KSEW) will each build two ships, the first of which is due in 2023. The fourth and final ship will join the PN in 2024.

In July, the Pakistani MoDP stated that it will receive “complete transfer of technology’ and the transfer of intellectual proprietary rights for the design of these ships to Pakistan.” Moreover, the fourth ship would not only be built at KSEW, but it will be the “first indigenously designed and constructed frigate.”

The statement implied that the final ship would be a different – potentially enlarged – design from the MILGEM Ada. Considering that the PN has a penchant of terming its Type 21 frigates as “destroyers,”the term “frigate” could simply internal nomenclature for the MILGEM Ada corvette (i.e., not mean anything).

However, at the 2018 International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS), which took place in Karachi, Pakistan in 27-30 November, the PN confirmed that the fourth ship will be a different design.

Speaking to journalists (via Quomi Awaz News), a PN official stated:

“We have finalized a plan with our Turkish brothers to construct MILGEM-class corvettes and frigates. God willing, in this project – and for the first time – the proprietary rights of the design will be transferred to Pakistan Navy; and fourth ship, which will be constructed in Pakistan, will be of Pakistani design. And it will be God willing, the first Jinnah-class frigate.”

Thus, it appears that the fourth MILGEM ship will spur a new line, i.e., the Jinnah-class line. Neither ASFATA.S. or the PN have revealed information regarding the specifications or capabilities of this ship, but with the PN clearly stating that the first three ships are ‘corvettes’,it is implying that the fourth ship will be a larger, more capable design (and thus earn the term, ‘frigate’).

Quwa had confirmed with ASFATA.S. and STM (Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik ve Ticaret A.Ş.), which had originally managed contractual negotiations for the PN MILGEM program, that the Jinnah-class is not related to the I-Class frigate, the first of which is currently under construction for the Turkish Navy.

In fact, based on the information available, it appears that the Jinnah-class frigate would be an enhanced variant of the MILGEM Ada. There are several such design concepts, namely the LF-2400 Light Frigate and STM’s Ada-based proposal for Brazil. STM also proposed a 3,500-ton variant to Colombia – the CF3500.

Though the Jinnah-class could bean entirely different sub variant, the LF2400 and CF3500 offer examples of the potential in the MILGEM design. For example, the PN could lengthen the hull and integrate a vertical launch system (VLS) for surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and, potentially, other munitions.

With the fourth MILGEM spurring anew frigate class, it is possible that the PN intends to procure more of the type through the 2030s. In 2040, the PN’s F-22Ps will reach 30 years of age and could be on track for retirement by then – the Jinnah-class frigate could be that replacement.

Regarding munitions, there were a number of relevant vendors exhibiting at IDEAS, including MBDA and RAMSYS GmbH.MBDA brought its complete naval line, i.e., the Aster-15 short-to-medium-range SAM and Aster-30 long-range SAM and the Exocet AShM. Its representatives would not comment on talks, but they had confirmed that the range on display was relevant to the PN.

Germany’s RAMSYS GmbH was marketing the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM). Its representatives confirmed that the RAM was being proposed for use on both upcoming (e.g.,MILGEM and OPV 1900) and existing PN surface combatants. This includes Chinese designs,such as the F-22P, Type 054A and FAC(M).

RAMSYS told Quwa that the PN even has the option to carry-out the integration work at KSEW, and that the process of pairing the RAM to new or existing ships would be relatively straightforward.

When asked about the RAM being liable to ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) – i.e., requiring US approval – RAMSYS said it was confident that it would not have any problems securing it. The company stated that it had already received a permit to export the RAM by the German government and, if a deal is reached, Berlin will directly manage ITAR-related issues with the US.

Though Leonardo was following a gag-order, its display at IDEAS was clearly directed at the host’s market. In terms of naval solutions, mock-ups of the AW159 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter and AW101 naval utility helicopter were clearly present. Turkish Aerospace told Quwa that the PN was pursuing new-built helicopters (and that the T-625 was drawing interest), so it is likely that the AW159 and AW101 were aimed at the PN, especially in relation to the MILGEM, Damen OPV 1900 and Type 054A.

Show CommentsClose Comments

Leave a comment