In July 2018, a contract was signed between Military Factory and Shipyard Management Corporation (ASFAT) of Turkey and the Pakistani National Defense Ministry Ammunition Production and Karachi Shipyard for the construction of four Milgem class vessels. Turkish defence minister, Nurettin Canikli, described the deal as “the largest defense export of Turkey in one agreement.”
The construction of the first ship will take 54 months and she is expected to be launched in 2021 and delivered to Pakistan Navy in 2023. The remaining ships will follow her in 6-month intervals. The last ship will be handed over in 2025.
The contract entails construction of two corvettes at Turkey while two at Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KS&EW). The contract has also provisions for transfer of design rights and construction know-how from Turkey to Pakistan.
Construction of corvettes in Pakistan is aimed to provide impetus to local shipbuilding industry and further enhance KS&EW capabilities. The MILGEM-class corvettes will be equipped with modern surface, subsurface and anti-air weapons, sensors and combat management system. These ships will be among the most technologically advanced ships of Pakistan Navy and will significantly contribute in maintaining peace, stability and balance of power in Indian Ocean Region.
Pakistan Navy press release
Speaking at the occasion, Chief Naval Overseas (Turkey), Commodore Syed Rizwan Khalid highlighted that the project is manifestation of strong relations between Pakistan and Turkey. He appreciated the “MILGEM” project for its construction standards, outfitting and performance. The Chief Guest also acknowledged the professional competence of Turkish Defence Firm and Istanbul Naval Shipyard for their meticulous efforts in meeting the timelines despite global crisis of COVID-19 pandemic.
The ceremony was attended by officials of Pakistan Navy, dignities and representatives of ASFAT, Istanbul Naval Shipyard and Turkish Lloyd.
The exact configuration of the Pakistan Milgem Class ships has not made public. During the Aman Naval Exercise held in February 2019, Admiral Abbasi said that Pakistan ships will be fitted with a 16-Cell VLS behind the main gun for Chinese made medium-range air defense missiles probably LY-80/HHQ-16 variant.
The main offensive weapons of the Pakistan ship could be either Chinese C-802 or local Harbah ASCMs. A CGI image used during the ceremony shows Turkish Aselsan built Gökdeniz close-in weapon system on the Pakistan ship in place of the RAM missile launcher of the Turkish ships.
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