Pakistan – MILGEM Corvette / Jinnah Frigate Program
MILGEM project is the naval warship program in Turkey. The Turkish Navy administers it. The MILGEM Corvette project aims to build various multipurpose warships, including frigates and corvettes, which can be used for purposes ranging from surveillance, warning, and anti-submarine warfare to surface, surface-to-air warfare. The MILGEM project develops Ada class anti-submarine corvettes and ELINT corvette, Istanbul class multipurpose frigates, and TF2000 class anti-warfare destroyers for the Naval force of Turkey. It also develops Jinnah-class frigates exclusively for the use of the Pakistan Navy.
Jinnah Class Frigate:
The Jinnah Class Frigates are the multipurpose frigates meant for the use of the Pakistan Navy. Military Factory and Shipyard Management Corporation (ASFAT) of Turkey and the Pakistani National Defense Ministry Ammunition Production signed an agreement in July 2018 for the development of four MILGEM class frigates. The agreement for the program was signed between Military Factory and Shipyard Management Inc. and the Pakistan Ministry of Defense Production on July 5, 2018.
Meanwhile, Pakistan will also acquire design rights and information about the vessel construction, as per the agreement. Two of the vessels will be developed at a Turkish facility, while the other two will be produced at Karachi, Pakistan, under the agreement. Nurettin Canikli, the Turkish defense minister, termed the deal as the largest single defense export. The budget for the project was initially estimated at 1.5 billion dollars at the time. After completing the design phase of the Pakistan Navy MILGEM Corvette project, the development of the first ship under the program began on September 29, 2019.
The development for the first vessel started in June 2020, in a ceremony attended by many officials from both sides. The development is underway at Istanbul Naval Shipyard and is destined to be added to the Pakistani fleet in 2023. The chief guest of the ceremony, Commodore Ehsan Ahmed Khan, said the historical event should further strengthen the brotherly ties between the two countries. The construction began for a second vessel in Karachi, Pakistan, on October 25, 2020. All four ships will be delivered to Pakistan by 2025. At the welding ceremony for the development of the third ship for Pakistan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistan ambassador to Turkey, Muhammad Sajjad Qazi, started the project. President Erdogan, in his address, hailed the strategic partnership and cooperation between the two brotherly countries.
He termed this project a major boost in the working relations between the two countries. The President also reaffirmed the support of Turkey to Pakistan in the defense sector. Pakistan Navy is in the process of modernizing and elaborating its fleet. In this regard, the deals have been inked with Turkey, China, and the Netherlands. The addition of these technically advanced corvettes is poised to enhance Pakistan Navy’s capabilities in the maritime domain. Once inducted into the fleet, the Turkish-made ships will significantly improve Pakistan’s naval defense sector.
The MILGEM corvettes, once inducted, will be the most advanced stealth surface platforms in the Pakistani Navy fleet. The corvette has in its ammunition advanced state-of-the-art weapons and accurate sensors, which include surface to surface, surface to air missiles, plus a command and control system. Although the accurate features of the ships have not been disclosed yet, according to a former Pakistan Naval Chief, Admiral Zafar Mehmood Abbasi, the ships will be equipped with 16-cell VLS behind the main gun for the Chinese medium-range missiles, that could be LY-80/HHQ-16. At the same time, the direct action weapons of the Pakistani vessel can be Chinese-made C-802 or locally made Harbah missiles. An image of the ship from the initial ceremony showed the Turkish Gokdeniz weapon system in place, rather than the RAM missile system, which is equipped in Turkish ships.
MILGEM ships use one LM2500 gas turbine with two diesel engines. The propulsion power is 31,600 kilowatts. The main specifications and features of the Pakistani Jinnah class ship are; the total length of the ship is 108.2 meters. The beam is placed at 14.8 meters. It has a maximum speed of 31 knots and an operational range of 3500 nautical miles. The endurance of the ship stands at 15 days. The total number of crew members is 93;40. In addition, the Pakistan Navy refers to the ships as corvettes and not frigates.