Turkish-made corvettes tailored for the Pakistan Navy are set to contribute greatly to the defense of the South Asian country, Commander of the Pakistan Navy Adm. Muhammed Amjad Khan Niazi said
Niazi told Anadolu Agency (AA) in Istanbul, where the third MILGEM (National Ship) corvette’s launching ceremony was held, that those vessels will “keep enemies at distance.”
Expressing that military weakness will bring “aggression,” Niazi said: “But power keeps your enemies at a distance. For this reason, MILGEM corvettes will significantly strengthen the Pakistan Navy and defense.”
Describing MILGEM corvettes as very capable platforms, Niazi pointed out that the ships are equipped with surface-to-surface- and surface-to-air weapon systems.
The corvettes have state-of-the-art technology, Niazi said, noting: “It is the product of purely military cooperation. With the addition of these ships to our navy, the security of our territorial waters will be ensured and our defense needs will be met.”
The Pakistan Navy commander said that the two countries have long-term relations based on mutual trust, brotherhood and principles.
“The two countries stood by each other in times of need. We stood side by side in all international events and issues that the two countries faced,” he added.
Niazi stated that his country and Türkiye became closer in the field of defense in recent years and that the MILGEM project is proof of this.
Pointing out that the armed forces of the two countries share mutual knowledge and expertise, Niazi noted that the Pakistan Naval Supply Ship (PNS MOAWIN), the Pakistan Agosta 90B Submarine Modernization, “Super Mushshak” trainer aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) provide the evidence of strong friendship and military cooperation.
The launching ceremony of the third ship, built as part of the Pakistan MILGEM project, was held on Nov. 25 in Istanbul.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, at the ceremony held for the event, stressed what he said was a strong mutual will between Türkiye and Pakistan to further expand their defense cooperation.
“The solidarity between us is strengthening day by day with a strategic perspective decisively based on the history, friendship and potential of the two countries,” Erdoğan affirmed, adding that the defense industry is one of the important pillars of this cooperation.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, also speaking at the ceremony, said that the promotion of defense cooperation between Pakistan and Türkiye is for peace, not for war or aggression.
Sharif thanked Erdoğan and the people of Türkiye for always standing behind Pakistan in difficult situations every time.
“Pakistan and Türkiye are deeply engaged in promoting our defense capabilities for peace, not for war or aggression, and as they say, if you want to live in peace, you must be prepared for war,” the premier added.
“So, this (MILGEM corvette ships) is not for aggression. This is for defense,” he noted.
Pakistan is trying to increase its naval capacity because of its tense relations with its neighbor India for decades.
The MILGEM marine platforms project is a Turkish warship program that aims to develop multipurpose corvettes and frigates that can be deployed in a range of missions. These include reconnaissance, surveillance, early warning, anti-submarine warfare, surface-to-surface- and surface-to-air warfare, and amphibious operations.
The project has so far completed the deliveries of four Ada-class corvettes to the Turkish Navy, the first of which was the TCG Heybeliada in 2011, the second was the TCG Büyükada in 2013, the third the TCG Burgazada in 2018 and the fourth ship, the TCG Kınalıada in 2019.
The fifth vessel, the first MILGEM I-class frigate of its kind, the Istanbul Frigate (F-515), was launched in January last year.
Pakistan signed an agreement with Türkiye for four MILGEM corvettes in 2018.
The vessels are on average 99 meters (325 feet) long with a displacement capacity of around 24,000 tons and can move at a speed of 29 nautical miles.
The corvettes are equipped with surface-to-air guided missile systems, surface-to-surface guided missile systems, a 76-millimeter main battery cannon, a torpedo launch system, a close air defense system (CIWS), a total of two 25 mm STOP Remote Controlled Stabilized Naval Gun Systems by Turkish defense giant Aselsan, hull-mounted sonar, and torpedo jamming and deception system features.
According to the plan, two corvettes were envisaged to be built in Türkiye and the other two in Pakistan, in a deal that included technology transfer.
The first MILGEM is targeted to be delivered to the Pakistan Navy in 2023.