Pakistan’s top naval official said the inclusion of Turkish-made state-of-the-art MILGEM-class ships will be a “huge boost to our defense” and will keep the country’s enemies at bay.
“Weakness invites aggression, but strength keeps your enemy at bay. So, the inclusion of the MILGEM-class ships will significantly strengthen the Pakistan Navy in a very big way,” Pakistan Navy Chief Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview in Istanbul.
Niazi was in the Turkish metropolis to attend the inauguration ceremony of the PNS Khaiber, the third of four MILGEM corvette ships manufactured by Türkiye for the Pakistan Navy at the Istanbul Shipyard, on Friday.
The launch ceremony was attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and senior military officials from both countries.
Niazi said the MILGEM ships are “very capable platforms, equipped with surface-to-surface and surface-to-air weapon systems.”
These ships are outfitted with cutting-edge technology, he said, adding that “inclusion of these ships will be a big boost for the defense needs of Pakistan in general and Pakistan Navy in particular.”
In July 2018, the Pakistan Navy signed a contract with Turkey’s state-run defense firm ASFAT to acquire four MILGEM-class ships.
According to the agreement, two corvettes will be built in Türkiye, and the other two will be built in Pakistan, which also involves technology transfer between the two countries.
MILGEM vessels have a length of 99 meters (325 feet), a displacement capacity of 2,400 tons, and a speed of 29 nautical miles.
Niazi described MILGEM as a “truly collaborative military production,” saying, “These ships will be a very good addition to our fleet, ensuring that our (territorial) waters are safe and our defense needs are met.”
Lauding the two countries bilateral ties, Niazi said, “Pakistan and Türkiye have long relations based on mutual trust, friendship, and principles.”
“In times of need, the two countries have stood by each other, and we have stood by each other on all international events as well as the issues that the two countries face,” he added.
“The two countries have come much closer in the defense arena in the recent past as this MILGEM project is a testament to this fact,” he said, adding: “I have no doubt in my mind that such efforts will continue, and Pakistan and Türkiye are well on their way to becoming ‘two countries and one nation’.”
In response to a question about increased defense cooperation between the two nations, he noted: “Both militaries are continuously exchanging knowledge and expertise. Construction and upgradation projects such as 17,000 Ton Fleet Tanker, PN-MILGEM and Agosta 90B submarines, Super Mushak trainers, UAV drones, and so on are evidence of this strong friendship and military cooperation.”
He said the two sides are “extensively involved in broad-based engagements ranging from high-level visits to operational-level knowledge sharing and training collaboration.”
The Pakistan Navy’s first corvette ship, PNS Babar, was launched in Istanbul in Aug. 2021, and the foundation stone for the second ship, PNS Badr, was laid in Karachi in May of this year.
Türkiye is one of 10 countries in the world capable of designing, building, and maintaining warships with domestic resources.
MILGEM project is a national warship program of the Republic of Turkey. Managed by the Turkish Navy, the project aims at developing multipurpose corvettes, frigates and destroyers that can be deployed in a range of missions, including reconnaissance, surveillance, early warning, anti-submarine warfare, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air warfare, and amphibious operations.
On 5 July 2018, Pakistani military’s ISPR announced that a Turkish firm has won the tender to build four MILGEM corvettes for the Pakistan Navy. Turkish defence minister, Nurettin Canikli, described the deal as “the largest defense export of Turkey in one agreement.”
By September 2018, some details have emerged that corvettes for Pakistan Navy will have CODAD propulsion system instead of CODAG, thus increasing the sea endurance from 10 to 15 days. Further, the first vessel is planned to be constructed in 54 months and the remaining vessels will be constructed in 60, 66 and 72 months, respectively.
The Babur-class corvettes will be one of the most technologically advanced surface platforms of the Pakistan Navy fleet. Keel Laying ceremony of third PN MILGEM-class warship was held. The warship will complete in 2024.
Coinciding with the commissioning ceremony of TCG Kınalıada attended by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, steel cutting ceremony for the first MILGEM ship for the Pakistan Navy was also held there on 29 September 2019. The first Pakistani vessel named PNS Babur was launched on 15 August 2021. On 8 November 2021, Pakistan held keel-laying ceremony for fourth and final MILGEM corvette for the Pakistan Navy.
Anadolu Agency story with additional input from Global Village Space News Desk.