On Sept. 23, 2023, ASFAT Inc, a defence contractor affiliated with the Turkish Ministry of Defense, ceremonially handed over the first Babur-class corvette (PN MILGEM), PNS Babur (280), to the Pakistan Navy at the Istanbul Naval Shipyard. In addition, the first two Hisar-class OPVs for the Turkish Navy were launched during the same ceremony.
urkish Defense Minister Yasar Güler and his Pakistani counterpart Anwar Ali Hayder attended the ceremony, along with other senior officers from the Turkish and Pakistani navies and representatives of Turkish defense companies.
Speaking at the ceremony, Defense Minister Yaşar Güler stressed that the simultaneous construction of four corvettes and two offshore patrol vessels in the Istanbul and Karachi shipyards as part of Pakistan’s MİLGEM project was a first in the history of the Turkish Republic and the defense industry.
Minister Güler pointed out that relations with Pakistan are improving day by day in all fields and said, “Our defense industry projects are one of the most important pillars of our cooperation.“
Given that cooperation and solidarity among friendly and allied countries has become more important than ever in this increasingly fragile global security environment, defense industry cooperation is also of great importance. The extremely important MILGEM projects implemented in this context are a great asset for Turkey and Pakistan, two countries active in their region and respected in the world.
Yaşar Güler, Turkish Defence Minister
About Pakistan PN MILGEM / Babur-class corvettes
PN MILGEM Program consists of 4 ships, 2 ships are being built in Istanbul Shipyard Command and another 2 are being built in KS&EW. Turkish Ministry of Defence owned ASFAT Inc. is the primary contractor of the project. The program started on 11 March 2019. The deliveries of the ships, which will be able to perform all kinds of military duties from air defense to submarine defense, are expected to be made at six-month intervals starting from August 2023.
The exact configuration of the PN MILGEM-class ships has not been made public yet. 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. It is expected that the Babur-class corvettes will be armed with MBDA’s Albatros NG air defence system and Harbah Anti-ship and land attack missiles.
The propulsion system for all the MILGEM ships consist of one LM2500 gas turbine in a combined diesel and gas turbine configuration with two diesel engines; total propulsion power is 31,600 kilowatts.
Turkey’s Ada-class are multipurpose corvettes able to conduct a wide a range of missions, including reconnaissance, surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air warfare.
- Displacement: 2,926 tonnes
- Length: 108.2 m
- Beam: 14.8 m
- Draft: 4.05 m
- Propulsion: CODAG
- Max speed: 31 knots
- Range: 3500 nautical miles
- Endurance: 15 days at sea
- Crew: 93+40
About Hisar-class OPV
Under the Offshore Patrol Vessel Project, initiated to meet the needs of the Turkish Naval Forces, the construction of 10 vessels is planned. The first ship is scheduled to be launched in 2023. Developed as a variant of the MİLGEM-class corvettes, the Hisar class OPV has been redesigned with a different main propulsion system and a different structural and general layout concept, allowing it to be built in a shorter time and at a lower cost.
The primary missions of the OPVs to be built are intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), search and rescue (SAR), counterterrorism, maritime interdiction operations (MIO), and maritime special operations. Other missions include naval air operations, electronic and acoustic warfare, land bombardment, defense against asymmetric threats, maritime traffic protection, and support and training for amphibious operations.
The Hisar-class OPV is being built using the “fitted for but not with” concept, which allows for the integration of newly developed indigenous weapon and sensor systems. The OPV, which can accommodate a total of 104 people, will have a range of 4500 nautical miles with its CODELOD (COmbined Diesel-eLectric Or Diesel) main propulsion system.
- Overall length: 99,56 meters
- Beam: 14,42 meters
- Draft: 3,77 meters
- Maximum speed: 24 knots
- Displacement: 2300 tons
A rendering shared by ASFAT indicates a heavily armed ship compared to average OPVs. According to the rendering, the OPVs will be equipped with anti-ship missiles (likely ATMACA or CAKIR), a 2×4 vertical launch system to launch surface-to-air missiles (probably Hisar family air defence missiles), a Gökdeniz close-in weapon system (CIWS), a 76-mm gun, and a small missile launcher, likely to launch laser-guided L-UMTAS missiles.
Considering the Turkish Ministry of Defence’s announcement marking the commencement of the construction of the OPV which indicated a “fitted but not with” design approach, it’s unclear whether the above weapons will be installed on the first ship, as officials didn’t provide specifics on the armament and sensor equipment of the OPVs.
Tayfun Ozberk is a former naval officer who is expert in Above Water Warfare especially in Littoral Waters. He has a Bachelor Degree in Computer Science. After serving the Turkish Navy for 16 years, he started writing articles for several media. Tayfun also offers analysis services on global naval strategies. He’s based in Mersin, Turkey.
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