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A Look at Latest Status of the PN MİLGEM Project

Issue 97

The project, which was signed on September 6, 2018, and started on March 11, 2019 (T0), includes the construction of a total of 4 frigates based on the ADA Class Corvette design for the Pakistan Navy. Two of the ships will be built at the Istanbul Naval Shipyard and the other two at the Karachi Shipyard in Pakistan. 

This agreement is the single highest value contract signed by the Turkish Defence and Aviation Industry to date, and it marks a historic moment as it is the first domestically designed warship export. Taking the floor at the 9th Naval Systems Seminar held on October 14-15, 2019, at METU Culture and Congress Center, Ministry of National Defence (MSB) Shipyard's Deputy Director-General Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Mehmet SARI, made a speech about the PN MİLGEM Project and said, “We received the project worth over €1 billion from Pakistan despite all kinds of negative attempts by the Americans and this also paved the way for the Helicopter (T129B ATAK) Project.”

The construction of the first frigate was officially commenced with the first steel cutting ceremony held within the scope of the Delivery Ceremony of the TCG Kınalıada Corvette on September 29, 2019. The first steel to be used on the first ship of the Pakistan Navy MİLGEM (PN MİLGEM) Project was cut by President Recep Tayyip ERDOĞAN and Pakistan Navy Commander Admiral Zafar Mahmood ABBASI. The first ship under the PN MİLGEM project is planned to be delivered in Turkey in August 2023.

According to the production process calendar shared by the main contractor of the project, Military Factory and Shipyard Management Inc. (ASFAT), the first ship will be completed in the T0+54th month in Turkey, the second ship in the 60th month in Pakistan, the third ship in the 66th month in Turkey, and the last ship in the 72th month in Pakistan. There will be a 6-year time difference between the construction of the first ship and the delivery of the fourth ship. The last frigate of the Jinnah Class will be delivered at Karachi in 2025 and will enter the Pakistan Navy inventory.

Within the scope of the AMAN-2019 Exercise, which was hosted by the Pakistan Navy on February 8-12, 2019, in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean with the participation of Defence Turkey Magazine as a special guest, Pakistan Navy (PN) Commander Admiral ABBASI visited the TCG Gökçeada Frigate and announced that Jinnah Class Corvettes (Pakistan Navy classifies them as Corvettes) will be equipped with a Vertical Launching System (VLS). However, he did not share any information about the number of ships to be equipped with the VLS. The ship image, which was shown at the PN MİLGEM Project 1st Steel Cutting Ceremony on September 29, 2019, featured two 8-cell Vertical Launching System (VLS) modules behind the main cannon as well as an Aselsan GÖKDENİZ Close-in Weapon System (CIWS) where the RIM-116 Mk49 Lancer is located. We also learned that there would be some differences in the design of the fourth Jinnah Class Frigate. Pakistani engineers and technicians who will begin on-the-job training during the construction of the first ship are expected to acquire the necessary know-how to make changes to the ADA Class Corvette design until the construction of the fourth ship. It was also stated that the fourth vessel would be designed jointly, and it will also be the first frigate designed by Pakistan with its own means. Due to VLS integration, the Jinnah Class will be longer and heavier than the ADA Class.

It is considered that the propulsion system to be used in Jinnah Class Frigates, which will be shaped according to the requirements of the Pakistan Navy, will include only diesel engines and not the LM2500 gas turbine. ADA Class Corvettes can reach a maximum speed of 31 knots with their propulsion system in the Combined Diesel and Gas (CODAG) configuration, which consists of two 32MW diesel engines and a gas turbine, while the maximum cruising speed of the Jinnah Class is 26 knots. We learned that the Jinnah Class Frigates will accommodate an additional 40 personnel compared to the ADA Class, and include ablution rooms and a small mosque. Unlike the ADA Class, which can stay at sea for 10 days, the Jinnah Class Frigates will be able to stay at sea for 15 days, and the ships will be armed with Chinese C-802 guided anti-ship missiles instead of Harpoon or ATMACA missiles. The Pakistan Navy is also expected to place the Harba Anti-ship Cruise Missile in the Jinnah Class vessels in the future. As noted above, the RIM-116B (Block 1A) Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) and the 21-cell Mk 49 Mod 3 Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) located on the helicopter hangar, will be replaced with 20mm Phalanx or Aselsan product 35mm GÖKDENİZ CIWS. The ships will also be equipped with two 8-cell VLS, which can launch LY-80/HHQ-16 Medium Range Air Defence Missiles. The Jinnah Class Frigates will also incorporate several critical sub-systems of the ADA Class Corvette. Some of those are the Havelsan ADVENT Combat Management System (CMS), Aselsan ARES-2N ESM (ships are also expected to use AREAS-2NC ECM System), HIZIR Torpedo Countermeasure System, SMART-S Mk2 3D Search Radar, YALTES product EPKİS Integrated Platform Management System, and the Meteksan Defence product the YAKAMOS Hull-Mounted Sonar System. The Jinnah Class Frigates will also be equipped with the Naval Information Exchange System (NIXS) developed by MilSoft for the Pakistan Navy and the indigenous data-link system “Link Green.” The Pakistan Navy has established a nationwide communication infrastructure called RedLine to enable communication between NIXS-equipped platforms. 

Meanwhile, the Main Contractor ASFAT and Aselsan signed a €176.9 million contract on November 14, 2019, for the supply and integration of Aselsan product systems and equipment to be included in the Jinnah Class Frigates. Under this contract, Aselsan will make its deliveries between 2022-2023.