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A Look At PN MILGEM/JINNAH Program

Issue 103

Signed between the Main Contractor Military Factory and Shipyard Management Inc. (ASFAT) and the Pakistan Ministry of Defense Production on July 5, 2018 in Islamabad and became effective on March 11 2019, Pakistan Navy MILGEM Corvette Project (MILGEM-J, Pakistan Naval Forces named JINNAH Class), covers the construction of a total of 4 corvettes based on the design of ADA Class Corvette. Within the scope of the contract, two of the ships will be built at the Istanbul Shipyard Command and the other two at the Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works/KSEW in Pakistan.

The project budget was announced to be US$ 1.5 billion at that time, and MoND Shipyards Deputy Director Rear Admiral Mehmet SARI, who delivered a speech on October 14, 2019 at the 9th Naval Systems Seminar, stated that the contract value was nearly EUR 1 billion. Following the completion of the design phase of the PN MILGEM Corvette Project, the construction of the first ship was officially launched on September 29, 2019, with the first steel cutting ceremony held within the scope of the TCG Kınalıada Corvette Delivery Ceremony. The first steel to be used on the first ship of the PN MILGEM Project was cut by President Recep Tayyip ERDOĞAN and Pakistan Navy Commander Admiral Zafar Mahmood ABBASI. The keel-laying ceremony of the first ship was held on June 3, 2020.

As per the construction process calendar shared by ASFAT, the main contractor of the project, the first ship would 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 72nd month in Pakistan. There would be a period of 6 years between the start of the construction activities of the first ship and the delivery of the fourth ship. The last frigate of the JINNAH Class would be delivered at Karachi in 2025 and enter the Pakistan Navy inventory. 

The Steel Cutting Ceremony of the 3rd Ship in the MILGEM-J JINNAH Class Corvette Project (it was supposed to be the 2nd ship according to the schedule, but the construction of the 3rd ship was initiated before the construction of the 2nd ship) was held on June 9, 2020 at Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works/KSEW in Pakistan. The keel-laying ceremony of the 3rd ship was held on October 25, 2020 with the participation of Hulusi AKAR, the Minister of National Defense, Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan NIAZI, Chief of the Pakistan Naval Staff (CNS), Muhsin DERE, Deputy Minister of National Defense, and Esad AKGÜN, CEO of ASFAT. I think Pakistani engineers and technicians that received on-the-job training at the Istanbul Shipyard Command during the construction of the first ship were assigned for the construction of the 3rd MILGEM-J JINNAH Class Corvette.

When the the high-resolution image of MILGEM-J/JINNAH Class Corvette is examined, which was prepared and shared in an electronic environment at the ceremony, it can be immediately noticed that it differs in external appearance from both ADA Class Corvettes and İSTİF Class Frigates of the Turkish Navy. In terms of technical features the JINNAH Class Corvettes can be located between the 2,400-ton (at full load) ADA Class Corvettes (have an overall length of 99.56m, an overall beam of 14.4m and draught of 3.89m) and the 3,000-ton İSTİF Class Frigates (have an overall length of 113.2m, an overall beam of 14.42m and draught of 4,05). According to PN MILGEM brochure issued by ASFAT recently the JINNAH Class Corvettes with mono-hull, displacement-type hull form, will have an overall length of 108.8 metres, an overall beam of 14.8m, draught of 4.1m, maximum speed of 26+ knots and displacement of 2.988 tons. As in the İSTİF Class, JINNAH Class Corvettes will also be equipped with Leonardo DRS (Oto Melara) 76 mm Super Rapid gun (it is claimed that the order was placed for 4 guns in the second half of 2019, but according to the information we have obtained the contract was signed only for one ship). The Fire Control System of the 76 mm Super Rapid gun will be an Aselsan product, and the required Fire Control Radars will also be provided by Aselsan (the product in the image is similar to the AKR-D Block-1, one is right above the bridge and the other is right behind the GÖKDENİZ CIWS placed at the stern of the ship.)

Just behind the bow gun there is a 16-cell Vertical Launching System (VLS) for the HHQ-16 Medium Range Air Defense Missile System. The HHQ-16/LY-80N, which is a medium-range, semi-active radar-guided air defense missile system from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC), is also used at the Type 054A/P Frigates that are under construction in China for the Pakistan Navy (together with 32-cell VLS). The HHQ-16, with a maximum range of 42 km (HHQ-16B, the upgraded version of the missile has a range of 70 km), has a warhead weighing 70 kg and is claimed to be capable of intercepting targets at altitudes between 15 m and 18 km. Pakistan Land Forces, on the other hand, ordered 6 batteries from the land-based version of the HHQ-16 System (HQ-16A/LY-80) for US$ 373 million (another source indicates as US$ 226 million for 3 batteries) and 8 IBIS-150 Radars (HQ-16A/LY-80 Air Surveillance Radar) for US$ 40 million and inducted into service in March 2017. One of the HQ-16A/LY-80 batteries is deployed in Karachi. On board the JINNAH Class there are two Type 345 (NATO code MR-90 Front Dome) Illuminating Radars which are part of the HHQ-16 Medium Range Air Defense Missile System, the first one is located right in front of the mast and the other one is located just behind the funnel.

Defence Turkey magazine attended the AMAN-2019 Exercise executed on February 8-12, 2019 at the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean with a special invitation. At that time Chief of the Pakistan Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan NIAZI was serving as Fleet Commander with a rank of Vice Admiral. During the course of AMAN-2019 Exercise on Februray 10th the then Chief of Pakistan Naval Staff Admiral Mahmood ABBASI visited the TCG Gökçeada Frigate andhad a short conversation with the Commanding Officer of the ship, Commander Engin AĞMIŞ. The then Commander Pakistan Fleet Vice Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan NIAZI also accompanied Admiral ABBASI during his visit. During the conversation that we also followed as journalists the four PN MILGEM (dubbed JINNAH Class by the PN) Class corvettes for Pakistan were also discussed. The then CNS Pakistan Admiral ABBASI had noted that as their ships will be equipped with Medium-Range Air Defence Missile System (LY-80/HHQ-16) launched from a Vertical Launching System (VLS, with 16 cells) installed behind the main deck gun, a modified version of the Combat Management System (based on GENESİS ADVENT) will be integrated to the vessels.

MILGEM-J/JINNAH Class Corvettes will also contain 6 Harbah Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles and Land Attack Cruise Missiles (ASCM/LACM projected to reach a range of 450 km to 750 km) that are to be placed at a 90 degree angle with each other and hidden behind the lid (used for reducing the RCS of the ship) at the port and starboard at the pool section right behind the mainmast, two 25 mm Remote Controlled Stabilized Naval Guns (STOP) manufactured by Aselsan (at the stationary port and starboard deckhouse) and again two Mk32 two-barrel surface vessel torpedo tubes in 324 mm diameter and to be placed at the stationary port and starboard deckhouse. Instead of the 21-cell Mk49 Mod 3 Guided Missile Launching System and RIM-116 Block 1A/HAS Short Range Air Defense Missiles that installed on the helicopter hangar at ADA Class Corvettes, Aselsan’s GÖKDENİZ Close-In Weapon System will be utilized in JINNAH Class Corvettes (Though the CIWS appears as the GÖKDENİZ CIWS in the image, the Phalanx Mk-15 Block 1B could be utilized as well since the contract worth EUR 176.9 million signed between Aselsan and ASFAT on November 14, 2019 did not include the GÖKDENİZ System). Turkmenistan Naval Forces were the first export customer of GÖKDENİZ CIWS. In line with the contract signed in July 2019, one GÖKDENİZ Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) was ordered for the C92 Corvette which is being constructed for the Turkmenistan Naval Forces. GÖKDENİZ is also expected to be employed by the İSTIF Class. JINNAH Class Corvettes will also include a helicopter pad where the SH-3 SeaKing and/or Z-9EC Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW) Helicopters can conduct landings and take-offs.

The maximum cruising speed for JINNAH Class Corvettes was disclosed as 26+ knots, therefore I have initially projected that merely diesel machines would be used in the Main Propulsion System to be used in the corvettes that will be designed according to the Pakistan Naval Forces’ demands and that LM2500 gas turbine would not be included. However, on October 6, 2020 GE Marine announced that they signed a contract with STM for the supply of LM2500 gas turbines for the JINNAH Class Corvettes. Thanks to their CODAG type main propulsion system  which comprises a LM2500 gas turbine coupled with a pair of MTU 16V595TE90 diesel engines that generates 31,640kW (approx.32MW), Renk’s cross-connected reduction gear, Escher Wysss model shaft and propeller each approx. 30m long (CPP, featuring five-blade propellers with 3.8m diameter) ADA Class can reach a maximum speed of 31 knots with full load. The ADA Class can attain a cruising speed of 15 knots with a single diesel engine twin shaft configuration and can reach a speed of 27 knots with two shafts when only gas turbine is on. The ADA Class can reach a cruising speed of 22.5 knots with two diesel engines, and 30 knots with two diesel engines and LM2500 gas turbine is activated. There is no official information on which company’s engine or engines will be used at the JINNAH Class Corvettes, but the 595 series MTU 6V595TE90 with a rated power of 4.320kW and deployed at the ADA Class Corvettes are being manufactured as per the demands of the customers although their serial production has been stopped and the 4000 Series MTU 20V4000M93L engine that generates 4.300kW/5.766hp and selected for the İSTİF Class Frigates are the strongest candidates. 

As far as I know, the Main Propulsion System is the most expensive (in a single item) foreign sourced sub-system of the ADA Class Corvettes (According to the data provided by the SSB, for the supply of the main propulsion systems in the TCG Heybeliada and TCG Büyükada Corvettes, EUR 62.686 million was paid to MTU Turkey Company). MTU Company was responsible for the supply and integration processes regarding the Main Propulsion Systems of the first two ships as part of the MILGEM project. However, this responsibility was assigned to STM for the third and fourth ships, TCG Kınalıada (F-513) and TCG Burgazada (F-514). By procuring the sub-systems such as the diesel machines, gas turbine, two CPPs and the cross-connected reduction gear from the OEMs and integrating them, STM improved its engineering capabilities and know-how and at the same time it achieved remarkable savings in the procurement costs of the Main Propulsion System compared to the first two ships. 

According to the information I have learned, the JINNAH Class Corvettes will have an additional personnel capacity of 40 people compared to the ADA Class, and the ships will have a bathhouse and a small mosque/prayer room. Unlike the ADA Class, which has a 10-day endurance at sea without replenishment, the JINNAH Class Corvettes will be able to stay at sea for 15 days. The JINNAH Class Corvettes will incorporate several critical sub-systems of the ADA Class Corvette. Some of them are as follows: Havelsan’s GENESİS ADVENT Combat Management System (CMS), Aselsan’s SMART-S Mk2 Three Dimensional Naval Search Radar (3BAR), ALPER Navigation and LPI (Low Probability of Intercept) Radar, ARES-2N Radar ESM (AREAS-2NC Radar Electronic Attack System is also expected to be deployed at these ships), Laser Warning System, HIZIR Torpedo Countermeasure System and Inertial Navigation System (LN-270 INS/GPS), Integrated Platform Control and Monitoring System manufactured by YALTES and METEKSAN Defence’s YAKAMOS Hull Mounted Sonar System. The JINNAH Class Corvettes will also be equipped with the Naval Information Exchange System (NIXS) developed by MilSOFT for the PN and the indigenous data-link system “Link Green”. The Pakistan Naval Forces established a communication infrastructure named RedLine across the country to enable communication among NIXS equipped platforms