The keel-laying ceremony of the first MILGEM corvette for the Pakistani Navy has taken place at the Istanbul Naval Shipyard, the result of a September 2018 contract between the Turkish Military Factory & Shipyard Management Corporation (ASFAT), the Pakistan Ministry of Defence and the Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KS&EW). This will see the construction of four MILGEM class ships to be built at the Istanbul Shipyard Command and the other two at the Karachi Shipyard. The first ship is expected to be launched in 2021 and delivered to the Pakistani Navy in 2023 with the remaining ships following at six month intervals and the last delivered to the Pakistan Navy in 2025. The contract also provides for the transfer of design rights and construction know-how from Turkey to Pakistan.
The multi-purpose corvettes can perform a wide range of missions including reconnaissance, surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missions. Their total length is 99.5 meters with a maximum width of 14.4 meters, a displacement of 2,400 tons at a draught of 3.9 meters and a maximum speed of 29 knots. During the construction, the principles of stealth technology were largely applied and it has a landing platform for a 10-ton helicopter but though the exact configuration of Pakistan’s MILGEM vessels have not been fully published to date, according to posters at the ceremony, the vessels will most likely be equipped with 16 cell Vertical Launch Systems for Chinese LY-80/ HHQ-16 missiles and in the aft section, an ASELSAN GÖKDENIZ Close-in weapon system (CIWS). This indicates that the Pakistani MILGEM is somewhat longer than its Turkish sister ships while according to the Turkish Ministry of Defence, Turkey is preparing to put the first I-frigate class into water at the end of 2020, which means that many new technologies from this will be incorporated into the Pakistani corvettes.