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The keel of the third MILGEM class corvette that Turkey has sold to Pakistan was laid on 25 October in a ceremony attended by top defence officials on both sides, local media reported.

The MILGEM project, undertaken by Turkish National Defence Ministry firm ASFAT, aims to build four vessels and is continuing as planned. The project represents the single largest export of the flourishing Turkish defence industry. The keel-laying ceremony was held in the shipyard of Pakistan’s economic hub Karachi on the Arabian Sea coast, with Turkish National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and Pakistani Defence Production Minister Zubaida Jalal Khan, in attendance.

Speaking at the ceremony, Akar expressed his pleasure at being in Pakistan and underlined that the two countries’ excellent relations were unique due to their long history. Ankara and Islamabad cooperate in many different domains, said Akar, adding: “Pakistani people, because of their invaluable support during our war of independence, have a special place in our hearts and minds. Turkish people will never forget the generosity of the Pakistani people with whom we’re always together both in good and bad times.”

For her part, Khan thanked Akar, as well as ASFAT, and all other contributors to the MILGEM project. The MILGEM project will always be remembered as a symbol of Turkish-Pakistani friendship, she said, praising the brotherhood between the two countries.

The corvettes from the project will feature start-of-the-art sensors and the most advanced weapon platforms, the Pakistan Navy said on Twitter. They will contribute to ‘maintaining peace, security & balance of power” in the Indian Ocean Region, it underlined.

Noting the Turkish defence industry’s improving capabilities, Akar said Turkey has made significant progress in many domains, thanks to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership. He reiterated that seven Turkish companies were among the biggest 100 defense companies in the world, adding that Turkey was happy to share its knowledge with Pakistan.

The Pakistani Navy signed a contract with ASFAT in July 2018 to acquire four MILGEM-class ships. In October 2019, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, along with Pakistan Navy Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, cut the first metal plate of the first corvette during a ceremony in Istanbul. Turkey is one of ten countries that can build, design and maintain warships using domestic capabilities. Following the ceremony, Akar and his Pakistani counterpart held a meeting to discuss further cooperation possibilities in the defense industry and bilateral and regional matters.