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Turkish-made MILGEM ships ‘huge boost’ to Pakistan’s defence

Pakistan’s top naval official has said the inclusion of Turkish-made state-of-the-art MILGEM-class ships will be a “huge boost to our defence” and will keep the country’s enemies at bay.

“Weakness invites aggression, but strength keeps your enemy at bay. So, the inclusion of the MILGEM-class ships will significantly strengthen the Pakistan Navy in a very big way,” Pakistan Navy Chief Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview in Istanbul on Friday.

Niazi was in the Turkish metropolis to attend the inauguration ceremony of the PNS Khyber, the third of four MILGEM corvette ships manufactured by Türkiye for the Pakistan Navy at the Istanbul Shipyard.

The launch ceremony was attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and senior military officials from both countries.

Niazi said the MILGEM ships are “very capable platforms, equipped with surface-to-surface and surface-to-air weapon systems.”

These ships are outfitted with cutting-edge technology, he said, adding that “inclusion of these ships will be a big boost for the defence needs of Pakistan in general and Pakistan Navy in particular.”

Why Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to Türkiye matters

Deal for four vessels

In July 2018, the Pakistan Navy signed a contract with Türkiye’s state-run defence firm ASFAT to acquire four MILGEM-class ships.

According to the agreement, two corvettes will be built in Türkiye, and the other two will be built in Pakistan, which also involves technology transfer between the two countries.

MILGEM vessels have a length of 99 metres (325 feet), a displacement capacity of 2,400 tonnes, and a speed of 29 nautical miles.

Niazi described MILGEM as a “truly collaborative military production,” saying, “These ships will be a very good addition to our fleet, ensuring that our (territorial) waters are safe and our defence needs are met.”

Lauding the two countries bilateral ties, Niazi said, “Pakistan and Türkiye have long relations based on mutual trust, friendship and principles.”

“In times of need, the two countries have stood by each other, and we have stood by each other on all international events as well as the issues that the two countries face,” he added.

“The two countries have come much closer in the defence arena in the recent past as this MILGEM project is a testament to this fact,” he said, adding: “I have no doubt in my mind that such efforts will continue, and Pakistan and Türkiye are well on their way to becoming ‘two countries and one nation’.”

In response to a question about increased defence cooperation between the two nations, he noted: “Both militaries are continuously exchanging knowledge and expertise. Construction and upgradation projects such as 17,000 Tonne Fleet Tanker, PN-MILGEM and Agosta 90B submarines, Super Mushak trainers, UAV drones, and so on are evidence of this strong friendship and military cooperation.”

He said the two sides are “extensively involved in broad-based engagements ranging from high-level visits to operational-level knowledge sharing and training collaboration.”

The Pakistan Navy’s first corvette ship, PNS Babar, was launched in Istanbul in August 2021, and the foundation stone for the second ship, PNS Badr, was laid in Karachi in May of this year.

READ MORE: Erdogan: Türkiye to help strengthen Pakistan’s military infrastructure

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