Türkiye and Pakistan on Wednesday lauded their ever-growing strategic cooperation as they launched the last of the warships tailored for the Pakistani Navy as part of a project that has cemented strong defense ties between Ankara and Islamabad.
PNS Tariq, the fourth and the last of MILGEM corvettes built by Türkiye for Pakistan, was inaugurated at a ceremony in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi.
"Beyond its own needs, Türkiye also builds ships for many developed countries of the world,” Vice President Cevdet Yılmaz said at the ceremony. “Thanks to the capacity we have developed in the field of defense, we have the ability to voluntarily manage the processes in which we are involved, without the need for anyone's consent.”
"The establishment of global peace and stability depends on the establishment of a fair balance in the defense industry," Yılmaz noted.
Türkiye is always ready to share its knowledge, experience and technology with friendly countries in the defense industry sector, he said, adding, "Our joint projects with Pakistan are a good example of this approach."
The MILGEM (National Ship) marine platforms project is a Turkish warship program that aims to develop multipurpose corvettes and frigates that can be deployed in a range of missions. These include reconnaissance, surveillance, early warning, anti-submarine warfare, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air warfare, and amphibious operations.
In July 2018, the Pakistan Navy signed a contract for the acquisition of four Ada class ships with Turkish state-owned defense firm ASFAT. Two corvettes were envisaged to be built in Türkiye and the other two in Pakistan, in a deal that included technology transfer.
The first corvette was launched in August 2021, the second one in May 2022, and the third in November 2022.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the project had “crowned our relations” with Pakistan.
Yılmaz stressed on Türkiye’s will to continue to cooperate with Pakistan in the field of the defense industry in many different fields, including helicopters and aircraft. He said implementation of these projects would strengthen and consolidate the friendship between the two countries.
For his part, Sharif said Türkiye and Pakistan enjoy "unique" and "deep-rooted" relations, stressing it was “high time” to enhance strategic cooperation and add more joint ventures in other areas.
"Today's joint venture project is another example of our commitment to support each other, to strengthen each other's industries, trade and enhance our economic cooperation," the prime minister added.
The MILGEM corvettes feature state-of-art surface, sub-surface and anti-air weapons and long-range effective sensors, integrated through an advanced network central combat management system.
The anti-submarine combat frigates are on average 99 meters (325 feet) long with a displacement capacity of around 24,000 tons and can move at a speed of 29 nautical miles.
The new generation warships are difficult to track due to their low radar cross-section, and will further enhance the defense capability of the Pakistan Navy.
Türkiye is one of only 10 countries in the world that can design, build and maintain warships by utilizing its domestic capabilities.
The MILGEM project was initiated in 2000 to locally design and build a fleet of multipurpose corvettes and frigates that will replace older ships.