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Pakistan cuts steel for fourth Milgem corvette

Pakistan's state-owned Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KSEW) has cut the first steel for what will be the country's fourth Milgem-class corvette, the country's inter-services public relations (ISPR) office disclosed via an official media statement on 15 June.

A ceremony to mark the milestone was carried out at KSEW's premises in Karachi. While fourth-in-class overall, the vessel that is being worked upon would be the second Pakistani Milgem corvette to be constructed in-country.

Pakistan signed a contract for four Milgem corvettes with the Turkish defence engineering firm, Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik ve Ticaret (STM), in 2018. Under a technology transfer arrangement, two of the vessels are being built in Turkey, and the other two are being constructed in Pakistan with Turkish technical assistance.

Keel for the programme's first-of-class was laid down in June 2020 at Turkey's Istanbul Naval Shipyard, and the steel for the first indigenously built ship was cut at KSEW's facilities in June the same year.

Pakistan has given scant details on its Milgem corvettes' combat capabilities, but a computer-generated image of the vessel that was displayed as part of the steel-cutting ceremony depicts a total of six anti-surface missile launchers mounted amidship, in addition to a 76 mm naval gun in the primary position and a 16-cell vertical launch system (VLS) in the forward section.

“These corvettes will be fitted with state-of-art surface, sub-surface, and anti-air weapons and sensors, integrated through an advanced network-centric combat management system,” said the ISPR's 15 June statement, giving further hints of the vessel's capabilities.

The programe's first-of-class is expected to be launched in 2021 and it is scheduled to be handed over to the Pakistan Navy in 2023. The remaining three vessels are expected to be delivered in six-month intervals thereafter.

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