President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi navy corvette
President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi performing steel cutting at the inauguration ceremony of Pakistan Navy's first MILGEM class corvette at Istanbul on August 15, 2021. Image Credit: Pakistan Navy

Islamabad: The first MILGEM-class corvette ship, named PNS Babur, for Pakistan Navy was launched from a shipyard in Istanbul.

The corvette was launched in a ceremony attended by Pakistan’s President Dr Arif Alvi and Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The induction of new warships “will augment Pakistan Navy’s (PN) capability and contribute in its efforts towards maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean Region” the official statement said. PNS Babur is slated for delivery in 2023.

Pakistan navy corvette Babur
Launching ceremony of the first MILGEM class corvette PNS Babur for Pakistan Navy was held at Istanbul Naval Shipyard on Monday, August 16, 2021. Image Credit: Pakistan Navy

Pakistan signed a $1.5 billion deal with Turkey in 2018 for the acquisition of four Ada class ships with Turkish state-owned defence firm ASFAT. Under the contract that included technology transfer, two ships were to be constructed at Istanbul Naval Shipyard and the other two at Karachi Shipyard. The deliveries of all corvettes will be completed by 2025.

Addressing the ceremony, the Pakistan president emphasised that the project “is a testimony of strong relations” and expressed the hope that it would further boost defence collaboration between the two countries.

Pakistan and Turkey are further strengthening their cooperation particularly in the defence domain to deal with common challenges and new and emerging threats as both nations shared common objectives of promoting peace, stability and development in their respective regions, Dr Alvi said.

Erdogan also stressed for broad defence partnership between the two countries. “We are in agreement [with Pakistan] to further our partnership in the defence industry,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey wants to expand its strong relations with Pakistan and cooperation in the defence industry in a way that improves trade relations. The Turkish president emphasised the need to closely work together to promote regional peace and stability, including in Afghanistan.

The ceremony was also attended by Pakistan’s chief of naval staff Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi, Turkish vice-president Fuat Oktaym, Turkish defence minister Hulusi Akar, Chief of Turkish General Staff General Yaşar Guler, commander of Turkish naval forces and other senior Turkish and Pakistani defence officials.

With the induction of the latest warships, Pakistan Navy will be equipped with multipurpose corvettes and frigates that can be deployed in a range of missions including surveillance, early warning, anti-submarine warfare, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air warfare, and amphibious operations.

The latest warships will strengthen the country’s maritime defence and deterrence capabilities as Pakistan Navy intends to build a fleet of more than 50 vessels, including 20 major surface ships. Pakistan Navy is also expected to induct four Type 054A frigates from China by 2021. Type 054 class frigates are considered the most technologically advanced, equipped with the latest surface, subsurface, anti-air weapons, as well as a combat management system and sensors.