Turkey pledges support to boost Pakistan’s military infrastructure

By Sarp Ozer

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA): Turkey will provide all support needed to strengthen Pakistan’s military infrastructure, the nation’s president said on Friday.

In a video message sent to the launching ceremony of the third vessel of the MILGEM Ada class corvettes – a joint venture of Turkey and Pakistan, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “The production process of all these ships, which are equipped with the most modern weapons and sensor systems developed by our country, continues as planned.”

The third vessel, named Badr, was launched at Karachi Dockyard in the Pakistani port city with a ceremony attended by Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistani Defense Minister Muhammad Israr Tareen, and other officials.

In July 2018, the Pakistan Navy signed a contract for the acquisition of four MILGEM-class ships with Turkey’s state-run defense firm ASFAT. According to the plan, two corvettes will be built in Turkey and the other two will be built in Pakistan, which also involves technology transfer.

The Turkish leader said the deliveries of the ships, which will be able to perform all kinds of military duties from air defense to submarine defense, will be made at six-month intervals starting from August 2023.

More cooperation sought

With an emphasis on the deep-rooted historical ties between Turkey and Pakistan, Erdogan said the project is one of the most concrete and recent examples of it, voicing hope for the project to be “a harbinger of greater cooperation.”

He said Pakistan is the country with the most strategic location in South Asia. “Throughout history, this region has been the apple of the world’s eye with its ancient culture and wealth. Pakistan and its people have a special place for us.”

Erdogan also emphasized the necessity of providing all means of support to strengthen the military infrastructure of Pakistan, “whose security, stability and prosperity we consider equal to ours.”

The other vessel of the project, named Kaibar, is to be launched in September in Istanbul, he said.

Also addressing the ceremony, the Turkish national defense minister hailed the Ankara-Islamabad ties, describing Pakistan as “a second home.”

Akar said the corvettes are to be “one of the most technologically advanced surface platforms of the Pakistan Navy.”

He added: “Equipped with state-of-the-art weapons and modern sensors, including surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, anti-submarine weapons, advanced command and control system, these ships will contribute significantly to the capabilities of the Pakistan Navy.”

MILGEM vessels are 99 meters (325 feet) long with a displacement capacity of 24.00 tons and can move at a speed of 29 nautical miles. The anti-submarine combat frigates can be hidden from radar.

In October 2019, Erdogan, along with then-Chief of Pakistan Navy Adm. Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, had cut the metal plate of the first MILGEM Ada class corvette during a ceremony in Istanbul.

Turkey is one of the 10 countries in the world which can build, design, and maintain warships using its national capabilities.

[Photo: Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar (C – R), Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif (C – L), Pakistani Defense Production Minister Mohammed Israr Tareen and other officials attend the launching ceremony of Badr the third ship of Pakistan Milgem Corvette Project Ceremony in Karachi, Pakistan on May 20, 2022. Photojournalist :Arif Akdogan/AA]

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