First Steel Cut For Pakistan Navy Milgem Project Ship

Pakistan Navy Chief OF Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi and the President of the Turkish Republic, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan jointly cut the first steel of the first Milgem class warship for Pakistan. The ceremony was held on 29th September 2019 in Istanbul Naval Shipyard.

In July 2018, a contract was signed between Military Factory and Shipyard Management Corporation (ASFAT) of Turkey and the Pakistani National Defense Ministry Ammunition Production and Karachi Shipyard for the construction of four Milgem class warships. The construction of the first ship will take 54 months and she is expected to be launched in 2012 and delivered to Pakistan Navy in 2023. The remaining ships will follow her in 6-month intervals. The last ship will be handed over in 2025.

The contract has also provisions for transfer of design rights and construction know-how from Turkey to Pakistan.

The first batch of two ships will be constructed in Istanbul Naval Shipyard while the remaining two in Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works.

The exact configuration of the Pakistan Milgem Class ships has not made public. During the Aman Naval Exercise held in February 2019, Admiral Abbasi said that Pakistan ships will be fitted with a 16-Cell VLS behind the main gun for Chinese made medium-range air defense missiles probably LY-80/HHQ-16 variant.

The main offensive weapons of the Pakistan ship could be either Chinese C-802 or local Harbah ASCMs. A CGI image used during the ceremony shows Turkish Aselsan built Gökdeniz close-in weapon system on the Pakistan ship in place of the RAM missile launcher of the Turkish ships.

The Father Of Milgem Has Died

Admiral Örnek, on board of frigate TCG Salihreis during Denizkurdu-05 exercise. Photo: Turkish Naval Forces.

Today, in the early morning hours the 20th Commander of Turkish Naval Forces, retired Admiral Özden Örnek has died. He was 75 years old and being treated for an undisclosed illness for the last 15 days at a hospital.

Admiral Örnek was at the helm of Turkish Naval Forces between August 2003 and August 2005. This was a period of time with a lot of fundamental changes in Turkish Navy.

The Milgem project wasn’t started during his tenure but he was tirelessly promoted the idea inside the Turkish armed force and fought for it. He was instrumental in bringing the procurement agency, the shipyard and the design office together and create a working project scope.

In his book Milgem’in Öyksü -The Story of Milgem- published in 2017, he tells the story of his internal and external struggles very outspokenly.

In 2007 a new magazine published a diary allegedly belonging to Admiral Örnek. These counterfeit documents and other digital data was used against him and many prominent Turkish naval officers in Sledgehammer plot. He was sentenced to 20 years in 2012 and spend 41 months behind bars only to be acquitted after the case’s prosecutor argued that digital data in the files submitted as evidence in the case were faked and did not constitute evidence.

Naval officers who had worked with him praise his work and believe that his vision will shape the Turkish Naval Forces in 21. Century.

Admiral Örnek is survived by his wife Sevil, his son Tolga and two grandchildren from his son Burak who died in January 2018.



F-515 İSTANBUL 2021
F-518 İÇEL



Displacement: 3000 tons, full load
Dimensions: 113,20 x 14.4 x 4.35 metres
Speed, Range: 15 knots economical, 29+ knots maximum, 6570 miles at 15 knots.

Guns: 1 x 76mm, 1 x Mk 15 Phalanx, 2 x 12,7mm
Missiles: 16 x SSM
Mk41 Mod 2 launcher for 64 RIM-162 ESSM SAM
Torpedoes: 2 x 324 mm Mk 32 triple launcher for Mk 46 Mod 5; anti-submarine torpedoes.
Helicopters: 1 x S-70-B2 Seahawk

Radars: SMART-S Mk2 3D air/surface search; Sting fire control; ALPER navigation
Sonars: Search/attack
Other: ASELFLIR 300D, ARES-2N ESM system

This class is a natural evolution of the Ada class corvettes with a larger surface to surface and a surface to air missile load.
The first steel for the lead ship TCG İstanbul was cut on 19 January 2017. The details on machinery and other weapon and sensor systems have not been disclosed yet.

More Milgem’s For Turkish Navy


Coming soon to a slipway near you.

Turkish defence acquisition agency Undersecreteriat For Defence industries (UDI) has issued a request for proposal for 4 more Milgem class corvettes.

To be honest, I did not expect that UDI would prepare a tender for more Milgem class warships, adding a new twist to the long and winding project. The reasoning behind this move can be

  • to free Istanbul Naval Shipyard for further construction projects such as İ class
  • to give support and work to the Turkish private shipyards

The RfP documents has not much valuable information. The competition is open to Turkish shipyards. And the contenders must have a floating dock or a slipway at least 115 meter or longer. The dealine for delivering the proposals is 30th November 2016.

This second batch of four ships will probably have the same design and armament of the existing ships.

Second Generation Milgem Design Revealed


A conceptual drawing of Milgem-G class. Original photo by Arda Mevlütoğu. Enhancements by me.


During the IDEF 2015 12th International Defense Industry Fair, Turkish Navy shared the first conceptual drawing of the second generation of Milgem ships which are also called as Milgem-G

So, what do we see here?

Nothing unorthodox or groundbreaking or very experimental. From the outside the ship is an enlarged Milgem. The inside changes can only be speculated at this moment.

The hull is basically the same as the existing Milgem class ships. It is longer and heavier due to the increased weapon load and other design changes, but there appears no important changes either on the hull or on the superstructure.

The main gun is a 76mm with a stealth cupola. There is 16 canister VLS just behind the gun. As Turkish Navy uses Mk41 VLS system it is safe to say that the same system will be used in Milgem-G class. These canister will be loaded with ESSM missiles.

The forms of the bridge and the main mast is almost identical to the existing Milgem class only slightly enlarge. There will be a Smart-S Mk2 radar and ARES-2 ESM suit on the mast.

There are 16 anti ship missiles in the area between the main mast and the funnel. This is the twice the usual load of the existing anti ship missiles normally carried on Turkish warships. So not all the missiles will be Harpoon otherwise will be too expensive to procure and maintain 16 anti ship missiles.

The design of Milgem-G from the funnel till the end of the ship is identical to the Milgem. The only major difference is the close in weapon system. While the Milgem has the RAM anti-air missiles the Milgem-G has a Phalanx gun. The reason for this change might be the high cost of the RAM missile system compared to MK-15 Phalanx.

There are two remotely controlled guns on the both sides of the funnel. The details are sketchy but I expect the chaff, flare launchers and torpedo counter measure launchers to be on their existent places. There is no need to change their places.

The above mentioned are the external differences between the two generation of Milgem ships. The internal changes are very hard to tell at this time. But nevertheless I think one might safely say that the combat management system of the second generation will be an improved version of the first generation.

Once the design is completed and cast, the Under-secretariat for Defence Industries, will issue a request for information from Turkish shipyards. This will mark the start of the construction program of the second class of the Milgem ships.

The Keel Of The Third Milgem Corvette Will Be Laid On Friday

The Milgem project will make an important step on 27 September 2013.

The 27th September, the anniversary of the Battle of Preveza, celebrated as the Turkish Naval Forces Day.

This year the second Milgem class corvette F-512 TCG Büyükada will enter into service and the keel of the third ship F-513 TCG Burgazada will be laid at the Istanbul Naval Shipyard.

This is the big step. As reported earlier the tender for the construction of the 6 additional Milgem class corvettes at the RMK Shipyard was cancelled and the future of the programme was in uncertainty.

The plan was, that the third ship was going to be constructed at the naval shipyard in Istanbul where the personnel of the private shipyard would receive a hands on training on the how to build a naval warship like a naval shipyard.

Turkish Navy cannot afford, not to have more Milgem class corvettes thus they must have stepped in and decided to go ahead with the construction of the third ship themselves.







Troubled Waters For The Milgem Project?


F-511 TCG Heybeliada, in Istanbul.

The Turkish armament procurement agency UDI is preparing for a renewed tender for the Milgem-S construction Project according to the news in Turkish media.

UDI will invite RMK ile Dearsan, Desan, ADİK, İstanbul, Sedef ve Yonca Onuk shipyards for this second tender.

Earlier this month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed the report prepared by the Prime Ministry Inspection Board, which concluded that the contract was not in the best interest of the public and should be cancelled.

According to the contract the Turkish private shipyard RMK Marine was supposed to build 6 Milgem-S class corvettes for Turkish Navy. The contract was worth of USD 2.5 Billion.

In early 2013, the UDI, choose RMK as the main contractor for the Milgem-S construction. Both parties were about to complete the contract negotiations when the Prime Ministry Inspection Board started its inspections after receiving an official complaint from another shipyard.

This cancellation and renewal of the tender process stretches the acquisition procedure at least for another couple of years. Now the complete process of issuing RfI’s getting the RfP’s evaluationg the bids, etc. starts a new.

Two weeks ago, Turkish Navy issued a letter saying that it was ready to produce the remaining 6 Milgem in the Istanbul Naval Shipyard- where the existing two ships were constructed if it seems to be necessary. This is an act of desperation to prevent any prolongation.

The Istanbul Shipyard will be involved in the construction of the MILGEM follow-on build programme. According to UDI, whichever yard wins the MILGEM follow-on build programme will build its first ship – the third of the class – at Istanbul Naval Shipyard to benefit from the prior knowledge built up by the Turkish Naval Forces during the construction and integration of the first two vessels.

F-512 TCG Büyükada making a northbound passage on Bosphorus.

F-512 TCG Büyükada making a northbound passage on Bosphorus.

The Turkish Navy will get its Milgem class corvettes in the end come rain or come shine. But the cancellation of the Milgem tender derails the new type of procurement UDI was trying to implement. One may also argue that this cancellation may have effectively killed it.

What UDI was trying to carry out was to create shipyards with special abilities or centers of excellence in certain ship types. The Yonca-Onuk shipyard which constructs Kaan Class interception boats for Turkish Coast Guard is one of such COE’s. They are high specialised in constructing high speed boats made of composite materials.

UDI had identified seven yards – ADIK, Çelik Tekne, Dearsan, Desan, Istanbul Denizcilik, RMK Marine and SEDEF – as candidates to meet the needs of the naval programme across the surface warship and amphibious/auxiliary categories. The goal of UDI was to narrow down the candidates to between four and five qualified yards, of which two would service the complex warships build programme, while the rest would compete to build afloat support and amphibious vessels.

RMK and Dearsan shipyards were destined to be shipyards specialised in construction of complex steel warships. Apparently the plans of UDI were not appreciated by someone in the Turkish shipyard industry.

This is very ironic as I can recall that the most senior officials at UDI were openly complaining that they failed to create an interest at the Turkish Shipyards when UDI was trying to start various naval construction projects 5 – 6 years ago. The shipyards were very picky at that time as they were cosily building ships for the civilian usage with the civilian standards. But after the global economic crisis in 2008 the orders for the civilian ships has dried up and suddenly, the once ignored naval construction projects started to look very interesting.

But in the meantime, UDI has –rightly- decided that the needs of the Turkish Navy won’t be enough to keep all the shipyards occupied. Therefore UDI devised the plan to create specialised shipyards. Now this plan might be dead with the renewal of the MILGEM follow-on build programme.

In a few weeks, when the process of the second bids get really underway, we will see how long the construction of the follow up ships will be delayed and if the UDI’s plan to create specialised shipyards did survived.

ADA CLASS (Milgem)

F-511 HEYBELİADA 27 September 2008 27 September 2011
F-512 BÜYÜKADA 27 September 2011 27 September 2013
F-513 BURGAZADA 18 June 2016 4 November 2018
F-514 KINALIADA 3 July 2017 29 September 2019

F-512 TCG Büyükada
Displacement: 2300 tons, full load
Dimensions: 99 x 14.4 x 3.75 metres
Speed, Range: 15 knots economical, 29+ knots maximum, 3500 miles at 15 knots.
Crew: 93

Guns: 1 x 76mm, 2 x 12,7mm
8 x Harpoon SSM; Mk-144 Guided Missile Launcher
21 x RAM SAM
Torpedoes: 2 x 324 mm Mk 32 triple launcher for Mk 46 Mod 5; anti-submarine torpedoes.
Helicopters: 1 x S-70-B2 Seahawk

Radars: SMART-S Mk2 3D air/surface search; Sting fire control; ALPER navigation
Sonars: Search/attack
Other: ASELFLIR 300D (on F-511 and F512), Seaeye – Ahtapot (on F-513 and F-514) ARES-2N ESM system

MİLGEM is the first indigenous shipbuilding project staged in Turkey. Turkish Navy is responsible for the initial design and for the determining technical specification of the weapon, sensor, machinery, and other subsystems. UDI is responsible for purchasing these systems.

The missions of MİLGEM class are showing the flag, search/rescue, patrol, observation, and anti-submarine warfare.

The sonar of MİLGEM class is being produced in Turkey. The 12,7mm machine guns on the aft are mounted of ASELSAN build STAMP (Stabilized Machine Gun Platform) and they are controlled remotely.

The keel of the first ships TCG Heybeliada was laid on 26th July 2005 in Istanbul Naval Ship Yard and she was launched on 27 September 2008. The sea trials for the first ship started in October 2010.

The second ship, TCG Büyükada was launched on 27th September 2011 and on the same day TCG Heybeliada was commissioned. On 27 September 2013, TCG Büyükada was commissioned into Turkish Navy and the keel for the third ship F-513 TCG Burgazada was laid. she was launched in June 2016.

TCG Kınalıada was launched on 3 July 2017 and commissioned on 29 September 2019. She is the first ship to be fitted with the Atmaca anti-ship missiles.

Indonesia To Buy 2 Milgem Corvettes From Turkey?

Turkish President Gül is in Indonesia for an official visits. According to the President’s office, following eight cooperation agreements signed between the two countries, during the visit.


A Memorandum of Understanding in Technical Matters; Cooperation Agreement on Defense Industry; A Memorandum of Understanding in Cooperation between Small and Medium-Scaled Enterprises; A Memorandum of Understanding in Cultural Exchange Program; Sea Transport Agreement; A Memorandum of Understanding in Developing Labor Force; A Memorandum of Understanding in Investment Support and a Memorandum of Understanding in Cooperation on Exchange of News and Programs between Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) and the Indonesian State Television.

I have emphasized the Cooperation Agreement on Defence Industry, because according to Turkish Zaman newspaper this agreement cover sales of two Milgem class corvettes to Indonesia. I was not able to find another independent source on the internet to verify this information. Though there a few Indonesian websites confirming the signing of the above mentioned agreements between two nations.

If this news turns out to be true, then it will be big news. As it will be the first major export success for Milgem and important milestone for Turkish defense industry.

Let’s wait and see how things will develop.

>Milgem Has Started Her Sea Trials

>What a beautiful sight.

The indigenous designed Turkish frigate F-511 TCG Heybeliada has started her sea acceptance tests (SAT)  on 2 October 2010 according to Turkish Navy.

For more photos and for a video click here.
Photo source: Turkish Navy

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