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MILGEM Corvette Program

In scope of the MILGEM Project that consisted of the construction of 12 (4 optional) Patrol and Anti-Submarine Warfare Ships through local design. The first 8 were initially planned to be completed by 2008 at a cost of $1.6 billion. UTDI/SSM is responsible for finance of local contributions ($266 million). When the Milgem project was officially launched in 1996, the initial plan was to locally build MEKO A-100 corvettes of Blohm+Voss, the German shipbuilding company which specialized in building high technology warships and submarines. Blohm+Voss proposed the Turkish Navy reduce its requirement for 12 OPVs under Milgem project to 8 and buy 4 new Meko A-100 class multi-role corvette instead of first batch of 4 Milgem OPV project. Blohm+Voss had previously offered Polyphem SSGW-equipped Meko A-100 class OPV ships for Milgem project.

In the early 2000s, the partnership plan with Blohm+Voss was shelved and the Turkish Navy decided to design and build a completely indigenous corvette. Istanbul Naval Shipyard Command executes and coordinates the design, development and construction works of the Milgem project since 12 March 2004. Designed in Turkey, Istanbul Naval Shipyard is the prime contractor with Aselsan, Havelsan and Yates integrating key electronic equipments and the ship's advanced command and control system. Nearly forty other Turkish private sector companies were involved in the production of the Heybeliadas sub-systems.

Taskizak shipyard was selected as main contractor. Design, construction, fitting out, installation of equipment and weapons and commissions performed at Taskizak and private shipyards. The Bidders proposed to build the first of MILGEM Ships in Istanbul Naval Shipyard and at least 4 ships in a private shipyard and the remaining MILGEM Ships (if any) in Istanbul Naval Shipyard. The order of shipyard in which MILGEM Ships, other than the first ship, shall be built was under the preference of the Bidder. The first two of these ships were built at the Istanbul Shipyard of the Turkish Naval Forces, and the remaining 10 to be built at private shipyards in Turkey.

As of October 2011 the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) open a tender soon and to invite RMK Marine and Dearsan Shipyards for bidding on the remaining vessels. Since these private yards did not have the necessary infrastructure, or qualified personnel to carry out this project, the third ship of the program [TCG Burgazada F-513] was expected to be constructed at the Istanbul Naval Shipyard, with the participation of RMK Marine and Dearsan staff for the purpose of on-the-job training. The remaining vessels would be constructed under a business model, where the winning bidder which will submit the best proposal, takes the lion share.

The first welding ceremony of the prototype vessel, TCG HEYBELIADA [F-511] was held on 26 July 2005 at the Istanbul Naval Shipyard Command. HEYBELIADA - the first local designed corvette - was designed and constructed by Istanbul Naval Shipyard with the participation of local industry through the material, equipment and services supplied by Undersecretariat for Defence Industries. This Project has a local industry participation of over 65% with 50 local companies, acquisition and construction operations are being performed in accordance with the acquisition model. In this respect, the hull appendages and form optimization and model trials of the ship was performed by Istanbul Technical University, the design documents has been examined by Turkish Lloyd according to the Rules of Naval Ships (2004) and the platform construction and outfitting equipment have been produced and integrated by the local sub-contractors.

The Prototype Ship HEYBELIADA was successfully launched on 27 September 2008, the 470th Anniversary of Preveze Naval Battle Victory and Turkish Naval Forces Day, and the keel up ceremony of the Second Ship was held on the same day. The first national ship is named 'Heybeliada' due to the fact that the school, where many Turkish naval officers have been educated for centuries, is located on the Heybeliada (one of the Prince's Islands in Istanbul). Total cost of the ship, which is the first comprehensive warship built in Turkey with 80 percent national resources, was $250-260 million dollars.

Accomplished outfitting/integration and test activities, Prototype Ship TCG-HEYBELIADA has gone into service under the Turkish Navy on 27 September 2011, and Second Ship was launched on the same day. Outfitting/integration and test activities of the Second Ship were ongoing as of early 2012. Following the delivery of TCG HEYBELIADA [F-511], 7 + 4 additional platforms are intended to be built at Turkish private shipyards jointly and in cooperation with the Istanbul Naval Shipyard Command of the TNFC.

The national warship project (Milgem) contract, which was awarded to Ko Holding subsidiary RMK Marine for $2.5 billion in January 2013, was cancelled by the Defense Industry Implementation Committee (SSIK) on 27 September 2013. The prime minister's inspection office concluded that summer that the tender in question was not carried out in a competitive manner because other eligible companies were not permitted to bid. But it was an open secret that MILGEM Project was taken from RMK Marine because Ko Holding came under government criticism for giving shelter to anti-government protesters during the summer at one of its Istanbul hotels.

During a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and attended by Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet zel and Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, a report prepared by the Prime Ministry Monitoring Council (BTK) regarding the Milgem contract stating that it was not in the public interest was approved by the SSIK. According to the decision, the third and fourth national ships that were supposed to be built by RMK Marine will be produced by the Istanbul Naval Shipyard Command, while an additional four will be put up for a tender in the future.

In 2014, the head of naval projects for SSM, said that a request for proposals (RfP) for the Batch II (from ship 5) corvettes (also known as MILGEM -G) was expected to be issued by the end of the year.

MILGEM corvettes will be sold to any interested allied and friendly countries. The ships already receive interest particularly from Canada, as well as from Pakistan, Ukraine and South American countries. Ships planned to be sold at a price of 500 million dollars are expected to provide 100 per cent profit. In November 2008 it was reported that Turkey and Pakistan will cooperate on a venture to supply four warships developed under MILGEM to the Pakistani Naval Force over a ten year period, with three to be built in Pakistani shipyards.

In April 2011 President Abdullah Gul's visited Jakarta and met with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with the scope of Businessmen and Industrialists Confederation of Turkey (TUCSON), Turkey Exporters Assembly (TIM) and the Independent Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (MSIAD) organized by the Turkey-Indonesia Trade and Investment Forum attended the meeting. Around 150 Turkish businessmen accompanyied Gul during the Forum in Indonesia. During the visit, an important field of defense industry was signed between the two countries. The scope of the protocol signed for the MILGEM Turkey's national ship project, making two ships for Indonesia.

In July 2016 the Turkish defense acquisition agency Undersecreteriat For Defence industries (UDI) issued a request for proposal for 4 more Milgem class corvettes. The reasoning behind this move was to free Istanbul Naval Shipyard for further construction projects class and to give support and work to the Turkish private shipyards. The RfP documents state that the competition was open to Turkish shipyards. And the contenders must have a floating dock or a slipway at least 115 meter or longer. The deadline for delivering the proposals was 30 November 2016. This second batch of four ships would probably have the same design and armament of the existing ships.

Pakistan has a requirement for 4 corvettes and wants the first ship to be built in Turkiye while the rest in Karachi Ship Yards. Turkey and Pakistan committed to enhancing defence and defence industry ties at the beginning of May 2016. The programs on the table included the Pakistan Armys interest in the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) T-129 ATAK attack helicopter, the sale of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Super Mushshak trainers to Turkey, and two Pakistan Navy programs the upgrading of the Navys three Agosta 90B submarines and the possible purchase of four Ada-class (MILGEM) corvettes. The acquisition of thes four modern corvettes had been in the making for almost a decade.

After the completion of the MILGEM program, the next project will be the design, development and construction of a national frigate, a larger ship. Milgem, as a national naval development program, is seen as a precursor of the TF-2000. This program will be open to cooperation with interested foreign companies.



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