Hürriyet Daily reported that as part of its efforts to manufacture indigenous surface warships, Turkey is attaching top priority to bolstering the capability of the country's private shipyards.
A senior procurement and industry officials said that we expect to see our shipyards develop capabilities to take part in our major surface warship programs. Presently, one of the Turkish Navy's top projects is a program dubbed Milgem, which stands for national ship in Turkish, to locally design, develop and produce at least 8 corvettes worth around USD 2 billion.
The first ship, the TCG Heybeliada, was put to sea in September 2008 and is expected to enter service next year after completion of systems integration and related tests. The vessel was manufactured at the Turkish Navy's Tuzla Shipyard near Istanbul. The production of a second Milgem corvette, the TCG Buyukada is ongoing at Tuzla.
One industry official said that the general plan is to produce the first few Milgem and TF-2000 ships at Tuzla and then continue the building of the next vessels at private shipyards. The problem is that presently the Tuzla military shipyard is the only facility that has the capability to build Milgem corvettes and TF 2000 frigates. So the Turkish government wants at least one private shipyard to reach that capability.
The Undersecretariat for Defense Industries' latest white paper for the Turkish defense industry, the 2009 to 2016 Strategy Document released last year counted seven private shipyards that could potentially reach the corvette or frigate production level. They include RMK Marine, Dearsan, Istanbul Denizcilik, ADIK, Celik Tekne, Desan and Sedef, which are all based in Istanbul.
The procurement official said that we are closely observing the performances of these shipyards and are planning to choose four among them for future work in the corvette or frigate category. For the major surface warship programs, the Turkish side is planning to manufacture the ship and most of its systems and to do the systems integration. It will purchase the engine, some of the weapons systems and other critical high-technology components from foreign suppliers.