11 Mayıs 2010 Salı
Turkish defense agency seeks to bolster private shipyards
"We expect to see our shipyards develop capabilities to take part in our major surface warship programs," said a senior procurement official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
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 eight corvettes worth around $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 Büyükada, is ongoing at Tuzla.
Milgem is designed as a precursor of the larger TF-2000 project, Turkey's first planned national frigate program. The Navy is planning to buy six frigates worth over $3 billion. The first ship will be manufactured at the Tuzla military shipyard.
"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," said one industry official. "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 2009-2016 Strategy Document - released last year - counted seven private shipyards that could potentially reach the corvette/frigate production level.
They include RMK Marine, Dearsan, Istanbul Denizcilik, ADIK, Çelik Tekne, Desan and Sedef, which are all based in Istanbul. "We are closely observing the performances of these shipyards and are planning to choose four among them for future work" in the corvette/frigate category, said the procurement official.
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.
Frigates and corvettes are smaller warships than cruisers and destroyers. As Turkey does not have coasts on oceans, its naval defense strategy is based on the principle of having frigates as its largest warships.
"Currently, there is rivalry among private shipyards, but in the medium term, as some of them develop specific capabilities, we may see consolidation in the sector," said the industry official.
Together with the TF-2000 and the Milgem, Turkey's largest naval program is jointly manufacturing with Germany at least four modern submarines. For the U-219 type submarines, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, or SSM, last summer signed a 2 billion-euro ($2.8 billion) contract with HDW Shipyards.
The submarines mostly will be built at the Navy's Gölcük Shipyard, near Istanbul, and will be equipped with mainly German-made weapons and other systems. In the past Gölcük had been Turkey's largest military shipyard, but part of it was destroyed in a devastating earthquake in August 1999.
"Still, Gölcük is Turkey's only shipyard with submarine capabilities and will remain so," said the industry official.
The Turkish Navy's other modernization programs over the next 10 years include the planned purchase of a landing dock, minehunters, assault boats, amphibious vessels, naval warfare helicopters and other ships.
Traditionally, the Turkish Navy's largest supplier has been Germany. All Turkish submarines are German-built. The present frigate fleet is made up of U.S. and German ships. The Navy's most modern naval warfare helicopters are the U.S.-made S-70B Seahawks.
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SSM Müsteşarı Sayın Murat Bayar:
Milgem projesi kapsamında ikinci gemi inşasının da başladığını ve üçüncü ve daha sonraki gemilerin Türk Özel Sektör Tersanelerinde inşasına yönelik ihale sürecinin başlatılacağına dikkat çeken BAYAR...