Ümit Enginsoy ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Two top Turkish shipyards, RMK Makina and Dearsan, are in the running to build the last five corvettes for Turkey’s multibillion Milgem program for $1.5 billion
The Defense Industry Executive Committee is expected to meet early next month to choose between two top Turkish shipyards, RMK Makina and Dearsan A.S., to build the last six corvettes in the multibillion dollar program to build eight new corvettes, dubbed the Milgem, a senior procurement official said over the weekend.
Members of Turkey’s top decision-making body on defense procurement include Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and the committee’s secretary, Murad Bayar, the head of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries. The committee usually meets three times a year on major procurement programs.
The first and second ships under Turkey’s Milgem program have already been built by military shipyards, and the rest of the ships will be constructed by a private shipyard. The TCG Heybeliada, the first of the Milgem ships, has entered service in the Navy and the TSC Büyükada, the second, has been put to sea.
The private shipyard to be selected at the meeting, believed to be set for July 4 if no change is made to the schedule, is due to build the rest of the corvettes for nearly $1.5 billion.
The Milgem program is the first national project for Turkey to construct warships. Corvettes are the smallest warships, while the largest warships in the inventory of the Turkish Navy are frigates.
After the Milgem project is finished, Turkey is due to design, develop and construct its first national frigate, the TF2000 in the 2020s.
“The Milgem has been very useful from the point of design, development and construction of a national ship, and we are going to build on this experience to obtain the capability to build bigger warships,” the procurement official said.
The Milgem program will end at eight ships and later the TF2000 will be launched.
Turkey also will hold talks next week with Qatar on constructing a corvette for the Gulf country.
“We can produce 70 or 80 percent of all the needs in the Navy. The sole exception is submarines and engines, and we are moving with concrete steps on that,” the official said.
Turkey presently can also produce a New Type Patrol Boat, Coast Guard Research and Rescue Boat and Tank Landing Ships, the procurement official said.
Separately, a submarine deal worth 2 billion euros between SSM and Germany’s HDW shipyards for the joint manufacture of six modern U-214 diesel platforms for the Turkish Navy formally took effect in July 2010. “This will be the last submarine we will be building with someone else,” the procurement official said.
In a less orthodox project, Ankara has plans to a buy a landing platform dock, or LPD, a vessel that looks like a helicopter carrier and can transport up to a battalion-sized unit (more than 1,000 soldiers) long distances. Turkey plans to use this ship for NATO-related missions to carry troops or refugees.
According to the size and capabilities, the Turkish LPD will cost between $500 million and $1 billion.
Presently, the Turkish Navy has nearly 49,000 personnel and 75 aircraft, 17 frigates, seven corvettes, 14 submarines and 27 fast missile boats.