29.11.2012 Ümit Enginsoy ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey has chosen an ambitious project to follow the building of eight corvettes: this time the production of four fair defense frigates worth around $4 billion dollars, the largest ships in the inventory of the country’s Navy.
A statement on the website of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) on Nov. 22 cited the need to procure air defense frigates for the Navy that would provide defense against the classical and modern munitions fired by aircraft and other platforms, command and control, early warning, reconnaissance, surface warfare, underwater warfare and electronic warfare and air defense warfare.
It said the feasibility studies of the frigates had been completed and a “project model” would now be devised for the frigates to be procured. The model is expected to be a manufacture model by a private naval shipyard, but the complexity of the frigate would probably need the contributions of a foreign company.
The TF2000 project, as the name implies, was designed before 2000, but was delayed due to financial limitations at the time. Procurement officials now say that especially after the completion of the Milgem project - the first naval project for the building of eight corvettes - the time is ripe for the design of the first Turkish frigate.
Corvettes are the smallest of warships, and Turkey, which does not have coasts on oceans, has plenty of corvettes and frigates, but no larger warships, like destroyers or cruisers.
When Turkey’s top decision-making body on arms procurement meets later this year it should select between the companies RMK and Dearsan to build the third through the eighth of the country’s multibillion dollar program to build eight new corvettes, believed to cost $1.5 billion.
“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,” one procurement official said.
The first and the 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 Buyukada, the second, has been put to sea.
“We can produce 70 or 80 percent of all the needs of the Navy. The sole exceptions are submarines and engines, and we are moving with concrete steps on that,” the procurement 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 2 billion-euro submarine deal between SSM and Germany’s HDW shipyards for 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 troops) long distances. Turkey plans to use this ship for NATO-related missions to carry troops or refugees.
According to its size and capabilities, the Turkish LPD will cost between $1 billion and $1.5 billion. Presently, the Turkish Navy has nearly 49,000 personnel and 75 aircraft, 17 frigates, seven corvettes, 14 submarines and 27 fast missile boats.