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Turkish Navy - Modernization

The main categories of Turkish fighting ships are destroyers, frigates, submarines, and fast-attack craft. Most of the older ships are of United States origin. More modern units have been supplied by Germany or constructed in Turkish shipyards with German technical assistance and components. In the 1990s the largest vessels are United States destroyers, most of them launched at the close of World War II. They were considered obsolete and incapable of operating with other NATO ships in battle-group formations. One of the destroyers, the Muavenet, was hit by two Sea Sparrow surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs) launched accidentally by a United States warship during exercises in 1992. The Turkish captain and four other personnel were killed and a number injured. The destroyer subsequently was scrapped. In 1993 and 1994, eight newer Knox-class frigates were transferred to Turkey by the United States.

The great amount of U.S. supplied equipment in the Turkish Navy made supply support and weapons procurement and upgrade for this equipment a big part of the NAD effort In supply support, by 1995 NAD managed 49 FMS cases worth $219 million and was able to respond to the supply needs of several World War II vintage ships and submarines still operating in the Turkish Navy. While much of the oversight of parts procurement and management was handled by the Turkish naval supply system, whose procedures closely followed the U.S. Navy system, initiatives by NAD to provide upgrades to this system, including an International Logistic CommunicationSystem (ILCS) installation at the Turkish Navy Supply Center, allowed NAD to reduce manning in this area without any adverse effect on service to the Turkish Navy.

In the area of weapons procurement and upgrade, in 1995 NAD managed 69 FMS cases worth $208.4 million for the delivery and upgrade of Harpoon anti-ship missiles, Seasparrow air defense missiles, and MK 46 torpedoes. The biggest of these programs, Harpoon missiles, encompassed 44 FMS cases totaling $146.6 million and included both weapons and systems installations on several classes of ships including MEKO frigates, AY class submarines, and fast patrol boats. Also included in these cases was training for both operators and maintenance personnel. Likewise, the Seasparrow and MK 46 programs were integral components of the Turkish Navy and have resulted in the delivery of 131 Seasparrow missiles and 78 MK 46 torpedoes.

Turkey made a big investment in improving its naval defences in the last decade, increasing the number of warships and military vessels and relying on homegrown technology. Turkey, a country between Europe and Asia, bordering three seas on its northern, western and southern flanks, has made a lot of efforts in recent years to advance its Navy to a level where it could compete with world powers. In recent years, Ankara has not only increased its number of vessels and warships, protecting its coasts and sailing in international waters, but also made self-sufficiency a priority to upgrade its naval force, relying on its own native sources to decrease dependency on outside powers.

“Although lawmakers have long nurtured a desire to make Turkey less dependent upon foreign weaponry and technology, [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s government has dramatically increased defence spending and has worked diligently to promote state cooperation with native defence contractors,” wrote Ryan Gingeras, a professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, and an expert on Turkish, Balkan, and Middle East history.

The Turkish Navy had 112 military vessels by 2020, but Ankara planned to add a total of 24 new ships, which include four frigates, before the Republic reaches the 100th anniversary of its founding in 2023.

Major Surface Combatants

The Turkish Navy underwent a renaissance in the 1990s, and the US Navy Directorate (NAD) of the Office of Defense Cooperation [ODC Turkey] played a major role in this modernization program. The construction of new frigates and submarines, and the acquisition of ex-Knox class frigates obtained through lease from the United States, virtually remade the Turkish Navy into a modern force, capable of extended operations in support of national and NATO missions, and in support of these vessels, Turkey often sought the quality, reliability, supportability, and advanced technology of U.S.systems through FMS cases managed by ODC Turkey. Later years saw continued modernization through new construction, leases of former U.S. ships, upgrades of existing ships, and continuing support for all systems, whether or not from U.S. sources.

The Turkish Navy commenced its modernization program in 1985 with the construction of MEKO 200 class frigates to complement ex-Carpenter and ex-Gearing class destroyers received from the United States. Although these frigates were co-produced with a German shipyard, they incorporated significant combat systems supplied through FMS channels from US contractors. These systems include the main gun, all missiles, communications and navigation systems, and major sensors. Commencing with frigates number four and five, the Turkish Navy added US manufactured LM2500 gas turbine engines; and FMS contracts were signed toinclude an improved vertical launched anti-air missile on frigates number seven and eight, which began construction in 1994. NAD provided comprehensive management and coordination withnaval systems commands and contractors in the U.S. for this frigate construction program, which alone comprised 46 FMS cases worth over $334 million.

In 1994 four MEKO-200 class frigates of German design were in the inventory, and an additional four modernized MEKO-200 frigates are to be delivered between 1995 and 1998. Construction is split, with the first four frigates having been built in Germany and four being built at the naval shipyard at Gölcük, with German equipment packages. The vessels are armed with five-inch guns, Harpoon SSMs, and Sea Sparrow SAMs.

In 1995 Turkey acquired four Knox class frigates from the US.

By May 1996 the first of three naval frigates from the US had arrived at a Turkish port. The frigates have been a source of contention between the US and Turkey, and only now had the Washington administration agreed to let Turkey have the three Perry class frigates to boost Turkey's naval strength. The first two frigates will come under Turkey-US common defence grant agreements, but the third will be delivered under a leasing arrangement. Turkey has already set aside 130 million dollars for the maintenance of the vessels. In 2002 it was reported that the United States would give six frigates to Turkey in order to aid the modernization of the Turkish Naval Forces. In addition to the six Knox frigates, the US also planned to sell to Turkey two types of Perry frigates. These frigates could be transferred to Turkey after the US Congress approves the deal.

The US National Defense Authorization Bill for FY2006 would authorize the President to sell three excess naval vessels to India, Greece and Turkey and to give away five excess naval vessels to Greece, Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey. Because these naval vessels displace in excess of 3,000 tons or are less than 20 years of age, section 7307(a) of title 10, United States Code, requires statutory approval for the transfers. The President was authorized to transfer vessels to foreign recipients on a grant basis under section 516 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 3 2321j), as amended, To the Government of Pakistan, the SPRUANCE class destroyer FLETCHER (DD-992), and to the Government of Turkey, the SPRUANCE class destroyer ship CUSHING (DD-985). The President was authorized to transfer vessels to foreign recipients on a sale basis under section 21 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2761), as amended, as follows: To the Government of Turkey, the SPRUANCE class destroyer ship O'BANNON (DD-987). U.S. Congress approved the sale of Spruance class destroyers to Turkey (Friday, 1 July 2005), with delivery in 2006 and 2007.

On April 4, 2008, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified the US Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Turkey of MK 41 Vertical Launch Systems as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options were exercised, could be as high as $227 million. The Government of Turkey requested a possible sale of six MK 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) Baseline VII tactical modules and two sets of MK 41 VLS upgrade kits to modernize two MEKO Track IIA frigates, four ex-Perry Class FFG Frigates and to upgrade two MEKO Track IIB MK-41 VLS from baseline IV to baseline VII configuration. Included with the MK 41 VLS were the ship's fire control system upgrades to allow for Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile capability, installation and testing, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, equipment operation and maintenance, personnel training and training equipment, support and test equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, launch system software development and maintenance and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost was $227 million.

The sale of Vertical Launch Systems to Turkey would contribute to U.S. security objectives by improving the Turkish Navy's ability to contribute to coalition and NATO operations and the Global War on Terrorism, and coalition operations such as United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and BLACKSEAFOR in the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean regions. The proven reliability and compatibility of like systems in association with numerous platforms will foster increased interoperability with U.S., NATO and coalition forces, and expand regional defenses to counter common threats to border and shipping assets in the region. The Turkish Navy can easily integrate this system capability into its concept of operations and would have no difficulty absorbing these systems into its armed forces.

In February 2009, the navy awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to upgrade four Perry-class and the first two Meko 200 IIA frigates. Requirements include installation of the Mk 41 vertical launching system (VLS), which will load Mk 25 quad-pack cells for Raytheon's ESSM antiair/antimissile system, replacing the Standard SM-1 (supported by Raytheon) on the Perry.


The submarine force consisted originally of United States World War II-era diesel-powered attack vessels of the Guppy class. Seven of these were still listed in 1994, but their utility was doubtful. Since 1975 Turkey has been acquiring German 20-class (type-1200) submarines, quiet-running craft smaller than the Guppies but suitable for defending the approaches to the straits as well as Turkey's coastal waters. The first three of the six vessels were built in Germany and the next three were built at Gölcük. Four additional 209-class submarines of the more advanced type-1400, armed with sub-Harpoon SSMs, are to be added between 1994 and 1998.

The sixteen missile-armed fast-attack craft in the Turkish fleet in 1994 were a mixture of older and newer technologies. The most up-to-date units were eight Dogan-class vessels equipped with Harpoon SSMs. They were built in Turkey along the lines of the German Lürssen 57. Two more fast-attack craft of the Yildiz class are to be delivered in 1995. These high-speed vessels would be especially effective against ships attempting to transit the confined waters in and around the Turkish straits.

Amphibious Forces

The marine contingent of some 3,000 officers and troops was organized as a brigade of three infantry battalions and one artillery battalion, plus support units. The amphibious force of sixty-six vessels in the inventory at the end of 1994 would be sufficient to land Turkish infantry and tanks in individual operations or in conjunction with other NATO assault forces. The inventory of twenty-nine minelayers and minesweepers would have the task of implementing a NATO decision to seal off the Black Sea. Turkish officers are considered to be highly qualified in such operations, but in the mid-1990s minesweepers and minelayers were due for modernization.

In 2006, the Commander of Turkish Naval Forces Admiral Yener Karahanoglu, laid down the long terms amphibious ship acquisition goals for Turkish Navy: One LPD; Two LST’s; 8 fast LCT’s; and 27 AAV/AAAVs. According to this road map in 2007, Ministry of Defence’s Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (UDI), submitted an RFP for 8 LCT’s. From the four companies that bid, ADIK shipyard was chosen. On June 2009, a contract was signed between UDI and ADIK for the production of 8 ships. The value of the contract was not made public, but was estimated to be around €100 million. The first ship Ç-151 was launched on 02 October 2010, and the second ship Ç-152 was launched on March 2011. For the LST’s UDI submitted a RFP on May 2008. On 06 January 2010 again the ADIK shipyard was declared the winner of the bid, and UDI entered into contract negations with this company. And a contract for the construction of two new LST’s was later signed between the Ministry of Defence and the same shipyard, with the ships to be delivered in 48 months.

In order to meet 2011 Turkish Naval Forces Command (TNFC) requirement, 27 units of Armored Amphibious Assault Vehicles in total consisting of 21 units of Amphibious Assault Personnel Vehicle, 3 units of Amphibious Assault Command Vehicle and 3 units of Amphibious Assault Recovery Vehicle will be procured. SSM aims to collect the necessary data and information regarding administrative, financial and technical issues for the vehicles to be procured.

Aviation Modenization

In 1994 the naval air arm included fourteen Italian-built Agusta-Bell AB-204 and AB-212 antisubmarine helicopters, which could be flown off frigate flight decks. United States-manufactured Grumman S-2E Tracker aircraft, flown by air force personnel and used for land-based antisubmarine and marine reconnaissance, were due to be replaced.

The Turkish Navy, with the help of NAD, made extensive use of the provisions of the Southern Region Amendment (SRA), which provided for the transfer of excess U.S. defense equipment free of charge, to further modernization goals. The SH-2F Sea Sprite helicopter transfers were accomplished through SRA.

The aim of the Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MELTEM) Project is to convert CN-235 aircrafts as Maritime Patrol (MPA) and Maritime Surveillance (MSA) aircrafts and to deliver the associated ground segments. The Project includes the development, integration and testing for 6 MPAs for the Turkish Navy and 3 MSAs for the Turkish Coast Guard. In addition, two Ground Control Sites for the MPA and three Ground Control Sites for the MSA are to be developed, integrated, installed and qualified. The Project began in 2003 with signing of a contract between the SSM (Undersecretariat for Defense Industries) and THALES Airborne Systems, the main contractor for the MELTEM Program. In the same year HAVELSAN signed an agreement with THALES as the main local subcontractor.

Ground Support System, which is one of the two main sub systems of this Project, has been developed by HAVELSAN. For the other main sub system; Airborne Platform, functional mission computer software are developed by HAVELSAN. HAVELSAN provides Tactical Command System (TCS), Tactical Command and Control Information System (TCCIS), Ground Control Station (training system included), System Integration Test Bench, Mission System Tools and Integrated Logistic Support. The Tactical Command and Control Information System (TCCIS) for ground segment software has been developed, integrated with hardware and delivered. TCCIS includes mission preparation, monitoring replay, briefing and debriefing functions.

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:04:52 ZULU