Dissecting Jpost Op-ed “Turkey vulnerable to rising Russian power in the Black Sea”


A ESSM missile being fired from a Mk-41 launcher on board of a Turkish frigate. But Mr. Tanchum tells us that these missiles will get into Turkish inventory in 2016. May be these are not the ESSM missiles Mr. Tanchum is looking for.

Yesterday, The Jerusalem Post published an op-ed by Micha’el Tanchum, which was first published in the Turkey Analyst.  This this op-ed Mr. Tanchum explains that:

With the annexation of Crimea, Turkey faces a stronger and bolder Russian naval power in the Black Sea. A resurgent Russia may be tempted to exploit its temporary naval dominance to alter current Black Sea energy exploitation and transportation arrangements more in its favor and to the detriment of Turkey and its partners in the Caucasus.

While there a some aspects in this op-ed where I whole hearty agree there also some obvious and large material mistakes that raises questions about the credibility of the writer and his reason the write such a text.

Let’s start:

After gaining experience from the building of the slightly larger but more lethal TF 100 anti-air warfare frigates, Turkey then intends to build a series of TF 2000 frigates. Double the size of the TF 100, the TF 2000 anti-air warfare frigate will significantly advance the Turkish fleet’s transformation into a blue-water navy.

This is not correct. TF-2000 air defense ship project will supersede TF-100 project. TF-100 project is scheduled to start around 2020 to replace the MEKO 200 Track I frigates. On the other hand TF-2000 will be a major ship program and will form the mainstay of Turkish Navy with long range air defense sensors and weapons. TF-2000 is in early design phase and TF-100 does not exists even on blue-paper. Therefore it is not possible to say that one class of ships will be the double of the other as there is no data to compare at all. But I agree that TF-2000 will advance Turkish Navy into a blue-water navy.

The TF 100 frigates will be the first Turkish vessels to carry the American-manufactured RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) system capable of countering the current generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles.

It is absolutely and utterly false that TF-100 frigates are going to be the first ESSM capable ships in Turkish Navy. As you can see from the photo above Turkish Navy has today ESSM capable ships in operation. As the regular readers of this blog and people who really follow the developments in Turkish Navy know, Turkish Navy has installed Mk-41 vertical launcher systems in 4 of its 8 Gabya (ex Perry) class frigates. And the main 2D search radars of these 4 ships with Mk-41 are being replaced by 3D radars. The main reason for the installation of the Mk-41 is to use the ESSM missile which is incompatible with the Mk-13 launcher on these ships.In addition to 4 Gabya class frigates 2 MEKO 200 Track IIB class frigates have Mk-41 launchers. This 2 ships are also capable to use ESSM missiles. And this capability will be retrofitted to the 2 MEKO 200 Track IIA frigates when their Mk-29 launcher will be replaced by Mk-41 VLS.

 Turkey’s strategic vulnerability was not anticipated because of the view in Turkish policy circles that Turkey enjoys a relative parity with Russia in the Black Sea. However, the approximate parity exists only when Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is matched against all the major assets of the Turkish navy. Prior to the Crimean conflict, Russia’s Black Sea fleet consisted of 24 major surface combatants and one diesel submarine while Turkey’s major naval assets consist of approximately 24 surface combatants and 14 submarines. The parity is illusory as it is unlikely that Turkey would be able to deploy all or most of its naval assets in a Black Sea conflict.

I have always found making a comparison between Turkish and Russian Naval Forces very difficult as Russia has 3 other Fleets and it is not clear whether Turkey can mobilise all its major naval units to the Black Sea.
But I have difficulty to calculating Mr. Tanchum’s math on units numbers. The Turkish side is simple: 8 Gabya frigates + 8 MEKO 200 frigates + 6 Burak corvettes + 2 Ada corvettes and came up to 24 major surface units. On Russian side the math is not so simple. I have tired to remake Mr. Tanchum’s calculation based on Jane’s Fighting Ship reference book: 1 Slava cruiser + 1 Kara cruiser + 1 Kashin destroyer + 2 Krivak frigate + 6 Grisha frigate + 2 Sivuch corvettes + 5 Tarantul corvettes + 2 Nanuchka corvette makes 20 major surface units.
I have no idea where the other 4 units mentions in the op-ed were added to the Russian side. On the other hand if one is adding Tarantul and Nanuchka class ships to a comparison on Russian side then one has to add Yıldız and Karayel class fast attack craft on Turkish side. As in terms of displacement, on board weapons and sensors there is not much difference between Tarantul and Nanuchka class corvettes and Yıldız and Karayel class fast attack craft. Therefore I am thinking that Mr. Tanchum’s numbers are either biased or he has chosen his sample units poorly, which makes the above quoted comparison dubious.

With the annexation of Crimea, Turkey faces a stronger and bolder Russian naval power in the Black Sea. Russia now possesses the Ukrainian navy’s submarine and several, if not most, of Ukraine’s 11 major surface combatants. Even without the Ukraine’s naval assets, Russia’s own new additions to its Black Sea Fleet will enable Moscow to dominate the region. Russia recently put to sea the first of its six Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates. All six frigates are designated for service in the Black Sea Fleet.

It is true that the annexed Ukrainian naval assets increased the roster of the Russian Black Sea Unit. But this is only on paper. In reality most of the Ukrainian units taken by Russians are unfit for service and pose no thread to anyone. There are some reports that Russia has started to return some of the Ukrainian naval units back to Ukraine as they are not fit for service in Russian Navy. The Ukrainian submarine Zaporizhzhya sized by Russian forces was declared unfit for service but is still in Russian hands. Thus until newly build naval units start to arrive in the Black Sea the enlargement of Russian Black Sea units through the influx of Ukrainian naval units is not realistic thread.

Russia’s own new additions to its Black Sea Fleet will enable Moscow to dominate the region. Russia recently put to sea the first of its six Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates. All six frigates are designated for service in the Black Sea Fleet.

It’s true that Russia wants to improve its Black Sea Fleet with new frigates and submarines. But it is wrong to assume that these ships are going to be an addition the current warships. On the contrary these new constructed warships will replace existing old warships which reached the end of their usefulness. Therefore these new warships will not increase the number of Russian warships in the Black Sea 1:1.

Within the same 2016 timeframe, Russia will also add six newly improved Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines to its Black Sea Fleet ahead of Turkey’s deployment of an equivalent number of Ada-class anti-submarine corvettes. These two Russian procurement programs alone will quickly tilt the balance of naval forces in Russia’s favor, giving Russia a significant strategic advantage for a window of four to eight years depending on the pace of Turkey’s resumed production schedule

The above quoted paragraph shows that making naval analysis is not Mr. Tanchum’s strong suit. He is fundamentally wrong in his assumption that the main Turkish adversary of the Russian Kilo class submarines will be the Ada class corvettes. One does not fight airplanes with SAM missiles. One does not fight enemy tanks with ATGMs. The main weapons Turkey will use against the Kilo class submarines that will start to enter into service in (at least) 3 years time will be the submarines Turkey possess.   And with 14 submarines in service Turkey has the strongest diesel-electric submarine force in NATO. These submarines are a huge force multiplier and one of our countries most important silent and deadly weapons. Six of the 14 submarines in Turkish inventory are nearing their useful life and they will be replaced by AIP Type 214 submarines. Even if Russian Black Sea Fleet enjoys an advantage in numbers for a time the air independent submarines will have the upper hand against the Russian submarines as they will not be AIP equipped.

It’s noteworthy that the new submarine construction programme of Turkey was never mentioned in this text.

Until Ankara can rectify the gap in naval capabilities created by MILGEM’s delays, Turkey will not be able to defend its national interests adequately as Russia attempts to reestablish its sphere of influence in the greater Black Sea region

During the Cold War the Black Sea was divided between NATO nation Turkey and 3 Warsaw Pact nations Bulgaria, Romania and USSR.  How we have 3 NATO nations Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania. Plus Ukraine, Russia and Georgia. With the annexation of Crime by Russia the status quo in the Black Sea which was created at the end of the Cold War has changed. But this change is not unmanageable for Ankara as long as we have a long term political goal and will toreach it.

It is beyond any doubt that the cancellation of Milgem construction tender given to RMK Marine shipyard has created a havoc among the Turkish naval armament projects. But believing this delay will hamper Turkey’s ability to defends its national interest is wish full thinking.


FS Var In Marmaris

A-608 FS Var in Marmaris. Photo: yeniasir.com

A-608 FS Var in Marmaris. Photo: yeniasir.com

French Durance class underway replenishment tanker A-608 FS Var arrived in Marmaris in the morning hours on 5 April 2014.

Although it was not disclosed how long the ship will stay in Marmaris, it is safe to assume that the port visit will take at least 3 days. It was reported that FS Var is going back to France after completing her deployment for NATO’s Active Endeavor in Eastern Mediterranean.

Cassard In Marmaris


FS Cassard in exercise with USS George H.W. Bush.

The French frigate D-614 FS Cassard arrived in Marmaris for a port visit.

Before arriving in Marmaris, the French warship stationed in Eastern Mediterranean, conducted “PASSEX” exercise with the U.S. aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush.

Unlike her sister D-615 FS Jean Bart the main radar of FS Cassard has not been upgraded. She still has the original DRBJ 11B 3 D radar. This radar was replaced with a SMART-S Mk2 on FS Jean Bart.

Doğu Akdeniz 2013 Naval Exercise

Turkish Navy announced that the Doğu Akdeniz 2013 naval exercise will start on 4th November. The invitation only exercise will continue till 14 November 2013.

Besides ships, planes of Turkish Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force, SNMG-2 task force of NATO and one US Navy destroyer will also take part in the exercise which will be conducted in like its name implies in Eastern Mediterranean.

The purpose of the exercise is to develop mutual cooperation and to provide training opportunities to the participating forces on regional crisis intervention along a provided scenario.

5 naval helicopters, 1 maritime patrol plane, one underwater assault team and one naval WMD response team, planes from Turkish air force and NATO Maritime Security Center of Excellence will participate in the exercise along with the ships listed below:

Number Name Type Country
F-X TCG X Frigate Turkey
F-X TCG X Frigate Turkey
F-X TCG X Frigate Turkey
F-X TCG X Corvette Turkey
F-X TCG X Corvette Turkey
P-X TCG X Fast Attack Boat Turkey
P-X TCG X Fast Attack Boat Turkey
P-X TCG X Fast Attack Boat Turkey
P-X TCG X Fast Attack Boat Turkey
S-X TCG X Submarine Turkey
S-X TCG X Submarine Turkey
S-X TCG X Submarine Turkey
A-X TCG X Tanker Turkey
A-X TCG X Tanker Turkey
P-X TCG X Patrol Boat Turkey
P-X TCG X Patrol Boat Turkey
F-101 ESPS Alvaro De Bazan Frigate Spain
F-246 TCG Salihreis Frigate Turkey
F-219 FGS Sachsen Frigate Germany
DDG-55 USS Stout Destroyer USA

Any additions and corrections are most welcome.

Happy Anniversary For Turkish Republic


The Turkish Coast Guard vessel TCSG-312, silhouetted by the massive fireworks display on Bosphorus to night, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the foundation of Turkish Republic.

Republic Day 2013

F-495 TCG Gediz in Istanbul.

F-495 TCG Gediz in Istanbul. She is one of the most capable Perry class frigates afloat world wide with her Mk41 VLS containing ESSM missiles, Smart-S 3D radar, upgraded combat management software and rebuild CIC.

Tomorrow is the 90th anniversary of the foundation of Turkish Republic. Many different events are planed to celebrate our republic and one of them is to open Turkish warships to public. This year the Gölcük Naval Base, the main base of Turkish Navy will have an open door day and many ships will be accessible for the public. The following Turkish warships will be open to public:

Number Name Type City
S-358 TCG Çanakkale Submarine Gölcük
F-244 TCG Barbaros Frigate Gölcük
P-336 TCG Zıpkın Fast attack boat Gölcük
A-595 TCG Y. K. Güngör Replenishment Ship Gölcük
F-496 TCG Gökova Frigate İzmit
F-245 TCG Oruçreis Frigate İstanbul
F-495 TCG Gediz Frigate İstanbul
P-334 TCG Meltem Fast attack boat Karadeniz Ereğli
P-330 TCG Kılıç Fast attack boat Mersin
F-502 TCG Bandırma Corvette İzmir
P-348 TCG Yıldız Fast attack boat İskenderun
F-493 TCG Gelibolu Frigate Antalya
P-1203 TCG Kumkale Patrol boat Bozcaada
P-1205 TCG Karabiga Patrol boat Gökçeada


RFA Mounts Bay In Bodrum


L-3008 RFA Mounts Bay in Bodrum. Photo: milliyet.com

One of the participants of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group (RFTG) in Cougar 2013, RFA Mounts Bay arrived in Bodrum for a week long visit.

Click here for a video of the ship.

Victory Day 2013 (Part 2)

TCG Gediz with her new Smart Mk2 3D radar

TCG Gediz with her new Smart Mk2 3D radar

F243yildirim f244barbaros

This year F-243 TCG Yıldırım, F-244 TCG Barbaros and F-495 TCG Gediz were in Istanbul to commemorate the 91th anniversary of the victory in the Battle of Dumlupınar, the final battle in the Turkish War of Independence in 1922.

All the ships were open to the public and for me the highlight was the CIC of the TCG Gediz.



Turkish Coast Guard vessels TCSG-5 and TCSG-312 also took part in the celebrations.

I was also able to take the photo of another coast guard vessel. The pedestal at the end of the cabin is similar to the pedestal on P-141 TCG Yunus-1 and P-142 TCG Yunus-2 in Turkish Navy service. This pedestal is a clear indicator the Turkish Coast Guard will install remote-controlled machine gun platform STAMP on these vessels.

Victory Day 2013

We are grateful to those who paid the ultimate price for our independence and for our country.

This year we celebrate the 91th anniversary of the victory in the Battle of Dumlupınar, the final battle in the Turkish War of Independence in 1922.

The Battle of Dumlupınar was fought from 26 August to 30 August 1922, at the end of the battle the invading Greek Army was definitely and distinctively beaten and the almost all the invading foreign forces were repelled.

To commemorate the victory following Turkish warships will be open to public:

Number Name Type City
S-359 TCG Burakreis Submarine Giresun
F-242 TCG Fatih Frigate Samsun
P-333 TCG Tufan Fast attack boat Karadeniz Ereğlisi
F-244 TCG Barbaros Frigate İstanbul
F-243 TCG Yıldırım Frigate İstanbul
M-260 TCG Edincik Mine hunter Mürefte
P-1207 TCG Tekirdağ Patrol boat Tekirdağ
M-263 TCG Erdek Mine hunter Erdek
N-16 TCG Nusret Mine layer Erdek
F-500 TCG Bozcaada Corvette İzmir
NL-125 TCG Osman Gazi Landing ship İzmir
Ç-152 TCG Ç-152 Landing craft Dikili
P-1203 TCG Kumkale Patrol boat Çanakkale
P-1205 TCG Karabiga Patrol boat Karabiga
P-1208 TCG Kaş Patrol boat Kaş
P-1204 TCG Tarsus Patrol boat Mersin
M-515 TCG Saros Mine sweeper Mersin

Turkmenistan Makes Another Quiet Purchase Of Warships

The model of the fast attack boat Dearsan is building for Turkmenistan.

The model of the fast attack boat Dearsan is building for Turkmenistan.

Mr.  Joshua Kucera who has en extensive knowledge about Central Asia has written a post about the Turkmenistan naval rearmament. I am glad to say that I help him to write his post, originally published by EurasiaNet.org. He also allowed me to share his post as whole here:


June 6, 2013 – 4:26 pm, by Joshua Kucera

Turkmenistan is buying eight new well armed naval vessels from Turkey, marking a substantial increase in capability for the country’s nascent navy.

The ships will be built by Dearsan, the Turkish shipyard Which had already been contracted by Turkmenistan for two fast patrol boats. The eight new ships will be of the same size as the two previous ships, but better armed.Each will be equipped with four anti-ship missiles, two remote-controlled MANPADS-sized surface-to-air missile launchers, a 40 mm main gun, a six-barreled anti-submarine mortar, two remote-controlled 12.7 mm guns and two Remote-controlled 25 mm guns.

This is according to Cem Devrim Yaylali, who blogs at Bosphorus Naval News . Yaylali Dearsan spoke to a representative at the recent IDEF defense expo in Istanbul, and took a photo of the model that Dearsan was presenting. And he was generous enough to pass along the information and photo to The Bug Pit.

Turkmenistan had already been reported to be acquiring five missile boats from Russia, in addition to the two Dearsan fast patrol boats.
Dearsan I asked for confirmation and more information, but did not hear back. That is not surprising: they have been very quiet about their previous deals with Turkmenistan, no doubt at Ashgabat’s request.

The model as appears to have the same 40 mm main gun and the ASW mortar used in Tuzla class. The ASW mortar has been moved to B position to create space for surface to surface anti ship missiles. I was not told the type of the missiles but the launcher boxes of the model resemble very much to Otomat/Teseo. There are two remotely controlled SAM launchers one in the forecastle one in the aft. The missiles and launchers look like adaptation of some MANPADS surface to air system. In addition to these weapons there are two STAMP 12,7 mm remote-controlled machine gun turrets a top of the bridge and two 25 mm STOP remote-controlled gun turrets.


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