ÇAFRAD Successfully Completes First Live Fire Test

The test bed for the ÇAFRAD prototype, TCG Göksu sailing through Bosphorus.

The large structure on the flight deck houses the illumination radar, multifunctional radar, and the IFF interrogator. The arrays of the radars are looking to the starboard side of the ship. Power generators and HVAC systems are also mounted on the flight deck.

 

On 13th December 2018, it was announced that a RIM-162 ESSM missile fired from the frigate TCG Göksu hit a target drone. The live shooting exercise was important as the target was tracked and illuminated by Turkish made radar system.

In November 2018 Turkish Navy started to field testing an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar prototype manufactured by Aselsan. The prototype was installed on the flight deck of the Gabya –O.H. Perry-class frigate TCG Göksu.

The technology demonstrator prototype installed on board of TCG Göksu has only one set of multifunctional phased array radar and illumination radar. The arrays of the radars are looking to the starboard side of the ship. Power generators and HVAC systems are also mounted on the flight deck.

The ASEA radar project named ÇAFRAD (Turkish abbreviation of Multi-Functional Phased Array Radar) was first made public in 2012. The contract for the Phase I, was signed in August 2013 between Aselsan and –the then- Undersecretriat of Defence Industries. The contract value is 200 Million Turkish Liras.

Phase I covers the design, development, manufacture, and testing of the ÇAFRAD prototype, to be composed of an X-band multifunctional phased array radar, an X-Band illumination radar and an IFF system with nonrotating AESA antenna.

Phase II covers the design and development of a long-range active phased array radar and the development of multi-face antenna versions of multifunctional radar and illumination radar.

The multifunction active phased array radar will have a range of around 150km and it will be used for, horizon searches, air, and surface target detection, tracking and classification, small, low altitude and high-velocity air target detection and tracking.

The long-range active phased array radar will be used for, long range volume searches, air and surface target detection and tracking. When finished it will have a range of 450km.

The active phased array illuminator will be used for semi-active missile guidance.

The factory acceptance tests for the prototype were scheduled for 2017 and the testing on board of a warship was planned for the first half of 2018. Now with the FATs finished field testing has stated. When the tests on board TCG Göksu are completed SSB will start the Phase II. The deliveries of complete systems are planned for 2023.

When finished, the ÇAFRAD system is intended to be installed as the main sensor and fire control system on board of the TF-2000 air defense warships.

The Kerch Incident

Russia seized three Ukrainian naval vessels on 25th November 2018 Sunday and escalated the feud between two countries to the next level.

The Ukrainian trio – Gurza-M class gunboats P-175 Berdyansk, P-176 Nikopol and the tug A-947 Yana Kapu – set sail from Odessa and was destined to Berdyansk by the Azov Sea.

The Azov Sea is a large and shallow part of the Black Sea shared by Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Access from the Black Sea is through the Kerch Strait.

In 2003 the –then friendly – Russian Federation and Ukraine signed a treaty cooperation in the use of the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait. According to this treaty merchant ships and warships, as well as other state ships flying the flag of the Russian Federation or Ukraine, operated for non-commercial purposes, enjoy the freedom of navigation in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.

Before the occupation of Crimea, the Kerch Strait was separating Ukraine from Russia. Now both side of the strait is controlled by the Russian Federation. And this control enables Russia to decide who can pass through the Strait and who cannot. In the last couple of months, the Russian Federation has started to delay merchant ships in the Azov Sea, by detaining and inspecting them if their destination is a Ukrainian port. These legal but abusive inspections delay the ships at least 2 or 3 days.  European Parliament stated that Russia detained at least 120 vessels that flown the EU flag since April and not allowed them to proceed to Ukrainian ports. These arbitrary and unnecessary long inspections hurt the Ukrainian economy very much.

In the recent months, Russia has moved naval units from its Caspian and the Black Sea Fleets to the Azov Sea. As a counter move, Ukraine decided to reinforce its naval assets in the region. In early September Ukraine deployed two Gurza-M class gunboats. But instead sailing through the Kerch Strait they were moved on a truck by road. Thus Russia was not in a position to prevent this movement. Furthermore, Ukraine sends on 24th September the Amur class warships, A-500 Donbas and the tug A-830 Korets again through the Kerch Strait. During that deployment, the tug was towing the other ship.

However this time Ukraine decided to send the gunboats by sea instead of by land. This was not a decision out of nautical necessities.

The Russians tried to stop the Ukrainian ships. A video made from the bridge of Russian Sorum class Coast Guard vessel Don shows how the ship shouldered the Ukrainian tug Yana Kapu. The video does not show however how Don collided with the other Russian Coast Guard vessel Izumrud and created a hole on her superstructure.

Izumrud later opened fire with her AK-630 multi-barreled 30mm gun to the gunboat Berdyansk. The photos circulation on social media clearly shows the bullet hole on this boat. Later Russian special forces boarded the vessels and seized them.

In the aftermath of the incident, Russians flew the Ukrainians to Moscow. But before that, some of the Ukrainian sailors had to appear in front of the TV cameras to be forced to read some kind of made up confessions.

Ukraine pleaded help from the West and asked NATO to send warships to the Sea of Azov. People with enough geographical knowledge quickly realized that Azov Sea was too shallow to accommodate any NATO warship big enough to make a statement and armed enough to protect herself properly. Such a warship would not be able to pass under the Kerch Bridge that has only 33 meters clearance.

Ukraine also demanded Turkey to close Turkish Straits to Russian warships. Ihor Voronchenko, Commander of the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, at the II International Conference on Maritime Security in Kiev, said that Ukraine intends to appeal to the international community to strengthen sanctions against Russia in connection with its aggressive actions in the Sea of Azov and to close the Bosporus Strait for vessels of the Russian Federation according to the 19th paragraph of the Convention of Montreux.

According to Article 19 of Montreux Convention, in time of war, Turkey not being belligerent, warships shall enjoy complete freedom of transit and navigation through the Straits under the same conditions as those laid down in Article 10 to 18. Vessels of war belonging to belligerent Powers shall not, however, pass through the Straits except in cases arising out of the application of Article 25 of the present Convention, and in cases of assistance rendered to a State victim of aggression in virtue of a treaty of mutual assistance binding-Turkey, concluded within the framework of the Covenant of the League of Nations, and registered and published in accordance with the provisions of Article 18 of the Covenant…

The obvious problem here is, that there is no openly declared war between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.  And neither of these two nations is going to change the status quo, by declaring one. Turkey will not close the Straits and will keep them open for any nation. Turkey also will try to lessen the tensions in the Black Sea through indirect mediation.

By sending the gunboats and the tug, Ukraine challenged the Russian position, that the Kerch Strait was a Russian inner waterway, and showed that it hasn’t recognized, the unilateral Russian change to the 2003 agreement. Ukraine has also managed to bring the problems it faces in the Azov Sea to the worldwide public attention. But has lost a third of her Gurza-M class gunboats which are much needed to strengthen the Ukrainian Navy

On the other hand, Russia revealed that it prefers to confront Ukrainian armed forces without proxies rather than putting its assumed ownership on the Kerch Strait and demonstrated that it was ready physically block the Strait at all costs.

Turkish Anti-Ship Missiles Contract Signed

A test firing of Atmaca missile. Date unknown.

On 2nd November 2018, The Presidency of Defence Industries –former Undersecreteriat of Defence Industries- the main defense acquisition agency of Turkey announced that a contract for the serial production of Atmaca (Hawk) anti-ship missile was signed.

The contract was signed between PDI and Roketsan the leading company in the country for designing, developing and manufacturing rockets and missiles, as the main contractor. Aselsan the main defense electronics company is acting as sub-contractor and providing the RF seeker head and guidance section.

Since its start, the Atmaca Project has always been shrouded by thick layers of secrecy. And this habit continues still. Neither the value of the contract nor the number of missiles to be procured was revealed. The scheduled commissioning date of the missiles was also not made public. The press release about however mentioned that the first missiles are to be installed on board of the TCG İstanbul. TCG İstanbul is a İ class frigate currently under construction in Istanbul Naval Shipyard.

Turkish Navy EOD Team Destroys An Old Mine

The deadly catch. Photo: Balıkesir Haber Ajansı

This week a fishing boat operating off the coast of Ayvalık, Balıkesir found a mine in its net.

They have informed the Coast Guard and the harbor master. The old and probably inert mine was brought to the shore on board. A Turkish Navy EOD team was called by the Coast Gaurd. The EOD team brought the mine to an inhabited area and destroyed it by detonation.

The mine is believed to be from 1. World War era. Every year fishermen return with such deadly catch and provide the EOD teams always an opportunity for action.

Turkish Navy Conducted The Second SINKEX In 2018

The Turkish Navy conducted another sinking exercise SINKEX last week on 17th October. This is the second SINKEX Turkish Navy has conducted in 2018 and the third, in the last 12 months.

This exercise was not previously announced. But it was anticipated since the decommissioned navy tanker ex- TCG Taşkızak was observed being towed to the Black Sea on 16th October 2018. The previous sinking exercises were also conducted in the Black Sea. The tanker sunk in 5 minutes 36 seconds after the impact of the torpedo.

This yet unidentified Ay class submarine seen here sailing southbound through
Istanbul on 19th October 2018 was most probably the submarine that fired the torpedo that sunk the ex- TCG Taşkızak during the SINEX.

 

The short video of the exercise, shows an unguided torpedo being fired from an Ay class submarine. The torpedo seems shorter than contemporary modern torpedos and does not have a guidance wire. Therefore I believe it was an Mk-37 torpedo.

 

TCG Edincik Gets A New Mine Hunting Sonar

The legacy DUBM 20B sonar system on board of TCG Edincik, here off Istanbul in 2017, was replaced by indigenously developed MATESS system.

It was revealed during the industry day of the Nusret 2018 mine warfare exercise, that the Turkish minehunter TCG Edincik was fitted with the mine detection sonar of Aselsan.

Aselsan started to development of MATESS, mine detection sonar as a private project without a firm order from Turkish Navy. When the system was evolved to certain maturity, it was installed on board of Edincik class minehunter TCG Edincik.

The minehunter started her life as FS Calliope in 1971 in French Navy. In 1999 she and her 4 sisters were bought by the Turkish Navy. She was renamed as TCG Edincik and transferred in 1998. In her original configuration, she was fitted with DUBM 20B minehunting sonar.

According to Aselsan MATESS is a mine detection and object avoidance sonar, providing automatic detection, localization and classification capability for underwater objects, supporting ships navigation safety at high reliability.

The system is made up from the transducer array, transmitter and receiver, signal processing and user interface units.

Aselsan expects the testing of the sonar system on TCG Edincik will end in late December and in early 2019 the system will officially be inaugurated to Turkish Navy. Her attendance to the Nusret mine warfare exercise should be regarded as a part of the testing and evaluation process of the MATESS by Turkish Navy.

Nusret 2018 Mine Warfare Exercise

The Bulgarian mine hunter BNG Tsibar, seen here passing southbound through Istanbul on 10th October 2018 takes part in Nusret 2018 MCM exercise.

The Romanian hydrographic research vessel Cătuneanu is participating to the Nusret 2018 exercise too. Here is she seen passing through Istanbul on 13th October.

Mine warfare exercise Nusret 2018 has started in İzmir today. The exercise led by the Turkish Navy aims to provide training for the planning and execution of mine warfare and to improve the interoperability in mine warfare, between warships from participant countries.

The exercise is named after the famous minelayer Nusret. In even years the exercise is held in İzmir Bay and in odd years it is held in Çanakkale and Saros Bay.

This year 18 surface units including 4 Aydın class minehunters, 3 Edincik class minehunters, one minelayer, one corvette and one patrol boat from Turkish Navy, Standing Nato Mine Warfare Group 2 (SNMCMG-2) and Romanian hydrographic research ship are participating in the exercise. A detailed list of the participating units is at the bottom of this post.

One Turkish and one Romanian autonomous underwater vehicles teams and one Greek and one Romanian underwater explosive ordnance disposal units are also taking part in Nusret 2018.

The exercise has 3 phases. The first phase is the assembly of the participating units in the Port of İzmir. Followed by mine laying operation from one Turkish C-130 cargo plane and L-402 TCG Bayraktar. This phase is followed by active mine hunting warfare operations. The last phase will be a Photex of the participants and social and cultural activates among the crews to foster cooperation and mutual understanding.

Number Name Type Country
32 BGS Tsibar Minehunter Bulgaria
M-645 FS Orion Minehunter France
A-513 FGS Rhein Auxillary Germany
M-62 HS Evropi Minehunter Greece
5555 ITS Termoli Minehunter Italy
ROS Catuneanu Hydrographic Vessel Romania
M-34 ESPS Turia Minehunter Spain
F-512 TCG Büyükada Corvette Turkey
L-401 TCG Bayraktar Minelayer / LST Turkey
M-264 TCG Erdemli Minehunter Turkey
M-20X TCG Edincik Minehunter Turkey
M-262 TCG Enez Minehunter Turkey
M-263 TCG Erdek Minehunter Turkey
M-265 TCG Alanya Minehunter Turkey
M-266 TCG Amasra Minehunter Turkey
M-268 TCG Akçakoca Minehunter Turkey
M-270 TCG Akçay Minehunter Turkey
P-1206 TCG Karşıyaka Patrol boat Turkey

For further reading:
Nusret 2017
Nusret 2016
Nusret 2015
Nusret 2014
Nusret 2013
Nusret 2012
Nusret 2011
Nusret 2010

The Participants of Mavi Balina 2018 Naval Exercise

TCG Bandırma (left) and TCG Gemlik (right) receiving fuel underway from replenishment ship TCG Akar. Photo: Turkish Navy

Mavi Balina (Blue Whale) 2018 invitation naval exercise is going to end today with a post-exercise briefing in Aksanz Naval Base in Marmaris.

Mavi Balina is a biannual anti-submarine warfare exercise where the participating units had the opportunity to increase their readiness for actual submarine warfare operations.

Here is a list of the surface units took part in the exercise:

Number Name Type Country
F-245 TCG Oruçreis Frigate Turkey
F-490 TCG Gaziantep Frigate Turkey
F-491 TCG Giresun Frigate Turkey
F-492 TCG Gemlik Frigate Turkey
F-493 TCG Gelibolu Frigate Turkey
F-502 TCG Bandırma Corvette Turkey
F-512 TCG Büyükada Corvette Turkey
P-1204 TCG Tarsus Patrol Boat Turkey
A-580 TCG Akar Tanker Turkey
F-804 HNLMS De Ruyter Frigate Netherlands
F-105 ESPS Cristobal Colon Frigate Spain
F-253 PNS Saif Frigate Pakistan
F-211 ROS Regele Ferdinand Frigate Romania

Lest We Forget: DM-357 TCG Muavenet

On 2nd October 1992, 11 minutes past midnight, during the NATO’s Display Determination ’92 naval exercise, two Sea Sparrow surface to air missiles fired accidentally from the aircraft carrier CV-60 USS Saratoga, hit the bridge of the Turkish destroyer DM-357 TCG Muavenet. 5 sailors including the commander of the ship were killed instantly and 15 badly hurt. A fire broke out on board. At the time of the incident, two ships were 3 miles apart and were streaming north in the Aegean.

One of the missiles hit the ship approximately after a flight of ten seconds. The first missile hit the front of the ship’s bridge and destroyed it. The second missile exploded in the air probably because of the blast of the first missile and peppered the ship with shrapnel. Ships radar antenna, forward gun turrets, hedgehog launcher suffered from the shrapnel damage. The pieces of the second missile penetrated the forward gun turret, cabins of the supply officer and XO.

A fire started at the ammunition chamber of the Hedgehog system. The explosion of the Hedgehog rounds would have caused the loss of the ships. After the hits, general quarters were sounded and the firefighting teams started to tackle the fire. On the other hand, the damage control teams were throwing the ready ammunition in the forward gun turrets and other explosives near the fire over the board as a safety measure.

The fire was under control in 10 minutes but the water caused damage in the decks that were not harmed in the initial blast.

The extent of the damage resulting both from missile impact and fire is obvious. It was quite a skill to bring the fire under control before reaching to the gun turret in B position. If the fire has spread further to the turrets and ammunition chambers of the guns, then she would not have survived.

These two photos were taken after TGC Muavenet was towed to Gölcük Naval Base.

All the firefighting and damage control efforts were done in the absence of the commander of the ship. This fact speaks for the professionalism of the officers and the bravery of the whole crew.

They simply did not give up the ship.

Commander Kudret Güngör
Ensign Alertunga Akan
Petty Officer 3th Class Serkan Aktepe
Sergeant Mustafa Kılınç
Private Recep Akan

Paid the ultimate price for the defense of their country.

For further reading:
US Navy Court of Inquiry

Turkish Navy Court of Inquiry

Wikipedia

An interesting but technical legal article about why the USA did not pay indemnities to the Turkish sailors

Bosphorus Naval News

And one video documentary about the incident:

http://vimeo.com/58526103

_____

Mavi Balina 2018 Naval Exercise Starts Tomorrow

Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand seen here passing through Istanbul on 25th September 2018. She is going to take part in Mavi Balina Exercise.

Mavi Balina (Blue Whale) 2018 invitation naval exercise will be held between 28th September and 7th October in the eastern Mediterranean.  Turkish Navy will host ships, airplanes, helicopters, boarding teams and observers from, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Pakistan, Romania, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America. Furthermore Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) will take part in the exercise too.

Mavi Balina is a biannual anti-submarine warfare exercise. Participating units will have the opportunity to increase their readiness for actual operations and to increase their ability to perform joint operations.

Turkish Navy will participate with 4 frigates, 5 submarines, 2 corvettes, 1 replenishment ship, 1 patrol boat 3 maritime patrol planes, and 6 helicopters.  Airplanes from Turkish Airforce will also take part.

NATO Maritime Group Two will deploy the flagship The Dutch frigate HNLMS De Ruyter, the Spanish frigate ESPS Cristóbal Colón, the Greek frigate HS Elli and one yet undisclosed Turkish frigate.

Pakistan will join with the frigate PNS Saif and one maritime patrol plane. Romania will deploy the frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand and one helicopter. One maritime patrol plane from US Navy will take part in the exercise too.

Algeria, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Pakistan, Romania, Saudi Arabia NATO, and the United States will send 19 observers

18 visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) team members and 7 VBSS trainers from Azerbaijan are going to take part in Mavi Balina exercise. Their training will be evaluated by 3 men strong VBSS audit and evaluation team from NATO MARCOM.

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