An Afternoon On TCG Burgazada

TCG Burgazada. The third Milgem class corvette.

TCG Burgazada. The third Milgem class corvette.

During the IDEF 2019 defense exhibition last week I had the privilege to visit TCG Burgazada.

TCG Burgazada is the third of the four Ada class corvettes. She was commissioned on 4th November 2018 and is the newest warship of the Turkish Navy.

Turkish Navy always considered the first two ships as prototypes. The lessons learned in constructing and using these ships were to be incorporated in the subsequent ships as there were under construction. Thus TCG Burgazada is slightly updated compared to TCG Heybeliada and TCG Büyükada, though these changes are subtle and mostly not visible from the outside at all.

One exception is the new Aselsan Seaeye-Ahtapot electro-optic sensor on the aft mast while the previous ships use Aselflir 300. Aselflir 300 was originally designed for airborne platforms and was installed without much modification. Thus the mean time between regular maintenance is quite short for a maritime system and the whole sensor must be taken down for the maintenance. These shortcomings are rectified in Seaeye-Ahtapot and the operators are quite happy with its performance. But Aselsan needs to come up with a better and catchier name.

The other changes are under the skin. The main machinery has 10.000 more horsepower making TCG Burgazada faster than the other Ada class ships.

TCG Burgazada has Aselsan made Hızır countermeasure system for torpedo attacks. She is the first ship to be fitted with this system. The system consists of two decoy launchers on both sides of the funnel and one towed array and decoy. Though the system is very similar to Ultra built torpedo countermeasure system used on the other ships I believe the logistics of a locally built system is preferred by the end user.

One could still get “the new ship smell” when walking through the passageways.

I wish fair winds and following seas to TCG Burgazada and her crew.

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TCG Anadolu Has Been Floated

TCG Anadolu, temporarily in her element. Photo: Ali Özkök

TCG Anadolu has been floated on 4th May 2019. It is important to note that it is a technical procedure and not the official launching of the ship.

TCG Anadolu is being constructed on a floating dock and the keel blocks under her hull need to be relocated. She will be taken back to the dock after the keel blogs have been relocated and the construction will continue.

The ship was floated 4 days after she suffered a fire. The fire broke out as some isolation material caught fire when welding was done nearby. Although there is no visible damage from the outside, the fire must have damaged the parts of the ship. Since the construction of the ship continues the repair of the damaged parts won’t be much difficult.

First Logistic Support Ship On Builders Trials

First, of the two logistic support ships, A-574 TCG Yüzbaşı Güngör Durmuş has started her shipyard trials. These two ships will be a welcomed addition to the existing fleet of tankers and replenishment ships of the Turkish Navy.

These ships do not have a rig for underway replenishment alongside but will be able to stream a fuel hose astern for a more old fashioned way.

TCG Yüzbaşı Güngör Durmuş is constructed by Selah Shipyard and should have been handed over to the Navy 18 months ago.

Korkut-D Air Defence System Remodeled

Left, a screen capture of TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa as she is transiting through Istanbul. Note there is no 100mm gun or the Korkut-D CIWS at the aft of the ship. Right, an archive photo of the Korkmaz on board of the ship from 2018.

Today TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa made a northbound passage through Istanbul. This ship was built for Germany Navy as FGS Donau, by Schlichting-Werft in Travemünde as a tender for fast attack boats. She was transferred to the Turkish Navy in 1995 to replace the old ship of the same name.

TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa was selected as a test platform for the Korkut-D close-in weapon system. In 2018 the 100mm gun turret at the aft of the ship on X position was replaced with a Korkut-D mount and a 3D radar mast. As the ship passed today the Korkut-D system was no longer on board meaning the test are officially over. It was interesting to note that the original gun mount was not replaced.

Left, the Korkut-D mount during the test on board of TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa. The fire control radar is on the mount while the 3D search radar is on a separate mast. Right, rendering of the remodeled Korkut-D mounts with and without the 3D radar.

It is quite easy to fit a weapon system to the ships which are on the design table. We will see Korkut-D on the future Turkish warships if the Turkish Navy is satisfied with the end product. But it is much more difficult to retrofit a new weapon system such as Korkut-D to existing ships. It should not penetrate decks, not worsen the stability of the ship and not add too much weight.

Aselsan, the manufacturer of the Korkut-D CIWS system seems to have remodeled the mount. During the tests, the original Korkut-D mount has only the fire control system mounted on the turret while the 3D search radar was on a separate mast. It was at the end of the turret and on the center as the guns were quite forward. On the remodeled turret, the fire control system is located to the left side of the turret and the guns seem to be moved a little to the back more towards the center of the turret. The new configuration will no doubt have shortened the overall length of the system making it easier to fit into smaller spaces and increased the possibility of changing the legacy close-in weapon system on older warships with Korkut-D.

TCG Ufuk Launched

The previously unnamed test and evaluation ship has now a name and a pennant number: A-591 TCG Ufuk.

The ship, the first one in Turkish Navy to bear that name, was launched on 9th February 2019.

TCG Ufuk shows a striking resemblance to Ada class corvettes. Even some main physical attributes like the length, width, drought of the ships are the same. Here is a comparison chart:

TCG Ufuk Ada Class
Length (meters) 99,5 99,5
Width (meters) 14,4 14,4
Draft (meters) 3,6 3,9
Displacement (tons) 2400 2300
Speed (knots) 18+ 29

Two most obvious differences between this ship and the Ada class corvettes are that that TCG Ufuk doesn’t have any weapons.  The test and evaluation ship does have a flight deck to support 10-tonne class helicopters but does not have a hangar.

According to news reports, TCG Ufuk will have an all diesel main propulsion whereas the Ada class ships have a combined gas turbine and diesel engines as main propulsion. The top speed is given as 18+ knots, which is considerably slower than 29 knots top speed of Ada class corvettes.

During the launching ceremony, the President of Turkey Mr. Erdoğan told that this ship was the first intelligence gathering ship built by national means and mentioned the importance of signal intelligence.

The intelligence gathering mission of this ship may explain why the ship will have a 100 tons more displacement compared to Ada class corvettes despite having no weapons and the sensors associated with fire control and why its construction was not published much compared to other defense industry projects.

The commissioning of TCG Ufuk is scheduled for July 2020.

Test And Evaluation Ship Takes Shape

A CGI image of the Test and Evaluation Ship showing her general configuration. The lack of weapons, the enclosure of the section between the funnel and the mast are particularly striking features.

 

The project was first made public in a presentation made by Undersecreteriat for Defence Industries, (SSM) during the 7th Naval Systems Seminar in 2017. SSM simply told that they have signed a contract for a Test and Evaluation Ship.

More information was released in a presentation made by the engineering company STM during the same event. According to STM, they are the main contractor of a project, where one Test and Evaluation Ship (TaES) will be constructed by Istanbul Denizcilik Shipyard. The ship will have hull form of Ada class corvettes. Aselsan, as a subcontractor is responsible for the manufacturing of the mission systems to be used on board.

STM also shared the above photo. The ship showed there has a striking resemblance to Ada class corvettes. Two most obvious differences between this ship and the Ada class corvettes are this ship doesn’t have a gun in A position and any other weapons. The space between the mast and the funnel, where 8 Harpoon missiles are installed in Ada class ships doesn’t exist in the TaES. The aft of the superstructure is also slightly different. The superstructure aft of the funnel is larger since the TaES doesn’t have the STAMP remote-controlled gun system and anti-torpedo countermeasures system, the deck on which these systems are installed is added to the hull.

According to news reports, the TaEs will have an all diesel main propulsion whereas the Ada class ships have a combined gas turbine and diesel engines as main propulsion. The top speed of the TaES will be lower than Ada class corvettes.

Since TaES shares the same hull and superstructure of the Ada class corvettes, I believe the physical measurements of the TaES will be same or very similar of Ada class ships.

On the left are the mast and forward superstructure of the first Ada class corvette TCG Heybeliada. On the right are the mast and the forward structure of the Test and Evaluation Ship. Although the shape is similar, the number of supports on the mast of the TaES is much more compared to TCG Heybeliada. Obviously, more sensors will installed on TaES.

The stern view of the TaES and TCG Heybeliada. The TaES does have a flight deck and a hangar. But the shape of the superstructure at the aft is different.

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.

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.

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.

Turkish Navy Has Started To Hunt Mines With Autonomous Unmanned Vehicles


Turkish Navy has entered the age of autonomous unmanned vehicles (AUV). This transition happened without much fanfare or publicity.

The above photo was published on Turkish General Staff website and shows the deck of the Aydın class minehunter TCG Anamur during the ITALIAN MINEX-18 held in Italy between 21 and 29 May.

The orange and yellow gadgets on the back of the deck are practice mines used during the exercise. The large yellow device partially visible on the left is a French-made PAP-104 underwater unmanned vehicle used for exploration, identification and sometimes for the destruction of mines. That system is remotely controlled and is not fully autonomous. This is the standard ROV of all Turkish minehunters.

The yellow torpedo-like object, in the middle, is of much interest. It is a Gavia autonomous underwater vehicle made by Teledyne Gavia.

According to the information provided by the company, GAVIA (AUV) is a self-contained, low logistics, modular survey platform capable of delivering high-quality data while operating from vessels of opportunity or from the shore.

The system is field proven for applications that include MCM, SAR, and ASW training. The field-changeable and easily transportable modules make it well suited for rapid response to emerging requirements.

At least two 1000m rated systems were delivered in 2016. One is named Uluç Bora and the other Barbaros Dora. In one press release, the company states the end user as Turkish Air Force and the AUV’s will provide TAF with highly effective deep water, rapid response capability. I sincerely believe that the there is a mistake. Usually, all underwater operations are the responsibility of Turkish Navy. And currently, these AUV’s are operated by the Turkish Navy Mine Countermeasures (MCM) command in Erdek.

The most striking specialty of this UAV is its modularity. The vehicle can be configured even on the field by adding modules or taking them out according to the mission requirements. The length and the weight of the AUV’s vary according to the modules it has.

Though it is not confirmed I believe each Turkish GAVIA has in addition to the nose, battery and propulsion modules one DVL-aided INS module, one side scan/bathymetry sonar module, one multibeam profiling module.

Among other naval operators of GAVIA AUV are Poland and Russia.

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