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.

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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.

NATO Naval Taskforces End Their Deployment To The Black Sea

The flagship of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two FGR Rhein, during her southbound transit through Istyanbul.

Turkish contribution to Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two, TCG Anamur making her southbound passage through Istanbul as the taskforce departs from the Black Sea. A new minehunter will replace her for the future deployment of SNMCMG-2.

On early July, flagships of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) HNLMS De Ruyter and FGS Rhein arrived in Bulgarian port Burgas for the Bulgarian led exercise Breeze 2018. Replenishment ship FS Marne of Marine Nationale and Greek fast attack craft HS Daniolos followed them. BREEZE 2018 from 13 to 20 July.

The exercise was designed to enhance the interoperability of the participating units and strengthen cooperation by practicing different warfare techniques in a multi-dimensional scenario. Multinational participating forces and their crews will be tested in a wide range of warfare tactics focusing on regional security.

Bulgaria as host took part with 16 combat and auxiliary ships and cutters, 2 helicopters and staff of 930 members. Two aircraft of the Bulgarian Air Force and units of the Land Forces were also involved in the exercise with most ships. Turkey was the second largest contributor to the exercise with TCG Fatih for SNMG-2 and minehunter TCG Anamur for SNMCMG-2, submarine TCG Gür, fast attack craft TCG İmbat and one patrol plane.

In total 25 combat and auxiliary ships and cutters, 1 submarine, 4 aircraft, 5 helicopters and 2,340 service members from the navies of Bulgaria, Belgium, Greece, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, the USA, Turkey, France, the Netherlands took part in the exercise, which was held from 13th to 20th July.

Following the conclusion of the exercise Sea Breeze Greek fast attack craft HS Daniolos and French replenishment tanker, FS Marne exited the region while the remaining ships of both NATO Standing Maritime Groups made a port visit in Odessa between 23rd and 25th July. During this port visit, the warships were warships were open to the public. According to the Turkish Navy, TCG Fatih and TCG Anamur have hosted 2413 visitors for 6 hours when they were open to the public.

After the port visit, all NATO warships conducted a passing exercise (PASSEX) with Ukrainian naval forces. The flagship of the Ukrainian Navy Hetman Sagaidachny and warships BerdyanskVyshgorod, Kremenchuk, Lubny, and Pochaiv also took part in this PASSEX.

Upon leaving Odessa, NATO naval task forces separated. While SNMCMG-2 sailed towards Constanta Romania to conduct mine warfare exercise with Romanian Navy, SNMG-2 sailed to Samsun Turkey.

On the first day of August 2018, both HNLMS De Ruyter and FGS Rhein departed from the Black Sea ending their deployment in the region.

TCG Burgazada Started Her Sea Trials

TCG Burgazada sets sail for her first cruise. Photo: SSM

Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) published photos from the first test cruise of TCG Burgazada on 20 March.
The photos show an unfinished ship sailing on the Marmara Sea. Though SSM did not disclose the exact date when the photos were taken it is assumed that they were taken on 19 March 2018.

The cruise conducted as part of the factory acceptance tests. The ship was launched on 18 June 2016 and is expected to be commissioned in September 2018


This photo also taken during the test cruise shows three interesting things:

  1. New Aselsan made HIZIR torpedo countermeasure system launcher is installed instead of Ultra SeaSentor system used in the first pair.
  2. The antennas of the Aselsan built ARES-2N ESM system is not mounted
  3. The back looking AselFLIR-300D has not been installed yet.

There is clearly a lot of work to do to finish the ship on time. I think the test on Monday was done to check the performance of the propulsion system, whether the engines were functioning properly, how did they react to the controls, whether the acceleration and deacceleration of the ship were within the limits.

I wish TCG Burgazada fair winds and following seas.

TCG Göksu Deployed To Gulf Of Aden As Turkish Parliament Extends The Presence Of The Navy

TCG Göksu is deployed in the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy operations.

On 24th February 2018, Frigate TCG Göksu left her home port for deployment in the Gulf of Aden. This is her second deployment in the region. Currently, she is with multinational anti-piracy task force CTF-151.

On 8th February 2018, The Grand National Assembly of Turkey, extended the presence of Turkish Navy in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, and adjacent seas for one more year.

The first bill allowing Turkish government to deploy Turkish Naval Forces for anti-piracy operations was accepted on 10 February 2009. It was extended in one year periods ever since.

Turkish warships are  tasked with:

  • Performing reconnaissance and patrol duties,
  • Calling on ships suspected of piracy/ armed robbery, on the radio, boarding them if their flag country approves and interfering by the international law if the ship is not showing any flag,
  • Escorting and protecting merchant ships,
  • Helping merchant ships under attack of pirates/sea robbers,
  • Intervening, stopping, neutralizing, and confiscating any vessels used by pirates/sea robbers, and using proper force if necessary,
  • Arresting and detaining pirates/sea robbers and armed persons in these vessels,
  • Accepting the representatives of the countries that will prosecute pirates/ armed robbers on board, for the preparations of judicial proceedings, according to the UN resolution 1851.
  • Arresting and detaining, pirates/armed robbers on board until they are being handed over to the countries that will prosecute them,
  • Turning in, the suspects of pirates/sea robbers except for the case that these are Turkish citizens, to the authorities the nation where the pirates/sea robbers will be prosecuted,
  • Executing all kinds of policing duties including interrogation, collecting evidence.

Apart from the two task force deployments in 2011 and 2014, since 2009 following Turkish frigates took part in anti-piracy operations in the region:

Number Name Start of Deployment End of Deployment
F-496 TCG Gökova 29.10.2008 6.12.2008
F-491 TCG Giresun 17.02.2009 17.06.2009
F-490 TCG Gaziantep 17.06.2009 6.10.2009
F-495 TCG Gediz 21.06.2009 15.10.2009
F-496 TCG Gökova 16.10.2009 8.02.2010
F-492 TCG Gemlik 8.02.2010 24.04.2010
F-493 TCG Gelibolu 27.02.2010 13.08.2010
F-494 TCG Gökçeada 5.08.2010 22.10.2010
F-490 TCG Gaziantep 22.10.2010 25.01.2011
F-491 TCG Giresun 25.01.2011 15.06.2011
F-495 TCG Gediz 18.09.2011 7.12.2011
F-491 TCG Giresun 28.11.2011 19.06.2012
F-492 TCG Gemlik 7.06.2012 10.12.2012
F-496 TCG Gökova 10.12.2012 15.06.2013
F-497 TCG Göksu 6.06.2013 7.12.2013
F-493 TCG Gelibolu 7.12.2013 14.03.2014
F-494 TCG Gökçeada 10.03.2014 17.06.2014
F-492 TCG Gemlik 5.08.2015 29.12.2015
F-493 TCG Gelibolu 21.01.2017 13.03.2017
F-491 TCG Giresun 2.06.2017 19.11.2017
F-496 TCG Gökova 9.07.2017 26.08.2017

Turkish And Greek Coast Guard Boats Collide

According to news reports Turkish Coast Guard vessel TCSG Umut and Greek Coast Guard vessel HCG Gavdos has collided when they were maneuvering near Kardak Islets.

HCG Gavdos sustained damage and reported to be heading to Piraeus to be repaired. There are no reports about any damage on TCSG Umut. But her sister TCSG Güven has observed leaving her home port in Büyükdere Istanbul and heading to the south. It is at this moment too early to say whether she sailed to replace TCSG Umut.

Since both sides are blaming the other for this incident it is not clear at this point how the incident really happened. But since TCSG Umut is the larger and heavier of the ships it is possible that HCG Gavdos may have bear the brunt of the collision.

Here is a comparison between the to ships:

LS 090 Gavdos SG-703 Umut
Length (m) 58 88
Beam (m) 9,55 12
Displacement (tons) no data 1727
Crew 30 60

 

HCG Gavdos seems to be damaged at near the wireless antennas towards the aft of the boat. Photos: protothema.gr and news.in.gr

NATO Task Forces Arrive In Bulgarian Ports

Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand (left) and Turkish frigate TCG Gaziantep (right). The mast of the HMS Duncan is visible at the background. Photo: BTA

After meeting up in Constanta, Romania last week, the both UK led NATO maritime task forces  SNMG-2 and SNMCMG-2 have arrived in Bulgaria.

The mine countermeasure warfare task force made a port call in Burgas while the naval task force arrived in Varna.

Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group Two (SNMCMG2), under the command of Royal Navy Commander Justin Hains, will depart from Burgas on 11th February. The task group consists of the Romanian minesweeper ROS Lupu Dinescu, Turkish mine hunter M-270 TCG Akçay and  H-88 HMS Enterprise the flagship of the task force.

Standing NATO Group Two (SNMG2), under the command of Royal Navy Commodore Mike Utley OBE, will depart from Varna on 11th February. The task group consists of the Romanian frigate F-221 ROS Regele Ferdinand, Turkish frigate F-490 TCG Gaziantep and D-37 HMS Duncan the flagship of the task force.

TCG Akçay Discovers An Old Mine Off Romanian Coast

M-270 TCG Akçay, seen here passing northbound through Istanbul 16 days ago.

Aydın class minehunter TCG Akçay has discovered a mine probably a relic of Second World War, as she was conducting training operations with SNMCMG-2 off the coast of Romania.

The NATO task force made its northbound passage through Turkish Straits 16 days ago.

The mine was discovered at 8 A.M. local time while TCG AKÇAY, under the command of Turkish Navy Lieutenant Commander Abdulla Yildiz, was using her mine hunting sonar to scan the sea bed and the water below her. The crew detected an object, which was thought to be a potential mine.  TCG AKÇAY then used her Remote Controlled Mine Discovery Vehicle (RCMDV) to investigate the possible mine further.  The RCMDV is remotely controlled from the mine hunter and used to identify mine-like objects using an onboard camera. If necessary, the RCMDV can also lay a 100kg explosive charge to destroy the mine.

SNMCMG2 was conducting mine countermeasure training with the Romanian Navy just off the Romanian coast near Constanta when the historic ordinance was discovered.  The area in question is shown on maritime charts as a formally mined area and this means that this is likely to be an historic mine.  The mine sits on the seabed at approximately 40 metres depth.  Images show that the mine is still attached to the ‘sinker’ or weight, which means that it likely didn’t deploy correctly when it was laid. Normally these mines were suspended mid water, attached to the weight on the seabed.

“Finding this historic mine demonstrates NATO’s capability to find uncharted mines in the Black Sea,” said Royal Navy Commander Justin Hains, Commander of SNMCMG2. “We work hard to practice our skills to ensure safe sea lanes. Identification and disposal of historic ordnance is just part of the mission.”

NATO is liaising with the Romanian authorities with regards to the neutralization or disposal of the mine

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