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A Submarine Sighted

Type 209/1400 class submarine TCG Preveze passing southbound through Bosphorus

On 25 July 2017, a Turkish Navy, Preveze or Gür class submarine was sighted passing through Bosphorus.

Since Turkish Navy stopped painting the pennant number of the submarines on their hulls, it is impossible to identify each individual submarine anymore. While this new painting scheme helps the submarines to blend and prevents IR/FLIR/LLTV using trackers or electro-optic directors any high contrast target, it makes ship spotting difficult.

Last week TCG Preveze took part in naval exercise Breeze in Bulgaria while TCG Batıray took part in naval exercise Sea Breeze 2017 in Ukraine.

Since this is the first Preveze or Gür class submarine returning from the Black Sea and the only one recently reported to be deployed in the region, I think it is safe to say that this submarine is S-353 TCG Preveze.

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Ukranian Naval Exercise Sea Breeze 17 Has Started

US Navy cruiser USS Hue City and Turkish frigate F-241 TCG Turgutreis, off the coast of Ukraine. Photo: US Navy

Sea Breeze 2017 naval exercise has started in Odessa, Ukraine. This is the 17th edition of exercise which takes place in the Black Sea between 10. and 23. July 2017.

This year over 3,000 military personnel, 31 ship and 29 aircraft from the following nations is taking part: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Unlike previous events this year’s exercise will have no previously written scenario.

The specifics of the Ukrainian-U.S. exercise Sea Breeze 2017 are an altered structure of the headquarters, which this year will make up the exercise control headquarters and a separate naval command headquarters, which is developed in compliance with NATO standards. The method used in holding the exercise will be different from that of the previous exercises as well: the international maneuvers will be held in a “free play” mode,” the press center quoted the head of the working group on planning the exercise nominated by the Ukrainian Navy, Deputy Navy Commander on Training Captain Oleksiy Neizhpapa, as having said.

Neizhpapa added that during the Sea Breeze-2017, the multinational naval command headquarters will exercise planning and control of forces under given conditions, as well as decision-making and supervising with regard to ship tactical groups and coastal and air force components. This will allow for testing the advanced naval command headquarters’ capability of managing forces and operations to meet NATO standards, he said.

Every year, we complicate the exercise program. It’s like in sport. After so many years of cooperation and practice, we are ready for a “free game”. We will work out various scenarios , – said the head of the Sea Breeze-2017 from the American side, Navy Captain Tate Westbrook, the commander of U.S. 6th Fleet’s Task Force 65 and of the U.S. forces on scene.

Under the scenario, as explained by Captain Westbrook, the fleet of surfaces ships will conduct anti submarine warfare, try to find and neutralise the enemy submarine, the role played by the Turkish submarine TCG Batıray.

Well good luck to the ships in their effort against TCG Batıray.  This exercise shows  Turkey as the only NATO nation that can deploy submarines to the Black Sea. Romania has one Kilo class submarine on its naval register but no one has seen that boat deployed and Bulgaria disband its submarine force in 2013.

Here is the list of the participants as far as I could find:

Number Name Type Nationality
S-343 TCG Batıray Submarine Turkey
NL-124 TCG Karamürselbey Landing ship Turkey
F-241 TCG Turgutreis Frigate Turkey
CG-66 USS Hue City Cruiser USA
DDG-64 USS Carney Destroyer USA
265 ROS Contraamiral Horia Macellariu Corvette Romania
111 Maresesti Frigate Romania
U-130 Hetman Sahaidachny Frigate Ukraine

Bulgarian Naval Exercise Breeze 2017 Has Started

Super Vita class fast attack craft, HS Anthypoploiarchos Ritsos passed through Turkish Straits to participate in Breeze 2017 naval exercise.

Naming of military operations and exercises has always been a controversial topic. So it does not help much when Bulgaria names the naval exercise as Breeze when there is Ukrainian – USA joint exercise called Sea Breeze. It is not easy to distinguish between them two. The timing of these exercises makes it even more difficult.

Breeze 2017 is the Bulgarian exercise. The warships participating to this exercise have gathered in Varna.The exercise started on 14 July 2017 and will end on 23 July.

The purpose of the exercise is to develop cooperation and interoperability by performing actual maritime training among the multinational forces in the Black Sea. Besides the host, Turkey, USA, England, Italy, Poland, Romania and Greece are participating After Bulgaria, Turkey has the second largest number of units taking part in the exercise.

Here is the list of the participants as far as I could find:

Number Name Type Nationality
S-343 TCG Preveze Submarine Turkey
P-330 TCG Kılıç Fast attack craft Turkey
P-1214 TCG Karadeniz Ereğli Patrol boat Turkey
F-241 TCG Yıldırım Frigate Turkey
D-37 HMS Duncan Destroyer UK
P-71 HS Anthypoploiarchos Ritsos Fast attack craft Greece

Mid-Life Modernisation For Barbaros Class Frigates

TCG Oruçreis with her new Smart-S Mk2 radar and VLS for ESSM missiles. She will undergo a mid-life modernisation to bring her combat management systems up to the same level with her new sensors and weapons. Click here for a pre modernisation photo.

Turkish Navy signed a contract with Aselsan-Havelsan Joint Venture for mid-life upgrade on Barbaros class frigates.

The scope of the contract is to replace the legacy combat management system on board of the 4 MEKO 200 Track IIA/B class frigates, commissioned between 1997 and 2000 to Turkish Navy. These frigates have TACTICOS combat management system built by Dutch company Signaal. (Now Thales). The new Barbaros Combat Management System (BI-SYS), will be a derivate of the existing GENESIS CMS made locally and used on Ada (Milgem) class corvettes and Gabya (Perry) class frigates.

The joint venture is formed between the defence electronic company Aselsan and defense software company Havelsan The Joint Venture, will carry out development of all the hardware and software needed to integrate weapons and sensors on board with the BI-SYS. This phase will be followed by land and sea test before final integration on board of the ships.

Furthermore, a fire control system to control the Mk45 127mm gun will be manufactured with the knowledge gained from a similar FC system developed locally for the 76mm guns.

The delivery of the first ship is planned in November 2020.

TCG Kınalıada Is Launched And TCG Istanbul Is Placed On Slipway

TCG Kınalıada, finally in her element and a few good men who build her. Photo: denizhaber.com

The fourth and last ship of Ada class corvettes, F-514 TCG Kınalıada was launched today, after 8 years and 9 months since first indigenous warship TCG Heybeliada left the slipway.

Today also marked the start of a new era of Turkish warship construction. The first module of  the frigate TCG Istanbul was laid on the slipway.

The first steel of the frigate was cut on 19. January 2017. The first model of the ship was constructed during the last 6 months. As Tuzla Naval Shipyard has only one slipway to accommodate new buildings, the launching of TCG Kınalıada created space for the frigate.

TCG İstanbul will be the prototype of the second generation of the Milgem class warships. There will be four of them: TCG İstanbul, TCG İzmir, TCG İzmit and TCG İçel. They are a modified version of Ada class corvettes. They will be about 14 meters longer but will have the same width as Ada class. The frigates will be 600 tons heavier.

Construction of TCG İstanbul is expected to be completed within the next 46 months with the intended commissioning date is 2021.

I wish TCG Kınalıada fair winds and following seas.

National Submarine Workshop

A digitally created rendering of Milden shown during the workshop. The end product may have a much different shape. Interesting to note that it has X type rudders a shrouded propeller. The thin line prodding form the aft of the submarine is like to house a towed array sonar or a towed counter measure. There is a provision for flank array sonar. The sail is streamlined and houses the forward diving planes.

Turkish Naval Forces organised a national Submarine Workshop on 15. and 16. June at Tuzla Naval Shipyard.

This invitation only workshop was attended by marine engineers both military and civilian, representatives of defense companies and scholars.

The aim was to create a viable road map for the National Submarine, to identify competencies and competences of the national companies and potential short comings, risks in design and production phases.

Turkish Navy wants to commission its first indigenous submarine in 2030. Commander of Turkish Naval Forces Admrail Bostanoğlu stated in his opening speech that Turkish Navy was overhauling its submarines in Gölcük Naval Yard for the last 53 years. He also mentioned that Turkey constructed 11 submarines in 35 years and the building of Type 214 submarines was proceeding.

For me the most interesting part of the speech when Admiral Bostanoğlu mentioned that Turkish Navy developed its own engineering solution to 5 major design faults of Type 214 submarines.

These solutions were verified by TKMS and incorporated into the design of Turkish Type 214’s. Therefore the Turkish submarines will have slightly different dimensions compared to the one’s already serving in Greek, Portuguese and South Korean navies.

Admiral Bostanoğlu indicated the following objectives where local work and innovations is needed:

  • Integrated sonar and fire control system
  • High resolution optronics systems
  • Periscope
  • LPI navigation radar
  • ECM system capable of detecting LPI radars
  • Enhanced COMING and SIGINT capabilities
  • Accurate inertial navigation system
  • EHF and SHF satellite communication system
  • Link 16/22 ability
  • AIP
  • High powered batteries
  • Long range land attack capable cruise missiles
  • Locally developed torpedoes and mines
  • Torpedo and mine countermeasures.

Milden is the Turkish abbreviation of MİLli DENizaltı meaning National Submarine in English. It will be quite a buzz word for the next decade like Milgem.

It is not a secret that Turkey aims to develop and built its own submarines and reduce its dependency to foreign suppliers in critical areas. This workshop indicates that the local know-how and production abilities reached a critical mark where a local development is considered feasible.

What Do We Know About Temren Missile?

Turkish Seahawk helicopter firing a Temren missile during Deniz Kurdu 2017 exercise in May 2017. Photo: Turkish Naval Forces

Temren means arrowhead in Turkish. The missile is designed primarily to be used by naval helicopters against small surface targets. It is possible to adapt the missile to be used from small combatants in the future.

The missile is a derivate of the long range anti-tank missile UMTAS developed by Roketsan.

My understanding is that the request for Temren came for Turkish Navy and the project was initiated by them. The absence of publicly available information and the unusual lack of marketing documents and news releases from Roketsan’s side indicate that the project is managed also by Turkish Navy rather than Undersecreteriat For Defence industries (UDI).

Since there is not much publicly available information the rest of the text is my based of on sparse information available on internet, on some gossips and on my opinion.

According to Roketsan:

UMTAS, with its Imaging Infrared Seeker and Laser Seeker options, is an anti-tank missile, having a range of 8 km and lock on before/after launch and “fire and forget/fire and update” properties, used against armored targets, from air to ground as well as ground to ground. UMTAS, with its maximum range of 8 km and minimum range of 500 m is capable of operating all weather conditions and day/night.
UMTAS has a RF Data Link that enables missile to receive target updates after firing.

As stated, Temren is a UMTAS modified for maritime operations. Thus, it should have an IIR seeker to improve its aim.

8 kilometers is a good range for an airborne anti-tank missile and makes UMTAS on par with Hellfire. Traditionally, naval vessels have a better defence against aircraft compared to tanks. For naval engagements, a 8-kilometer-range, is not enough as it will put the firing helicopter well inside the effective reach of MANPADS and light anti-aircraft missiles like RAM.

Temren should have longer range than the stated range of UMTAS, to give Temren a true stand-off radius. A longer range for Temren can be achieved either by making missile larger to place the extra propellant or making the missile lighter by making the warhead simpler or smaller. A tandem warhead designed against armored vehicles may be an overkill for naval targets. Thus, Temren might have just a HE warhead that weighs less than the original.

The first test firing was performed in January 2015. So the developent of the missile must have been started somewhere in 2013 -2014. A Temren was also fired during the recent Deniz Kurdu 2017 naval exercise last month.

The missile has the potential to be fitted on smaller surface vessels. It is safe to assume that work is also being performed to integrate the Temren with stabilised weapon systems on naval vessels, giving them a stronger punch.

It is not clear whether the serial production of the Temren missile has started or the missile has been inaugurated into Turkish Navy

 

 

 

 

TCG Giresun Escorts Turkish Aid Ship To Somalia

M/V Sebat leaving Mersin harbour. Photo: AFAD.

On 4. June 2017, bulk carrier M/V Sebat, left Turkey with 13 thousand tons of food and aid on board. The ship’s destination is Mogadishu, Somalia.

The cargo on board of M/V Sebat was organised by Turkish Red Crescent, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).

The ship will be escorted by Turkish frigate TCG Giresun. In pervious years Turkish Navy, provided protection to other ships, carrying humanitarian aid from Turkey to the region.

After escorting the aid ship to her destination TCG Giresun will join the piracy task force CTF-151 and perform patrols in Gulf of Aden. There is a Seahawk helicopter a diving chamber, one naval special forces team and one VBSS team on board. The ship will return to Turkey in November 2017.

This is the fifth deployment of TCG Giresun to the region. She was there in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2015.

Turkish Coast Guard And Navy Confiscate Record Size Of Narcotics

M/V Commander Tide being towed towards Aksaz Naval Base by tug TCG İnebolu.

Turkish Navy and Turkish Coast Guard conducted a joint operation and confiscated 1071 kilograms of narcotics of board of M/V Commander Tide.

M/V Commander Tide is a Democratic Republic of the Congo flagged off shore supply vessel. On 30. May 2017, upon receiving a tip-off about the narcotics on board of M/V Commander Tide, frigate TCG Gemlik was deployed to Eastern Mediterranean close the northern entrance of Suez Canal with a helicopter and a naval special forces team on board. Acting as the lookout, the frigate found M/V Commander Tide and started to shadow her.

The route of the ships and the location of the operation. Yellow for coast guard vessels, red for the target.

Two off shore patrol vessels from Coast Guard were deployed with anti-drug police teams, TCSG Yaşam from Mersin and TCSG Güven from Aksaz.  Both ships intercepted their target in international waters of Mediterranean between Turkey and Suez Canal.

On 2. June 2017 before the midnight one naval special forces team boarded the vessels from the sea while a second one fast-roped from a Seahawk helicopter of the navy. The M/V Commander Tide was under control in 26 minutes and her 9 strong Turkish crew were arrested. The ship was towed to Aksaz Naval base by Turkish naval tug TCG İnebolu.

Teams from the police’s anti-drug branch and Muğla Coast Guard Command carried out searches on the ship and found clandestine sections, of which one included 1071 kilograms of heroin hidden in 40 sacks. According to the police, the amount of heroin corresponds to the highest seized by security forces in Turkey’s recent history.

The operation was dedicated to Coast Guard sailor Alper Al, who was killed by an IED attack on May 22, 2016.

The Evaluation of TCG Istanbul’s Design

During the IDEF 2015 12th International Defense Industry Fair, Turkish Navy shared the first conceptual drawing of the second generation of Milgem class. There was a poster about TCG Istanbul on the Turkish Naval Forces booth during IDEF 2017 too.

I though it would be interesting to compare the photos and see how the design of TCG Istanbul has evolved.

Not surprisingly there are a few changes in design on the outside. Any changes made inside the ship remains elusive. The changes are focused between the bow and midships. It seems as the design of the ship from midships to aft has been found satisfactory.

The most important change is in the shape of the bridge and the mast.Lets look at them:
1. If the darker patches along the hull indicate openable hatches, there is a new hatch at location 1. On Ada class corvettes this area is used for replenishment. Since the design of TCG İstanbul is based on Ada class it is safe to assume that this area will be used for replenishment too. Thus there was a need to implement a hatch there to ease the operations there.

2. The location of the SATCOM antennas has changed. In 2015 there were located towards to the end of the mast. In 2017 there were moved a few meters to the front.

3. There are new antennas there. Their place and shape suggests antennas for an on board electronic warfare system. Probable a local development. The antennas of SATCOM and ECM are pretty close. I hope they won’t create any interference.

4. The photos are not quite detailed but the electro-optical tracking and detection system has changed. In 2015 it was round and ball-shaped like ASELFLIR 300D. In 2017 it has a distinct rectangular shape of Denizgözü-Ahtapot. So the old system used on Ada class corvettes and Tuzla class patrol boats was replaced with a new generation sensor.

5. The shape of the bridge, and the forward part of the mast has changed. In 2015 the forward surfaces had a more slanted slope. In 2017 the slopes are more steep. The roof of the bridge is also less clustered and has more clean lines.

6. The all closed bow guards rails has been modified. The newer version has a bow bulwark and open guard rails. This must have changed the stealthiness of the ship. But the trade-off between becoming a little less stealth and having a flexible forward maneuvering area must be important for the handlers.

The sensors with the exception of the EO system and addition of ECM system and the weapons seem to be unchanged.

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