HomeBussinessDrones, tanks and ships: Takeaways from Turkey’s annual defense report

Drones, tanks and ships: Takeaways from Turkey’s annual defense report

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ISTANBUL — Turkey’s Defence Ministry released its annual report on March 7, detailing activities it carried out in 2023 and its future goals.

The ministry listed 49 ongoing modernization and acquisition projects across the military. Here are some that stood out:

Land Forces

M60 tank: Two separate modernization projects are ongoing. The first will replace the existing fire control system with the new Volkan-M, as well as provide additional armor protection and protected crew seats to M60T tanks. The contract was signed in January 2023. The second bolsters the firepower, survivability and mobility of M60A3 tanks. Prototype development studies are continuing.

Leopard 2 A4 tank: The platform variant is undergoing modernization work through a contract signed in 2022 between the government’s defense program management agency SSB and local defense contractor BMC Otomotiv. Aselsan, another Turkish business, is providing the fire control systems; remote controlled weapon stations; command, control, communication and information systems; laser warning systems; driver vision systems; active protection systems; and close-range surveillance systems. BMC will integrate these systems into the tank and overhaul the chassis.

T-155 Firtina self-propelled howitzer: The next generation of the T-155 is under construction by BMC Otomotiv. The original contract covers the delivery of 130 units. As of the end of 2023, the company had delivered eight. BMC is also developing an engine for the weapon. Inspection and acceptance activities of the prototype engine concluded Feb. 24, 2023.

ACV-15 vehicle: Aselsan is modernizing the combat vehicle by providing the 25mm Nefer turret, among other systems. The Defence Ministry’s 2nd Main Maintenance Factory Directorate is conducting the repair and overhaul of the engine and the transmission of the vehicles.

Naval Forces

Milden submarine project: The Naval Forces’ design office is working on the country’s first indigenous submarine program. Construction is to take place at Gölcük Shipyard Command. A test block is to undergo construction this year, and efforts to build the first submarine are scheduled to start in 2025.

Reis-class submarine program: Hizirreis, the second submarine of the Reis project, which includes the production of six submarines, began May 25, 2023. Gölcük Naval Shipyard is carrying out the work.

Preveze-class submarine: After integration and testing activities ended on the TCG Preveze submarine, which acted as a testbed for the early delivery of the systems, the Gölcük Naval Shipyard started midlife upgrades for the TCG Sakarya in July 2022. That platform is the first submarine to receive the modernization features, and work is ongoing. The plan is to modernize all Preveze-class subs during maintenance and overhaul periods until 2027.

Barbaros-class frigate: Turkey is working on a midlife modernization project focused on the sensors, weapons and combat management systems of Barbaros-class frigates. The first ship to receive upgrades, the TCG Barbaros, is currently performing acceptance tests.

Air Forces

F-16 fighter jet: There are two separate projects for the Turkish Air Forces. The first one is the procurement of new F-16 Block 70 aircraft and the application of Viper modernization to the existing F-16 Block 40/50 airframes in service. The second is meant to extend the structural service life of F-16C/D Block 40/50 aircraft currently in service to 2050, and to strengthen them structurally. This project will take place in facilities run by the 1st Air Maintenance Factory Directorate.

Akinci and Anka-S drones: There are ongoing efforts to buy various types of Akinci and Anka-S drones. For both of these projects, Turkey considers the extension of their range via satellite as critical.

Hürjet aircraft: The primary goal of this project is to design and produce a single-engine, tandem-seat jet trainer with performance features that will play a critical role in training pilots for modern fighter aircraft. The prototype made its maiden flight in April 2023.

Hürkuş-B aircraft: This program for a new-generation basic jet trainer is meant to meet Air Force Command’s need for additional training aircraft. Ultimately, this is to improve the quality of combat readiness training and the effectiveness of flight personnel training. The first aircraft is scheduled for delivery in 2025.

Cem Devrim Yaylali is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He is a keen photographer of military ships and has a passion for writing about naval and defense issues. He was born in Paris, France, and resides in Istanbul, Turkey. He is married with one son.

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