Türkiye’s multi-purpose amphibious assault ship and flagship-to-be, the TCG Anadolu, opened its doors to press members on Saturday for the first time.
The TCG Anadolu, on display at the shipyard in Istanbul’s Tuzla, is one of the platforms that can carry not only the naval forces but also Türkiye’s position in diplomacy to a very high level with its facilities and capabilities.
The TCG Anadolu, a landing helicopter dock (LHD) type vessel modeled on Spain's LHD Juan Carlos, is planned to be delivered to the Naval Forces Command at the end of the year.
Final tests are currently being carried out on the platform, which was launched in 2015 under the leadership of the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB).
Ismail Demir, head of the SSB, said during the press tour that a new era has begun with the TCG Anadolu.
“Within the scope of the project, a force of at least one battalion in the Aegean, Mediterranean and the Black Sea will be able to transfer to the crisis region with its own logistics support, without the need for home base support,” Demir said.
In 2015, the Turkish Naval Forces in their strategy report announced the aim to bring the Turkish navy to the upper league, from a navy capable of medium-scale regional power transfer to a "navy with medium-scale global power transfer capability."
The 48-page report laid down a path for the modernization of the navy. It outlined the regional and global developments, in which the construction of an LHD was included in six to 10 years of plans.
Demir further stated that the LHD project, which was started in 2015, is about to be completed, that the rate of domestic production on the ship is around 70% and that they are working with a very wide chain of sub-loaders.
“This will be the largest warship in our country and there are only 12 countries in the world that have ships of this scale. Our navy will strengthen its power with this ship,” Demir said.
Demir also stressed that the weapon systems, radar and electronic warfare systems, and avionics systems on the ship were all developed by Türkiye’s defense industry with national resources.
The ship, which was launched in May 2019, started sea acceptance tests in June 2022 and tests are still ongoing.
Demir went on to say that the ship, which will be a part of the NATO alliance, will be the world’s first such ship deployed with unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) that will land on and take off from it.
He said that work is ongoing with Turkish drone magnate Baykar in this regard.
The Bayraktar TB3 UCAV, which is currently under development at the Baykar facilities, is a variant of the famed Bayraktar TB2 and is planned for the flagship-to-be vessel.
Demir noted that in the upcoming period, not only the UCAVs but also domestic aircraft such as Kızılelma and Hürjet will also be among the aircraft that will be deployed on the TCG Anadolu.
Kızılelma ("Red Apple"), the name given to the National Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle System (MIUS), is preparing to make its maiden flight, while Hürjet is an advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI).
AH-1W SuperCobra helicopters and general-purpose helicopters will also be deployed on the TCG Anadolu.
The launchpad constructed on the Anadolu's deck provides a vertical landing for aircraft, such as the Lockheed Martin's STOVL (Short Take-Off / Vertical Landing) F-35Bs. Since Türkiye was removed from the F-35 program, the country was in search of alternatives until the deployment of the UCAVs come to the fore, which will mark a global first.
The U.S.' removal of Türkiye from the F-35 program, in which Ankara was both a manufacturer and buyer, came after Türkiye purchased Russian S-400 air and missile defense systems, which Washington argues could be used by Moscow to obtain classified details on the jet, along with its being incompatible with NATO systems. Türkiye, however, counters that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance, underlining that the U.S. pushed Ankara toward deciding to pursue alternative sellers after Washington refused to sell its Patriot systems.
The TCG Anadolu, the largest defense industry project that Türkiye has ever produced as a single product, has been equipped with extremely critical capabilities. This puts the vessel in a position to serve not only in the surrounding seas of Türkiye – dubbed the "Blue Homeland" – but also in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans when necessary.
With a length of 231 meters (758 feet) and a height of 58 meters, the TCG Anadolu weighs 27.4 tons. The giant platform, which reaches a maximum speed of 21 knots with a full load, will be able to host land, air and sea elements.
According to the information provided, the water-capable pool inside the ship will allow four LCM (landing craft mechanism) ships, each carrying one tank.
It will be able to carry a total of 94 vehicles, including 13 tanks, 27 armored amphibious assault vehicles, six armored personnel carriers (APCs) 33 miscellaneous type vehicles and 15 trailers.
A total of 10 helicopters or 50 UCAVs can be deployed on the flight deck, and this number can reach up to 100 depending on the configuration.
The ship will have a carrying capacity of 1,223 personnel. There will be a full-fledged hospital facility and two operating theaters on board.