As Turkey prepares to launch its new flagship, the amphibious assault ship TCG anadolu (L-400), two concurrent developments shone a lightweight on the kinds of plane it’s going to finally carry. It goes with out saying that they’re fairly completely different than what was initially envisaged and anticipated when building started on the vessel in 2016.
On Nov. 20, the Bayraktar Kizilelma (“Crimson Apple”) jet-powered drone, Turkey’s first unmanned fighter jet, accomplished its first taxi and takeoff trials.
Analysts have famous the canard-delta configuration of the Kizilelma resembles China’s fifth-generation J-10 Mighty Dragon stealth fighter. Whereas the prototype will solely have a non-afterburner engine, later variations will characteristic an afterburner one, enabling the Kizilelma to succeed in supersonic speeds, which might undoubtedly give this formidable unmanned fight aerial car far larger survivability in contested airspace than its turboprop predecessors.
Baykar Protection, the producer of the Kizilelma, claims the supersonic unmanned plane can function off the anadolu. Nevertheless, analysts are skeptical because the touchdown gear on the Kizilelma prototype that flew on Nov. 20 seems too light-weight to maintain the pressures required for brief takeoffs and arrested landings on the anadolu‘s brief deck. Alternatively, that prototype might have been a land model of the Kizilelma, with a specialised naval model but to be unveiled or totally developed.
Baykar has additionally been engaged on the Bayraktar TB3, a specialised naval model of the well-known and widely-exported TB2 developed for maritime operations from the anadolu that options folding wings. The anadolu will have the ability to carry an estimated 30-50 TB3s due to their comparatively compact measurement.
The opposite growth occurred on Nov. 18 when a Turkish AH-1W SuperCobra assault helicopter and an S-70 Seahawk landed on the flagship’s deck for the primary time. Turkish AH-1Ws will function from the anadolu as an interim resolution till they’re changed by locally-produced TAI T929 ATAK assault helicopters, the successor to the Turkish-built T129 ATAK, itself a license-built variant of Italy’s Agusta A129 Mangusta.
A naval model of the ATAK and Turkey’s current SuperCobras and Seahawks have been at all times the more than likely kind of helicopters to function off the anadolu, in order that’s under no circumstances stunning. What was stunning was that the vessel in the end ended up changing into a drone service.
The Turkish Navy was purported to take supply of the amphibious assault ship in 2020. Nevertheless, that supply was delayed as a result of COVID-19 pandemic and the extra necessities the ship wanted to make it extra appropriate for working drones.
Based mostly on Spain’s flagship, the Juan Carlos Ithe anadolu It was initially supposed to function like related amphibious assault ships and carry a fleet of helicopters and brief takeoff and vertical touchdown (STOVL) fighters such because the F-35B variant of the fifth-generation stealth plane or the older AV-8B Harrier.
In 2017, Turkey was reportedly fascinated with buying surplus Harriers from the US to function interim fighters on the anadolu till it will definitely acquired F-35Bs. Any prospect of the flagship working F-35Bs was in the end dashed when the US banned Turkey from shopping for any F-35 after Ankara took supply of superior Russian S-400 air protection missile programs in 2019.
Given these restrictions, Ankara determined to take an altogether completely different method and develop the Anadolu into the distinctive service of drones and unmanned fighters we see taking form right this moment.
The flagship’s distinctive arsenal of plane might nicely function a mannequin for different navies contemplating buying drone carriers. Nevertheless, it has important limitations in comparison with a extra conventional arsenal that features manned STOVL fighter jets.
For instance, Turkey touts the low radar signature of the Kizilelma, its locally-made energetic electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, and its functionality to hold air-to-air missiles. Whereas these options are undoubtedly spectacular and extremely formidable for any drone, analysts stay extremely skeptical that they might function an satisfactory substitution for an F-35 flown by a well-trained pilot, particularly for air-to-air fight.
Subsequently, whereas distinctive, modern, and resourceful in some ways, Turkey’s new flagship could have some substantial limitations thanks in no small half to Ankara’s prior coverage and procurement decisions.