The Turkish Navy will soon have its very first aircraft carrier. The TCG Anadolu has been on sea trials for the past several months and is expected to enter the inventory soon.
The TCG Anadolu is a modified derivative of Navantia’s Juan Carlos Class. Built by Sedef Shipyard, most of it is domestically made. It features Havelsan’s GENESIS-ADVENT CMS, as well as many sub-systems from Aselsan. Its length is 232 meters, with a beam of 32 meters. Depending on the configuration, displacement could exceed 27,000 tons. Unlike nuclear-powered supercarriers, the diesel-powered Anadolu has a limited range of about 17,000 km.
TCG Anadolu will become the navy’s flagship, and in many ways, it will serve as a true mothership. As an amphibious assault ship, it has the capability to launch and sustain overseas operations. It can carry dozens of tanks, APCs or ZAHA marine assault vehicles. Troop capacity sits at over 1,000. There is also room for four landing crafts. All in all, the TCG Anadolu will be a great addition to the Turkish Navy’s amphibious warfare fleet.
Originally planned to only host helicopters, the ski jump was not to be included. However, as part of the F-35 program, the Turkish military later decided that F-35Bs could be acquired, which could use the ski jumps. In mid-2019 Turkey was formally removed from the F-35 programme. This degraded the allure of the Anadolu overnight. Its future role as a light carrier was jeopardised. These qualms didn’t last long. Soon after, Baykar, the manufacturer of the famed TB2, revealed two new drones. The TB3 and the MIUS/Kizilelma. Both will be able to take off and land on the Anadolu. The TB3 is an evolution of the TB2. With foldable wings and a larger carrying capacity, it is purpose-built as a naval version of the TB2, presumably offering similar air-to-ground capabilities. The TB3 will be optimal for overseas terror operations, for example in Libya or Somalia, where its loitering time and precision-strike abilities will be useful. The MIUS, otherwise known as Kizilelma, is a much more capable aircraft. The single-engine jet-powered MIUS will be stealthy and will carry an AESA radar. With the capability to detect and destroy enemy jets, the MIUS will be the most menacing aircraft in the Turkish inventory until the introduction of the TFX fighter. Though it will not have the huge carrying capacity of modern fighter jets, on paper, it could theoretically defeat 5th gen fighters. This will be largely dependent on its AI and detection distance. If designed right, the MIUS could make the F-35 programme expulsion a blessing in disguise.
Turkey’s navy is going through a massive transformation. New frigates, submarines and destroyers will complete the modernisation of Turkey’s core combat fleet. Innovative armed drone vessels such as the ULAQ will change the rules and prepare the Turkish Navy for the next evolution of naval warfare. Interestingly, if the MIUS proves itself, it would also spark a renaissance for light carriers. TCG Anadolu could go down in history as the first drone carrier, the first of many to come.