Written by D-Mitch
|TCG Heybeliada, lead ship of the Ada class corvettes|
The MILGEM project, from the Turkish words Milli Gemi (National Ship), is a Turkish national warship program with the aim to design and build locally a fleet of hi-tech stealth multipurpose corvettes and frigates that will replace older ships which are currently in service. Through this ambitious program, Turkey seeks to improve national military shipbuilding capacity and skills and ultimately to achieve independence from foreign weapon producers, designers and manufacturers. More than 50 local companies, including the largest Turkish defense firms such as Aselsan, Havelsan and RMK Marine, play a significant role in the MILGEM project, gaining invaluable experience in warship design and construction. The MILGEM Project Office of the Istanbul Naval Shipyard Command executes and coordinates the design, development and construction works of the MILGEM project since March 12, 2004. The programme initially included the construction of 12 ships in two batches (blocks, due to important differences among the batches). The first batch would have included eight (8) multipurpose corvettes the so-called MILGEM Block I (Ada; island in Turkish) class while the last four (4) would be of the TF-100 frigates equipped with vertical-launching system (VLS) for surface-to-air (SAM) missiles. This plan changed recently as the first batch will include only four corvettes of the Ada class, while all the rest ships will be designated as MILGEM Block II.
In 2014, the head of naval projects for SSM, said that a request for proposals (RfP) for the Batch II (from ship 5) corvettes (also known as MILGEM -G) was expected to be issued by the end of the year. At the same time he said that work on the previously planned TF-100 project for a light frigate to replace some of Turkey's older MEKO 200 frigates had been stopped as "this role will now be covered by the Batch II MILGEM ". The new ships will have an increased length of about 10m and they will include in their equipment a) an Mk41 VLS for Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM), b) Phalanx CIWS instead of RAM (logically from the decommissioned Gabya-class frigates), c) two more quadruple SSM launchers, d) perhaps 25mm RWS/guns such as STOP (instead of STAMP), e) further combat system upgrades, f) new anti-torpedo system and g) diesel engines. The ships of the MILGEM Block I will replace gradually the six D'Estienne d'Orves-class/Burak class corvettes while the MILGEM Block II will replace the non-modernized Gabya/O. H. Perry class frigates (4 in service) and the Yavuz (MEKO 200TN Track I) class frigates (4 in service). This year the designation name of the new Batch changed to I-class.
|An overhead view of TCG Heybeliada corvette during sea trials|
|Conceptual drawing of MILGEM-G class. Original photo by Arda Mevlütoğu. |
|The characteristics of the I-class frigates.|
The photo was taken during IDEF 2015.
Till today (June, 2015) only two corvettes have been commissioned by the Turkish Navy and two more are in different phases of construction. The lead ship of the class, TCG Heybeliada (F-511) was launched at t the TNFC's Istanbul Naval Shipyard on September 27, 2008. The cost of the lead ship was around US$260 million. The ship entered in service on September 27, 2011. On the same day and at the same shipyard, the TCG Büyükada (F-512) was launched and exactly two years later, in 2013, she was commissioned into Turkish Navy. The same day the keel for the third ship TCG Burgazada (F-513) was laid. However, the MILGEM programme encountered major setbacks in 2013 that cast doubt over the project's future. Under the original planning a nominated private Turkish shipyard was to work together with Istanbul Naval Shipyard on the third and fourth ships in Pendik in order to transfer the know-how required for the construction of subsequent ships in its own facility, and RMK Marine was selected in January 2013. However, contract negotiations were halted in mid-2013 when a complaint from SEDEF Shipyard sparked a probe. In August the prime minister's inspection office concluded that the tender for follow-on ships was not held in a competitive manner and should therefore be cancelled. The SSM's (Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries) executive committee acknowledged the findings of the inspection office inquiry during a 26 September 2013 meeting and set out a revised procurement strategy in which it was decided that the fourth corvette would now also be built at Istanbul Naval Shipyard while a new tender was opened for the I-class ships. The experience and technological know-how gained with the MILGEM project will play an important role in determining the design characteristics and the development process of the anti-aircraft warfare TF-2000 class frigates.
|The two ships of the class (at the moment) in formation|
|Front view of an Ada class corvette.|
|Modified photo of an Ada class corvette. For a high resolution image click here|
|OTO Melara Super Rapido gun system|
|STAMP RWS. Photo: Aselsan|
|Click to enlarge and save the image to view the details: modified photo of Ada class corvette. |
For a high resolution image click here.
For specialized anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense (CIWS), the vessels of the class have one Mk 49 Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) with 21 missiles each ready to launch RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) (Block 1A). The launching system is located atop the helicopter hangar. Together, missiles and launching system comprise the RAM Mk 31 Guided Missile Weapon System (GMWS). RAM is a class-leading weapon system providing a full perimeter protection to the vessel operator. The Block 1A missile has infrared guidance system that enables it to intercept missiles that are not emitting any radar signals while the Block 0 passive radar homing capabilities have been retained. The range exceeds the 9 km and the speed surpasses the 2 Mach.
|Heybeliada's RAM launcher in action|
|Aft view of the corvette Heybeliada|
|The RAM launcher|
|Harpoon launcher of Heybeliada|
|Twin Mk32 launcher of Heybeliada.|
Photo via turkishnavy.net
|Seahawk armed with Mk54 torpedo|
|Seahawk armed with Hellfire ASM|
|The new Mizrak-D ASM|
|The stern ramp with the craft retrieval system|
Two Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) are carried by the corvettes. One of them with its davit is located at port side of the ship. The second RHIB is located over the steering gear room with a boat ramp at the stern.
|The complete Ultra Electronics Sea Sentor Surface Ship Torpedo Defence (SSTD) system.|
Image: Ultra Electronics
Photo via turkishnavy.net
|Aselsan HIZIR. Image: Aselsan|
The corvettes of the class are equipped with the British Ultra Electronics Sea Sentor Surface Ship Torpedo Defence (SSTD) system. The system consists of an acoustic passive towed array, a towed acoustic countermeasure, a single-drum winch, a processing cabinet, two display consoles, two expendable acoustic device/countermeasures launchers (port and starboard) and 16 expendable acoustic devices (8 in each launcher). The passive acoustic towed array is specifically designed to detect torpedoes and has additional in-built non-acoustic as well as acoustic intercept sensors. Through advanced AI processing it is able to generically identify torpedoes as well as classify specific weapon types and modes and undertake threat evaluation and posturing analysis. The system provides tactical advice dependent upon the specific threat weapon, mode and posture to maximize vessel survivability, which typically involves vessel manoeuvres and also includes the deployment of countermeasures. The countermeasures - both towed and expendable variants - lure the threat away from the vessel in a soft-kill manner by transmitting an acoustic decoy signature in the water. The system equips also the Royal Navy's Type 23 (Duke) class frigates. From the 3rd ship and after, the system will be replaced by the indigenous and more advanced Aselsan HIZIR SSTD. HIZIR is an advanced Surface Ship Torpedo Countermeasure System composed of Towed Array, Towed Decoy, Winch, Electronic Cabinet, Launcher and Expandable Decoy subsystems. The system is integrated with the Sonar, Combat Management System and Ship Data Distribution Unit. HIZIR system is capable of detecting torpedo threats from a distance required for instant counter reaction. Using advanced Detection, Classification and Localization algorithms, the system advises the operator the most suitable tactic required to escape from threat. This includes an evasive maneuvering advice for ship, related parameters and timings for towed decoy and deployment time of expandable decoys.You can watch how the new system works in the following video.
|Hard-kill and soft-kill weapon systems of an Ada class corvette. High resolution image here.|
|Above the ARES-2 EW antennas the SMART-S Mk2 radar.|
|From up to down: SMART-S, ARES, VMFT, ALPER and STING|
|Sting EO system of Heybeliada. Photo: niki-zlatev.blogspot.com|
Aselsan ALPER is a low probability of intercept (LPI) X-band naval radar system for the
detection of sea surface targets in all weather conditions. Developed specifically for wartime
navigation of military vessels, ALPER's LPI characteristic is vital in
detecting surrounding targets while not being detected by enemy vessels.
ALPER's design allows for integration with Warfare Management Systems
and existing navigation radars on the vessel, and hence can be operated
via a mutual console. The maximum range of detection is close to 67km.
|ALPER LPI Radar. Photo: Aselsan|
|Above the Alper radar is the forward VisionMaster FT navigation radar|
|The aft VMFT, AselFlir and one STAMP|
|The forward VMFT above ALPER|
|From left to right: RAM launcher, VMFT,|
STAMP, Sea Sentor. Photo: turkishnavy.net
STAMP, Sea Sentor. Photo: turkishnavy.net
|LIAS below the Sea Sentor SSTD|
|The bridge and the STING EO Mk2.|
|Sea Sentor SSTD launcher and one laser warning receiver|
Aselsan Laser Warning Receiver (LIAS) is a state-of-the-art threat warning system that equips the ship responsible to detect, classify, identify and give warning of hostile laser threats aiming on the platform. LIAS is designed to detect almost all of types of the laser threats available in the world military inventory. Laser Range Finders (LRF), Laser Designators (LD) and Laser Beam Riders (LBR) threats operating on various optical bands can be detected by the system. LIAS is comprised of one Processor Unit and several Sensor Units installed on the body of the platform. Each Sensor Unit has 90º field-of-view in azimuth and ±40º field-of-view in elevation axes. At least 4 Sensor Units are required but this number can be increased to 8 depending on the size of platform. With this approach total coverage of the platform is guaranteed. Sensor Unit includes detector and after detector electronics to detect the laser signals. Sensor Unit creates and sends the parameters of the threat laser signals to Processor Unit. The Processor Unit gathers the information from Sensor Units, evaluates the signal parameters and classifies, identifies, tracks and declares laser threats to a host computer (such as Electronic Warfare System - EWS) to be alarmed and displayed on the MMI. Processor Unit can also perform the direct and immediate initiation of the countermeasure (CM) system(s) if available onboard.
|Aselsan ASELFLIR-300T EO sensor. Photo: turkishnavy.net|
Aselsan ASELFLIR-300T Advanced Targeting System is a multi-sensor electro-optical targeting and surveillance system. ASELFLIR-300T System consists of a Thermal Camera, a Laser Range Finder/Laser Designator, a Laser Spot Tracker, a Color TV Camera and a Color Spotter Camera.
|View of the bridge and the main mast. Below the SMART-S (top)|
there is the ARES-2 electronic warfare system
Within its operating frequency range (2-18 GHz) Aselsan ARES-2N offers a wide range of solutions for naval platforms. The system has the capability of detecting, intercepting, identifying, classifying, tracking, Direction Finding (DF), localizing, audio warning, platform correlating and recording the electromagnetic emissions. It provides wideband intercept of radar signals; single DF in wide frequency band and high signal processing speed facilitate the processing of complex radar signals. A key feature of the system is its precision parameter measurement and advanced emitter characterization capabilities. The system can trace marked emitters automatically and locate them. The system has high probability of intercept capability with its wideband receiver architecture. The high processing sensitivity provides long range detection capability and low LPI radar detection capability. Bandwidth selectivity allows the system to be immune to the desensitization that occurs in wide-open systems when CW signals or pulse Doppler signals are present in the environment.
|TCG Burgazada is ready for her scheduled launching ceremony on 17 June 2016.|
The MİLGEM project warships have an indigenous hull mounted mid-frequency active/passive sonar, the TBT-01 Yakamoz, that is developed by the Scientific and Technological Research Foundation of Turkey. The sonar dome has been developed and produced by ONUK-BG Defence Systems, extensively employing nano-enhanced Fiber Reinforced Polymer.
|GENESIS CMS's consoles|
Photo via turkishnavy.net
|Operator consoles for the RWS STAMP.|
Photo via turkishnavy.net
|Heybeliada's helm. |
Photo via turkishnavy.net
The MILGEM class corvette is equipped with the UNIMACS 3000 series highly sophisticated Integrated Platform Control Monitoring System (IPMS) developed by Yaltes, to maintain continuous and reliable operations, reduced reaction time and simplify ship management. Main propulsion system, electrical power distribution, auxiliary systems and other ship service systems are controlled, managed and monitored by ICMS. The main systems integrated in IPMS include a power management system, fire detection system, fire fighting and damage control system, CCTV system and stability control system.
MILGEM class ships have a nationally developed network-centric Combat Management System (CMS), the GENESIS (Gemi Entegre Savaş İdare Sistemi, i.e. Ship Integrated Combat Management System), which is fully distributed and collects information from all the sensors on board. GENESIS is developed by Havelsan and originally used in the upgraded Gabya-class frigates of the Turkish Navy. CMS processes this information and assigns weapons accordingly. CMS also shares information with other units in the task force via tactical data links. MILGEM's CMS infrastructure consists of dual distributed data bus covering the whole ship, and it's open system architecture is upgradable to inherit new systems and capabilities. The CMS includes operator consoles (OPCON) and tactical consoles (TACON), land-based test system units, inter-console units, a commander unit and combat system video network. In total there are 5 Operator Consoles (OpCons), 2 Tactical Consoles (TaCons), 1 Commander Unit (COU) and 8 Inter Console Units (ICUs). All these consoles were designed and manufactured by Yaltes.
|Elements of the Ada's CMS. Image: SSM|
|Accommodation facilities. Image: SSM|
The Ada class features a digital chart precise integrated navigation system (ECPINS) supplied by OSI Geospatial. Among others they are equipped with Aselsan X-band SATCOM terminals, GPS, LAN, ECDIS/WECDIS and Link 11/16. Definitely these warships are some of the most advanced ships in their category worldwide.
- The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems