ANKARA — Turkey launched its third locally produced corvette Saturday at a high-profile ceremony and has begun the construction of its forth.
Speaking at the launch of the Ada-class corvette, the TCG Burgazada, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the country is seeking full self-sufficiency in defense systems by the year 2023, the centennial of modern Turkey.
Officials say Turkey's local industry meets 60 percent of the military requirements, up from around 25 percent in the early 2000s.
Erdogan said that Turkey would soon "be in a position to make our own aircraft carriers."
Though that may seem ambitious, Turkish shipyard Sedef Shipbuilding Inc. has teamed up with Spain's Navantia to build Turkey's first landing platform dock for less than $1.5 billion.
Burgazada is the third Ada-class corvette produced under a program dubbed MILGEM. The first ship, the TCG Heybeliada, was launched in 2008.
The MILGEM ships, named after the Prince Islands off Istanbul, are designed primarily for search and rescue, patrol, and anti-submarine warfare missions. They can carry a Seahawk helicopter and are armed with a 76mm gun, missiles and torpedoes.
They have a displacement of 2,400 tons, a maximum speed of more than 29 knots (33 mph) and a range of 3,500 nautical miles.
Turkish officials recently said they will order four more corvettes after the MILGEM program is complete. These will be "more advanced and bigger vessels," they said.
Speaking at Saturday's ceremony, Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik said that reducing dependence on foreign arms is a key goal of the Turkish defense industry.
Confirming commitment to that goal, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that the Ankara government had invested $30 billion in the defense industry over the past 14 years.