ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has launched the country’s first indigenous submarine program, known as MILDEN, a Turkish acronym for “national submarine."
Under the plan, local defense contractors will design, develop and produce the R-class submarines at domestic shipyards by using the technology they earned from an ongoing submarine program.
Rear Adm. Mehmet Sari, deputy general director for the Defence Ministry’s shipyards department, said now that specialist teams have been assigned to the submarine program, the next phase is construction planning.
Delivery of the first sub to the Turkish Navy is expected by 2040.
The air-independent propulsion submarines will feature silent cruising, advanced heavy torpedoes and guided missiles. Several local contractors, from electronics specialists to missile makers, are to join the consortium that will build the submarines. The vessels will be constructed at the Gölcük naval shipyards.
“The program will be a copy of the German contract,” a naval specialist in Ankara told Defense News.
Under a 2011 contract worth €2.5 billion (U.S. $2.8 billion), six Type 214 submarines are to be built for the Turkish Navy, with some of the subsystems supplied by local contractors.
Turkish military electronics specialist Aselsan, a government-controlled company, is providing electronic support measures and sensor systems for the submarine program. Military software specialist Havelsan, another government-controlled company, will build an integrated command-and-control suite.
The Type 214 is based on the Type 209 SSK built built by German firm Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft. The Type 214 include design features from the German shipbuilder’s Type 212. The Turkish sub displaces 1,700 tons when surfaced, has eight torpedo tubes able to deploy heavyweight torpedoes — such as the Atlas Elektronik SeaHake — and has anti-ship missiles, such as the Harpoon and Exocet.
In 2017, Turkish and German naval specialists signed a letter of intent to cooperate on a contract to build a variant of the Type 214 diesel-electric submarine for the Indonesian Navy.
Burak Ege Bekdil is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He has written for Hurriyet Daily News, and worked as Ankara bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He is also a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Middle East Quarterly and Gatestone Institute.