ANKARA, Turkey — Ares has signed a contract with the Turkish government to provide the Navy’s first armed unmanned surface vehicle, the local shipyard announced last week.
“We signed the contract for ULAQ ASuW [anti-surface warfare] & ASW [anti-submarine warfare] with Defence Industry Agency for the needs of Turkish Navy,” Ares tweeted Dec. 27, referring to the SSB agency.
Ares’ local partner, Meteksan, is another privately owned defense technologies firm.
Ares and SSB officials declined to comment on the contract value and order quantity.
However, an SSB official told Defense News that the ULAQ order is in the “dozens.” Speaking on the condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to talk to the media, the official noted the unit price is a “few million U.S. dollars, depending on the configuration.”
The ULAQ passed acceptance tests in 2022 and is inching toward delivery to the Navy.
In December, SSB chief Ismail Demir announced the ULAQ had enhanced operability with drones and other unmanned platforms for enhanced naval operations. He said the drone was now equipped with a new, locally built propulsion system for faster cruising.
Demir tweeted that Turkey is “equipping ULAQ armed USV with new capabilities, making it fully autonomous and developing it so that it can conduct anti-submarine warfare.”
“Our goal is 90% localization with an indigenous engine, 12.7-mm [remote controlled weapon station], torpedo, L-UMTAS missile, command and control software, communication system, camera, and sonar system,” he added.
Ares had previously identified Oman, Qatar, and African and South American countries as potential export customers for the ULAQ.
The system has a 400-kilometer (249-mile) range and can travel up to 65 kph (40 mph). The surface warfare variant is equipped with day and night vision capabilities as well as encrypted communication infrastructure, which can be operated from mobile vehicles and headquarters, or from sea platforms such as aircraft carriers or frigates.
That infrastructure can be used for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, surface warfare, asymmetric warfare, escort missions and strategic infrastructure protection.
The surface warfare variant’s missile systems are inclusive of four cells of Cirit and two of L-UMTAS, manufactured by Turkey’s state-controlled missile-maker Roketsan. The ULAQ will also be equipped with different variations of communication and intelligence technology, like jamming and electronic warfare systems.
The vessel is also expected to be able to carry out joint operations with complementary drones.
Burak Ege Bekdil is the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.