Turks have found a solution – an aircraft carrier for UAVs

WARSAW, (BM) – The LHD class “Anadolu” (Landing Helicopter Dock) is the first ship built in Turkey to be capable of carrying combat aircraft, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Defence24. For this purpose, its design was based on the design of the Spanish Juan Carlos I lighted aircraft carrier and was prepared to use shortened take-off and vertical landing F-35B aircraft (e.g., through the use of Sky Jump and deck reinforcement).

Turks have found a solution - an aircraft carrier for UAVs
Photo credit: Military Review

However, the US sanctions for Turkey’s close contacts with the Russian Federation and the S-400 long-range anti-aircraft system’s purchase changed previous plans. First of all, Ankara delayed the ship’s delivery. Its construction began on February 7, 2018; the launch was April 20, 2019, and handover was initially planned for 2020. Now that date has been postponed by at least one year, and it has also turned out that the Americans will not hand over the target F-35B aircraft to Turkey.

The only thing left for the Turks was to use an air group consisting of helicopters, including the T-129 Atak attack helicopters. Turkey also decided to check whether the ship would act as a base for assault unmanned aerial vehicles. The Turkish industry’s ability to independently produce combat drones and weapons, which also proved helpful in combat operations, will undoubtedly be a great help.

Will Bayraktar be able to take off from an aircraft carrier?

A particularly well-known design is the Bayraktar TB2 drone, which, however, is only prepared for take-off from land and not from such an unstable platform as the ship. Therefore, the Turks decided to develop a new version of these drones, which would have a reinforced structure and be adapted to the use of navigation systems used in the Turkish Navy.

“For unmanned planes to take off and land on aircraft carriers, their design must be durable, as they are subjected to massive overload shocks. Our goal is to develop a new combat uncrewed combat aircraft that will successfully land and take off on the LHD “Anadolu” Haluk Bayraktar – CEO of Baykar said.

The Turks assume that the command and control center on the “Anadolu” will have the ability to control the actions of ten armed Bayraktar TB3 drones simultaneously. However, the entire aviation group is to consists of 30-50 drones.

The structure of the ship itself is also a problem. “Anadolu” is a unit adapted only to receive VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) and STVOL (short take-off and vertical landing) class aircraft. This is evidenced by, among other things, the presence of a ramp at the bow, which is of little use when taking off turbo-propeller drones. Wanting to change this, the Turks intend to introduce various structural changes to the ship, which may further delay its handover.

The Turks will be the first in the world

However, the target effect is worth the efforts. The Turkish Navy may become the first in the world to use a drone carrier. This will require technical changes and the development of a general concept for the operational use of “Anadolu”. Thanks to the drones, Turkish defense can use the ship to recognize and perform strikes and combat submarines (equipping drones with sonobuoys). This is an additional opportunity for the Turkish industry, as the interest in this type of ship in the world can be very high.


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