October 5, 2022

Beginning of serial production of Türkiye’s first unmanned marine vehicle

Mass production of Türkiye’s first armored unmanned surface vessel (AUSV), the first marine craft under the ULAQ project, has begun, according to a company official on Thursday.

The studies have been launched for the production of 50 units per year at the request of some countries, Onur Yıldırım, project manager of unmanned systems of Ares Shipyard, told Demirören News Agency (DHA).

The marine craft was developed by Ares Shipyard in cooperation with Ankara-based Meteksan Defense Industry Inc.

Yıldırım said that the ULAQ project is a collaboration between Ares Shipyard and Meteksan Defense, one of the leading companies in the Turkish defense industry, with its own capital.

The project started with research and development (R&D) and design studies in the second half of 2018, Yıldırım said, before the start of sea and field trials in 2020.

It hit a target with pinpoint accuracy in its first shot as part of the military exercise Sea Wolf (Denizkurdu) 2021, which was launched by Turkish naval forces simultaneously in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea.

The AUSV fired Cirit missiles, produced by another Turkish defense giant, Roketsan, during the exercise.

The craft once carried a pod with four laser-guided Crist missiles and two laser-guided long-range anti-tank missile launchers, Yıldırım noted, explaining that this weapon system has been dismantled and the Koralp stabilized weapon system 12.7 mm was integrated into the platform afterwards.

Yıldırım explained that the field work with live firing tests was successfully completed in January.

The AUSV has a cruising range of 400 kilometers (249 miles), a speed of 65 km/h (40.3 mph), day and night vision capabilities and a nationwide encrypted communications infrastructure, making it is “more than just a remote-controllable boat, it is an autonomous vehicle,” according to Yıldırım.

The AUSV also has three different modes of operation, he said, remote control, satellite operation and autonomous operation.

“It can carry out autonomous missions and operations at sea within the rules of maritime conflict prevention regulations by analyzing within its own algorithm and software, completely independent of the operator. In doing so, all systems, except for weapons engagement, are autonomously activated and allow the boat to navigate safely,” he explained.

Emphasizing that ULAQ is a family of products and there will be different configurations of the current prototype, Yıldırım said, “The boat that we produced as a prototype is a boat that performed the surface warfare tasks and port defence.

“We continue to produce alternative boats in line with the authorities’ requests. Currently, the construction of a boat with superior characteristics to our prototype boat has begun. Subsequently, we continue to work with friendly and allied countries abroad with different platforms where we integrate useful loads according to their needs. At the request of some countries, a production capacity of 50 units per year has been created,” he said.

Listing the superior features of the new ULAQ, Yıldırım said that the new boat is larger than the current prototype and “this positively affects the maritime and its performance, and due to the increase in displacement, the amount of payload that can to be integrated on it is higher.

“In effect, this means it has the ability to perform many different tasks at the same time by deploying more than one weapon load with different characteristics on a platform.”

“Unmanned naval platforms have the capability to perform all kinds of tasks in surface, air defense and submarine defense warfare, provided they are equipped with appropriate payloads as an asymmetric threat or as electronic warfare,” Yıldırım continued, adding that the success of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in domestic and international operations inspired them to produce AUSVs.

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