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Türkiye Commissions First Drone Carrier – TCG Anadolu
February 22, 2024

Türkiye Commissions First Drone Carrier – TCG Anadolu

On April 10, the Turkish Navy commissioned its first landing helicopter dock (LHD), the TCG Anadolu (L-400). The commissioning ceremony took place at Sedef Shipyard in Tuzla, Istanbul.

The TCG Anadolu is based on the Juan Carlos I-Class landing platform dock (LPD) designed and built by Spain’s Navantia. Türkiye selected the design in design, with construction beginning in 2016. The Turkish Navy is planning to procure a second ship of this type, i.e., TCG Trakya.

For Türkiye, the TCG Anadolu is a significant capability addition. By design, an LHD is a strategic asset meant for projecting power through long-range amphibious and expeditionary operations.

During the ceremony, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said, “This vessel will allow us to conduct military and humanitarian operations in every corner of the world, when needed.”

The TCG Anadolu has a total displacement of over 27,000 tons and a length of 232 m. When it is configured for amphibious assault operations, the ship can carry four landing craft mechanized (LCM) or, alternatively, two landing craft air cushions (LCAC) or two landing craft vehicle personnel (LCVP). Internally, the ship can also carry main battle tanks (MBT), armoured amphibious vehicles, and troops.

In its ‘aircraft carrier’ configuration, the Anadolu would operate as a vertical and/or conventional take-off and landing (V/STOL) platform. It could carry up to 10 Lockheed Martin F-35Bs and 12 helicopters. In this configuration, the latter could comprise of transportation/utility and/or attack helicopter gunships.

Originally, Türkiye had planned to procure and deploy F-35Bs from the Anadolu. However, due to the fallout of procuring the S-400 air defence system from Russia, the United States blocked the sale of the F-35A and F-35B to Türkiye (i.e., through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act).

In response, Türkiye reworked the Anadolu to carry an assortment of drones, including stealth unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV), like the Baykar Bayraktar Kızılelma or Turkish Aerospace (TUSAŞ) Anka-3. Thus, at some level, the Anadolu will retain a fixed-wing combat aircraft capability in lieu of the F-35B.

In fact, Türkiye is the first country to deploy a naval platform dedicated to deploying drones as primary or go-to fixed-wing combat assets. This ‘fighter wing’ will be a mix of assets comprising of jet-powered UCAVs and slower-speed medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) drones, like the Bayraktar TB3…

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