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8th Naval System Seminar in Ankara Highlights $40 Billion in SSM Projects and Turkey’s Prowess in Global Military Vessel Market

The 8th Naval Systems Seminar was held on 16-17 October 2017 at the METU Cultural and Conventional Center in Ankara with the support of AFCEA, ODTÜ-BİLTİR, TSS News Group, Undersecretariat for Defense Industries and Naval Forces Command.

Commander of the Naval Forces Vice Admiral Adnan Özbal and Undersecretary for Defense Industries Prof. İsmail Demir remained at the first day of the seminar, in addition to many senior military and defense executives, domestic and foreign industry representatives and company executives who gathered at the center. 1,200 individuals were registered for the seminar as participants and compared to last year’s seminar there was an increase in high-level participation. Technical presentations from various levels of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, Naval Forces Command as well as 48 technical presentations in total were accomplished in parallel sessions.

The opening remarks started with a short speech from the organizer of the seminar Ret. Certified Engineer Senior Captain A. Zafer Betoner. Betoner noted that the seminar became a regional brand with its unique structure and added that they are taking firm steps towards becoming a worldwide brand.  Betoner closed his speech by thanking everyone who had contributed to the seminar. 

A total of 530 Projects Executed by the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries Reaches Nearly $40 Billion 

In his opening speech, Head of the Naval Platforms Department at the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries Mr. Alper Köse delivered a presentation covering the current status of the Naval Platform Projects and their strategic targets.

Pointing out that as of today they are executing 530 projects as the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries and that the total amount of these projects reached approximately $40 billion, Mr. Köse continued: “300 of these projects are bound by contracts and the remaining 230 projects are under proposal evaluation and signing stages. We used to have 66 projects in 2002, yet today this figure reached 530 and increased to $40 billion from $8.25 billion. While the turnover of our industry reached 21 billion TL from 1.6 billion TL, our rate of fulfilling the requirements through domestic resources increased to 60% from 25%. We provide employment opportunities to 35,000 people in our industry. The resources allocated to R&D yearly reached $1.3 billion and with this figure we became the industry that invests the most in R&D and technology among the leading sectors in Turkey. As our defense industry has reached manufacturing strength that exceeds $5.9 billion with the domestic and foreign sales in 2016, our exports reached $1.9 billion.” 

 

SSM Naval Platforms Department Head Mr. Köse: “Naval Platforms Department - Volume of 28 Projects Reaches $12 billion”

Stating that as the Naval Platforms Department of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, they are currently executing 28 projects bounded by contracts, Mr. Köse continued: “We have signed the contracts of the 3 projects out of these 28 projects quite recently, on 6-13 October. The approximate amount of these projects conducted under the auspices of our Department exceeded $12 billion. While we are accomplishing the acceptance of some of the platforms of these projects, the construction and outfitting activities of some are underway and we are newly launching some of them. Expressing that there are projects with contracts that were signed as part of the Amphibious Project Group consisted of Landing Ship Tank (LST), Logistic Support Ship, Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) and Landing Craft Tank (LCT), Mr. Köse added that the preparations as part of the floating dock program were completed and are ready to be presented to the Defense Industry Executive Committee. Mr. Köse also shared that crucial developments emerged regarding the Logistic Support Ship Projects and added, “The Seismic Research Vessel” built for the Mineral Research and Exploration Institute (MTA), the MTA “Oruç Reis” and MOSHIP- Submarine Rescue Mother Ship TCG “Alemdar” ships were delivered to the related purchasing authorities. Currently, only the test activities of the Rescue and Towing TCG “Akın” ship continue. We planned to deliver it in October, but we faced a slight delay, so we expect to deliver it within November.”

Mentioning that the proposal evaluation process of the Research Ship was also completed, Mr. Köse added that the activities concerning the Fleet Replenishment and Support Vessel will also be completed within November, and that the proposal evaluation process considering the Multiple Purpose Open Seas Trailer Project was launched under the auspices of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries.

 

SSM Naval Platforms Department Head Mr. Alper Köse: “We will present the MILGEM-İ Class Frigate Procurement Project to the Defense Industry Executive Committee depending on the developments in the Main Propulsion System Procurement” 

Within the scope of the Battleship Projects, proposal evaluation of MILGEM-I class, procurement of the main propulsion system, vertical launching system and Preveze “Barbaros” class semi-modernization projects constitute most of our workload. As far as we know, the renewal and modernization project of our Preveze “Barbaros” class vessels were presented to our esteemed Prime Minister. As part of the semi-modernization of these vessels, we will negotiate with STM, Havelsan and Aselsan. By coordinating these negotiations with the Naval Forces Command, we wish to launch these modernization and retrofit activities. We completed the tender related with the vessel regarding the MILGEM-I class frigates, and depending on the developments considering the main propulsion system, we will present both issues to the executive committee.”

 

Turkish Naval Forces to Change the Balance in the Region with MILGEM-I Class Frigates 

MILGEM-I Class Frigate will be equipped with 16-cell MK-41 Vertical Launching System,64 ESSM Missile, Sixteen Harpoon Block II Anti-Ship Missiles or unique designed “Atmaca” Anti-Ship Missile. In addition, the network-enabled GENESIS ADVENT combat management system is planned to be integrated into the MILGEM-I Class Frigate. The envisaged additional three ships to be constructed by the private sector shipyards are scheduled to be inaugurated respectively in 2022, 2023 and 2024.

Design Phase Starts with TF-2000 Project

Following the extraordinary contribution to be acquired by the MILGEM-I Class Frigates to the Naval Forces Command, the design activities concerning the long-awaited TF-2000 Anti-Air Warfare Frigate are scheduled to be launched soon. During his presentation as part of the seminar, SSM Naval Platforms Department Head Mr. Alper Köse said: “We will soon launch the tender for the design of the TF-2000, currently we are completing our preparations.” Mr. Köse also shared the activities accomplished as part of the other Battleship Projects with the participants. “Within the scope of the Boats group; New Type Patrol Boat, Fast Patrol Boat Contracts have already signed. The Contracts of the Emergency Rescue and Diver Boat were signed on 13th October and the New Type SAT and Fast Patrol Boat contracts were signed on October 6th. Our activities in respect to the Turkish Type Assault Boat and Oil Carrier are underway.”

Mr. Alper Köse stated that projects such as the Harbor Tug Boat, Landing Craft Air Cushion, Unique Design Submarine Conceptual Design, Search and Rescue Boat, Minesweeper Coastal, New Type LCT, 600 Class Coast Guard Boat will be brought to the agenda.

 

Global Market for Military Vessels Reaches $838 billion 

SSM Naval Platforms Department Head Mr. Alper Köse shared valuable information with participants about the current status of world’s Military Vessel industry and about the future path for the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries. Mr. Köse: “We presume that the worldwide military vessel market size will attain $838 billion by the year 2032. Patrol Boats make up the largest share in this figure and they are followed by Amphibious Vessels and Submarine Platforms. There is a crucial market in the Military Vessel Industry of the world and we, as Turkey, wish to reinforce our position in this market.”

Underlining that one or two companies stand out in each country when global ship industry establishments are analyzed, Mr. Köse added, “Many of the shipyards in our country currently constitute the backbone of the sector with various competencies. We believe that there is also a need for a joint synergy and cooperation in our country. We support our companies in order to increase our exports. We prefer our companies to unite towards becoming a worldwide brand and we also expect our shipyards to achieve the required infrastructure in respect to logistic support.  Amongst our primary objectives is having companies that are open to international cooperation, that have a highly qualified workforce, that adopt a differentiation system putting the design and engineering capabilities to the forefront, and that manufacture critical systems, sub systems and equipment.” 

 

Which Technologies will Stand out in the Operation Fields of the Future?

Mr. Köse noted that by taking the eight different reports of the Naval Forces Command as a reference, they projected that Wide Area Reconnaissance Surveillance, Sensor Networks, Laser Weapons, Electromagnetic Defense Systems, Unmanned Systems, New Generation Sonar System Suites, Cyber Defense and Network Enabled Systems will stand out in the operation environment of the future and continued, “The projections of the Naval Forces are fully compatible with the strategies of NATO. According to NATO’s Future Alliance report, Advanced Fire Power, Advanced Electromagnetic Protection Systems, New Generation Network Enabled Command Control, Advanced Decision Support and Information Systems, Unmanned Systems operating in flocks will define the operational environment of the future.” 

Stating that Turkey had deficiencies in the Main Propulsion and Drive Systems of Naval Platform Systems and noting that there is a foreign dependency in this area, Mr. Köse said, “We wish to overcome this deficiency as soon as possible. We own capabilities in combat management systems but as a whole, our capabilities do not constitute integrity. We must form systems that will contribute to the industry through gathering our institutions such as Havelsan, Aselsan, MilSOFT and TÜBİTAK. We also need to improve ourselves in areas of integrated platforms and monitoring systems, surface and submarine vehicles and composite material.”

 

MSB Shipyards Deputy Director General Rear Admiral Mehmet Sarı: “We will launch the construction of the 3rd Ship’s Hull within the scope of the New Type Submarine Program”

In his opening remark, Ministry of Defense (MSB) Shipyard’s Deputy Director General Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Mehmet Sarı extended to participants critical information on the tasks and responsibilities of the newly established Shipyards Directorate, its structure and the executed projects. Rear Admiral Sarı said, “As the Shipyards Directorate, we are working in coordination with the Naval Forces Technical Department and Logistics Department. İstanbul, Gölcük and İzmir shipyards are affiliated with our Directorate and we have 6500 personnel. We have been conducting the MILGEM project at the İstanbul shipyard. The tests of the 3rd  vessel continue while the 1st and 2nd vessels have been commissioned. The Hull of the 4th vessel was completed, and its outfitting activities are ongoing at full speed. We are working in close and effective cooperation with the design project office in lieu with the Technical Command and with the Research Center Command. We launched the National Submarine (MILDEN) Project in 2004 with the contributions of the project office. On the other hand, the construction activities of the 6 New Type Submarines with Air Independent Propulsion Systems, which we carry out jointly with Germany, continue at full speed. The construction of the 3rd submarine’s hull will start soon. We wish to hold the ceremony with the participation of our Minister of Defense. Our private shipyards have crucial design and construction know-how regarding battleships. Whereas, regarding submarine construction, our shipyard at Gölcük is the only shipyard in Turkey that has this expert know-how. We exert efforts in order to gain a more comprehensive capability in this regard.” 

Underlining that regarding the MILGEM-I Class tender, all requirements set forth by the Naval Forces Command were quite clear, Rear Admiral Sarı said, “All issues regarding the Command Control Combat Management Systems became clear, we are only waiting for the main propulsion to be clarified.”

 

Technical Commander of the Naval Forces Command, Rear Admiral Ahmet Çakır: “We accomplished the first test fire of the Atmaca Anti-Ship Missile which will replace the Harpoon Missile”

Technical Commander of the Naval Forces Command, Rear Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Ahmet Çakır stated that in the last fifteen years Turkey has been achieving unique products within global standards in system and sub-system areas, in addition to Military Ship design and construction, and he added: “We accomplished essential developments in sensor technologies. We covered an amazing path in the area of guided munition. The development and manufacturing of weapon systems with superior technology is not a dream anymore. We are working on achieving the manufacturing of a Multifunction, Phased Array Radar System (ÇAFRAD) relatively soon and to integrate it to the Anti-Air Warfare Frigate. Similarly, we assess that we have passed significant milestones in respect to sonar technologies. We seized the opportunity to closely observe the capabilities of our companies in this area at the recent submarine workshop; our companies are keeping up with the latest high-tech sonar technologies in the world. They introduced their projects and these developments pleased us greatly. On the other hand, the point we reached in the guided missile area heralds that our country will be one of the leader countries in this area as well. The first firing test of the ‘Atmaca’ project was accomplished. We will be conducting the launching tests of the ship platforms within next year. Today, we aim to render the ‘Atmaca’ Anti-Ship Missile intended to replace the Harpoon Missile with superior capabilities and longer ranges compared with the existing munitions.”

 

Technical Commander of the Naval Forces Command, Rear Admiral Ahmet Çakır: “We expect our companies to unite their power and competencies in system and sub-system technologies”

Technical Commander of the Navy, Rear Admiral Çakır mentioned that the system and sub-system capabilities achieved by the Turkish Naval Construction Industry please them and said that all companies active in this area need to operate together also by touching upon the importance of the efficient utilization of the limited resources. Rear Admiral Çakır said, “When we launched the MILGEM project, there were only 2 radar manufacturers in the world, this number increased to 5 throughout the project and 3 of them were Turkish companies. Unfortunately, these companies failed to unite in collaboration and as a result of such competition some of our companies were excluded and they failed to receive the outputs of their investments. We observe in the world that companies operating in this area join their forces through merging or acquisitions or through forming consortiums. The R&D, marketing, finance and human resources need to be planned and implemented within global standards. At this point, I would like to underline once again the importance of the guidance and structuring of the industry by our Undersecretariat for Defense Industries.” 

“We see and hear that higher prices compared to ones offered by European manufacturers are being given particularly in electronic systems. This causes the main contractors to make proposals with European originated systems instead of preferring unique domestic systems and in the end our country suffers. This type of behavior reduces both the competitiveness of the Main Contractor and the technological products of our system provider domestic companies experience difficulties in finding a place in international markets. In new projects, preferring the products of different companies including foreign companies with merely the concern of costs, instead of domestic companies with certificates of systems that completed the certification processes, damages our domestic companies while narrowing their visions.”

Pointing out that the utilization of numerous platforms by similar systems was essential in respect to the cost efficiency of the supply support and lifecycle management of the platforms, Rear Admiral Çakır added, “Utilization of various systems by different platforms will cause both an increase in the spare part stocks and significant  problems in the logistical procurement processes while bringing an additional financial burden to our country.”

Underlining that at least a 15-20 year-long projection should be established regarding the development activities of the Sensor Systems, Weapon Systems, Command Control Systems and Electronic Warfare Systems, Rear Admiral Çakır continued: “Within this vision we need to utilize our resources in a limited manner, we have to manage the development processes well. Some of our development projects are merely based on platforms, but we should revise this, and within the identified road map we should integrate the products to the constructed platforms when they are ready for utilization. We need to provide a standardization at this point.  Our top priority should be acquiring the superior technologies for our country that will increase the added value, the critical technologies that are indigenous. Then again, as I mentioned previously, following the execution of the long term national development projects independent from the execution of the Military Ship construction projects and the technological level of the products reaching to acceptable levels, their adaptation to the ongoing ship construction projects would be the most suitable solution.”

 

Rear Admiral Ahmet Çakır: “We assess that our shipyards that are heading for foreign partners will be more appropriate within the scope of the TF-2000 Project to minimize risks” 

Stating that the Naval Forces Command will continue to support and contribute to the realization of military projects in private sector shipyards, Rear Admiral Çakır continued, “Within this process, it is of great importance that the accomplishment of the design and integration of the components with high combat effectiveness will be constructed for the first time by the project design office of the Naval Forces Command through maximum utilization of the facilities.  The Naval Forces will be in charge of the design and performance, building the first vessels in military shipyards then after testing and trial processes the construction of the consecutive ships in private sector shipyards will proceed. We assess that this will be the most effective solution in respect to developing the experiences acquired through the design and construction of national ships, promoting the sustainability of this capability and maximizing the utilization of the domestic resources.”

Underscoring that when this method is not implemented in projects with high costs, such as with the Anti-Air Warfare Frigate, the risk costs will be too high and that the private sectors will go through great risks in a technical sense especially in cases where all processes including the assignment of design and integration to the private shipyards, Rear Admiral Çakır said, “In order to minimize the risks, we assess that our shipyards can participate in tenders with foreign partners and go for proven foreign designs. If we think of the $3.5-4 billion budget of the TF- 2000 project, we do not assume that the existing ship construction industry will take this risk.”

 Naval Forces Technical Commander Rear Admiral Ahmet Çakır said that the support they had provided so far toward the development of the national defense industry in coordination with the SSM will increasingly continue in the upcoming future and that they will keep on giving complete support to the defense industry companies including testing the indigenously developed systems in the platforms. Rear Admiral Ahmet Çakır continued, “However, the risks to a battleship in operation, caused by the integration of systems that are technologically insufficient, are known by all of us. I presume that we are all aware that our Naval Forces Command will not take such risks under the circumstances endured by our country except for very special conditions.  The development and manufacturing of indigenous national systems in the upcoming period and their preference by the world and the Turkish navy is our most fundamental wish.”

In his opening remark, the Undersecretary for Defense Industries Prof. İsmail Demir noted that 20% of a naval platform consists of the ship construction activities and the remaining 80% is composed of Combat Management Systems, Weapon Systems and Various Integrated Systems and added: “When we take the system and sub systems of a naval platform into consideration, this goes beyond the responsibility area of merely a shipyard or the Naval Forces Command. Here, we are speaking of a very complex concept such as the integration of the Air Defense Systems, Command Control Systems and Combat Management Systems over the platform. We attach great importance to the integration of the Turkish Defense Industry’s experiences and capabilities to the platforms. Today, the level of competence reached both by our industry and the Turkish Naval Forces is a source of pride.” 

Pointing out that they need to make crucial moves in the sales of naval platforms to foreign countries, Prof. Demir continued: “With 170 items, speed boats are our most important export item within the naval platforms. Considering the vessels of great sizes, we only take part in the Fleet Replenishment Ship program under construction and installation in Pakistan and with some various modernization programs. We are not able to show a single address to the question of which institution, company or enterprise should be the one to market the MILGEM platform which is the leading platform as part of our marketing and introduction activities. STM company seems to be the leader considering this subject. Then again, comparable to the foreign countries, we need an admiral ship, an enterprise like the maritime sectors of other countries.” 

Stressing upon the fact that there are numerous shipyards active in the construction of civil and military ships in Turkey, Prof. Demir said, “Presently, we have 7-8 private shipyards only at the Tuzla region. The capacity of the sector is not big enough to feed all these shipyards, besides when the exports are considered, we face certain bad examples from time to time. Our companies sometimes give proposals to the same project in the same country, as a regulating and coordinating institution we do not wish to have a structure in which the companies block each other. We prefer the establishment of an encouraging structure that forms synergy and provides support to each other in international markets. Without doubt, the support provided from our system supplier companies and enterprises to this structure within the ship construction industry and their establishment of a competitive structure is essential. When we place a bid to a platform in a foreign country, our system provider companies have to offer cost efficient prices so that we could become more competitive in the tenders realized abroad.”

 

Undersecretary for Defense Industries Prof. İsmail Demir: “From now on Developing Cost-Efficient unique Systems regarding the Defense Industry will be one of our Priorities” 

Underscoring that until today they primarily aimed to develop unique technologies technologies in the projects conducted in Turkey, Undersecretary for Defense Industries Prof. İsmail Demir said to that end they failed to focus on the costs and added: “From now on, we will handle the cost analysis issue more delicately. Exports are quite essential for building a sustainable industry, if we fail to conduct sales to foreign countries we will end up with expensive unique systems and therefore we will face obstacles in the development and sustainability of the products as well.” 

Stating that Naval Forces made crucial contributions to the development of the industry, Prof. Demir assessed that an establishment in charge of identifying the requirements, managing the design and construction processes of the requirements and conducting the acceptance and controls would not last long and added: “Even if the role of the Naval Forces is undeniable and essential in these processes, we need to find ways to execute this role in a more integrated fashion. Reinforcing the internal structuring of the industry and establishing a more long-lasting structure are of vital importance.”  

Touching upon the importance of planning throughout the development process of the Indigenous Systems, Prof. İsmail Demir said, “We have to increase our coordination with the Naval Forces Command so that we can have the foresight to identify future needs 10-20 years ahead and to launch the studies toward developing national systems of the future.” 

Following the opening remarks, presentations of the sponsor companies commenced. Throughout these sessions, STM Combat Systems Manager Mr. Enver Küçükerman on behalf of STM Company made a presentation entitled “A General Overview of the STM Submarine Projects and Submarine Projects”. Naval Systems Group Head of Aselsan which is one of the sponsor companies of the event, Mr. Behçet Karataş made a presentation entitled “The Naval System Solutions of Today and Tomorrow.”

 During the second half of the day, the technical presentations of the sponsor companies were given in parallel sessions. The event in which 48 presentations were accomplished lasted two days and ended with the noteworthy participation of the military and defense industry officials. 

The 9th Naval Systems Seminar is scheduled to be held on 7-8 October 2019 at the METU Cultural and Conventional Center in Ankara