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Final Test-Firings of the Indigenous ATMACA Anti-Ship Missile Conducted Successfully

Under the ATMACA Surface-to-Surface Guided Missile Project, which was launched on May 8, 2009, to domestically meet the Turkish Naval Forces Command`s needs for a new generation anti-ship missile (AShM), the last two guided test-firings of the ATMACA missile from the TCG Kınalıada Corvette with a telemetry system and a live warhead was successfully conducted on February 3-4, 2021, off the coast of Sinop in the Black Sea region before its expected delivery in 2021. These launches were also recorded as the 2nd and 3rd guided test-firings of the ATMACA Guided Anti-Ship Missile from a naval platform.

February 04, 2021

During the telemetry test performed on February 3 in the Black Sea, northeast of Sinop, the ATMACA Anti-ship missile was fired from a 4-cell launcher (similar to Mk-141) placed on the port side of the TCG Kınalıada Corvette and successfully scored a hit on the Roketsan made platform, which imitates a surface target. On February 4, 2021, the second launch test was carried out against a similar Roketsan made platform target with the ATMACA Anti-ship missile using a live warhead, and this time, the target was also destroyed successfully. With the last live firing test, the effectiveness of the ATMACA missile's warhead was also tested for the first time. Both launches from the TCG Kınalıada Corvette were monitored live by the test measurement equipment at the Sinop Missile Test Range (such as radar systems and high-speed cameras that can measure the missile's trajectory and speed) and from the air by a UAV (Call Sign: Cenah 2) using the Star Safire 380 HLD FLIR. President of Defence Industries İsmail Demir announced the tests on his official social media account and congratulated everyone involved for the successful test. "Our first indigenous anti-ship missile ATMACA successfully destroyed the target after fired from our national ship TCG Kınalıada. I congratulate everyone who contributed. Godspeed to our Heroic Navy!" President DEMİR also shared a short video of the test-fires performed on February 3 and February 4 between 14:00 and 14:30. In the video recorded by the UAV flying at an altitude of 18,129ft, the passive ranging maneuver performed by the ATMACA missile at the terminal stage before hitting the platform type target can be clearly seen (during the firing test conducted on February 4).

TCG Kınalıada Corvette, which performed the launches, sailed to the Black Sea by passing through the Bosporus at around 9:40 on the evening of January 23, 2021. In fact, I was expecting the decommissioned TCG IŞIN (A-589) to be used as the target ship at the live firing test. Prior to the firing test planned for August 30 last year, the decommissioned IŞIN was pulled to Sinop by TCG Alemdar (A-582) on August 27, 2020, to be used as the target ship. However, due to an undisclosed reason, this test was canceled at the last minute.

The first controlled flight test with the ATMACA Anti-Ship Missile was performed in 2016. Later in parallel with the maturation of the design and the product, three different guided firing tests were conducted with the prototypes of the ATMACA Surface-to-Surface Guided Missile (I believe guided test missiles were equipped with dummy warheads, not with live warheads) in 2019, on May, September 18, and November 3, respectively, in which different features and attack concepts/profiles were tested. While the previous firing tests were carried out toward the Black Sea from a land-based launcher at the Sinop Missile Test Range, the first Naval Launch Test was conducted with the ATMACA Anti-Ship Missile on the morning of November 3, 2019. The guided firing tests using prototype missiles without live warheads were carried out against a fixed floating net target fitted with a radar reflector (orange object). Within the scope of the ATMACA Surface-to-Surface Missile Project, only two guided flight tests were announced to the public in 2020. In the 17th issue of Roketsan Magazine, published in July 2020, it was stated that during the guided firing test carried out from the Sinop Missile Test Range toward the Black Sea on July 1, 2020, the ATMACA Guided Missile performed all its functions correctly and approached the target 200+ km away with the sea-skimming mode and successfully hit the target by attacking with a pop-up maneuver (it has been claimed that the target was deployed at the furthest distance to date at 220km). Since multiple waypoints are defined instead of a straight-line during flight/firing tests, a route similar to diamond is followed in the NOTAMed test area. As each waypoint (depending on its angle) reduces the total range of the missile from 4 nm (nautical miles) to 17 nm, for example, when two waypoints are defined, the total distance traveled is actually around 60 nm even though the missile flies 75 nm. Since a diamond flight pattern has been defined for the guided flight test, the ATMACA missile must have followed at least 4 or 5 waypoints, which means that the total range is reduced by an average of 60-70km. Technically, since the ATMACA missile cannot follow so many waypoints and strike from the maximum range, either the announced 220km is the direct flight distance to the target or the maximum range of the ATMACA missile actually reaches 280-300km.

However, in the video shared by the SSB, it was seen that the ATMACA missile skimmed the surface and approached the target from a very low altitude (only a few meters above the water level) and fell into the sea immediately after hitting the radar reflector on the floating target (possibly due to the maximum range). The guided flight test on July 1, 2020, also has great importance in terms of being the first flight test in which the ATMACA missile engaged a new target by updating its mission in-flight via the Data Link. According to the article on page 8 of the 17th issue of Roketsan Magazine, within the scope of the aforementioned guided flight test, where the ATMACA missile is aimed to successfully follow the flight route with the help of its inertial navigation system (INS) and hit the target, the ATMACA missile, which performs pre-launch mission planning and firing with its Fire Control System, was directed to a new target with the mission update transmitted over the data link during the flight (however, no information was shared in the article if the data link used during the test is KEMENT Data Link). ATMACA Missile is one step ahead of other anti-ship guided missiles in the market with this feature and has proven that it is ready to serve as the protector of our seas, considering the images of it scoring a direct hit with perfect accuracy recorded by the cameras on the target.

On August 30, 2020, another ATMACA anti-ship missile launch test was planned. In this context, a NOTAM was issued between August 29 and September 5, 2020, restricting an area off Sinop by land and sea for missile firing, and the decommissioned TCG IŞIN (A-589) was pulled to the Black Sea to be used as the target ship. However, due to an undisclosed reason, this test was canceled at the last minute.

On September 28, 2020, in an electronic warfare environment scenario mimicking real combat conditions with electronic and GPS jamming, a guided firing test was carried out with ATMACA Anti-Ship Missile toward the Black Sea from a land-based 4-cell launcher similar to Mk-141, which was placed at the Sinop Missile Test Range. In accordance with the scenario, ATMACA Missile successfully hit the surface test target during the test with its onboard Inertial Navigation System (INS) and GPS-free limited navigation support. President of Defence Industries İsmail DEMİR described this test as the penultimate firing test of the ATMACA Missile. At the press breakfast held at Roketsan's Lalahan facilities on September 29, 2020, Roketsan Chairman of the Board Faruk YİĞİT, Roketsan CEO Murat İKİNCİ, and President of Defence Industries İsmail DEMİR stated that the project is nearing completion, and they expected the serial production activities to start in the near future. During the "Evaluation of 2020 and 2021 Projection Meeting" held on January 11, 2021, the President of Defence Industries İsmail DEMİR announced that the first deliveries under Turkey's first national Anti-Ship Missile ATMACA and AKYA National Heavyweight Torpedo Projects would begin in 2021. In addition, Roketsan CEO Murat İKİNCİ gave technical information about the firing test at the press breakfast where Defence Turkey Magazine was also present and said: "This test was actually based on a scenario involving the test of ATMACA under the most challenging conditions. It was able to find and hit the surface target precisely from a quite considerable distance with only its own internal inertial navigation (INS) system, completely independent of GPS. This was an indication that ATMACA was able to hit the target with its very limited navigation capability even in environments where Electronic Warfare was very intense!”

You will find the more detailed version of this article in our 105th issue.