Turkey continues to actively build up its military power. President Erdoğan intends to reinforce his “imperial” plans not only with the second strongest army in NATO, but also with a modern navy, which should give Ankara the maximum opportunity to “project” its geopolitical will at the desired point on the map. For this purpose, Turkey is going to build its second aircraft carrier.
Thanks to its aggressive foreign policy, “Sultan” Erdogan has made many enemies in the Eastern Mediterranean and seriously complicated relations with Russia in the Black Sea. To deter potential adversaries, Ankara is actively building up its battle fleet.
In particular, Turkey has localized the production of the German Type 214 submarines developed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW). Each such submarine with an air-independent propulsion system (AIP) has an autonomy of 84 days and is capable of diving to a depth of 400 meters. The Type 214TN (Turkish Navy) joint project consists of 80% Turkish-made components, with the remaining 20% being German propulsion and fuel elements to be shipped from Germany. The first in the series, the Piri Reis, has already been launched, and by 2022 there will be six more in service. If we add to them thirteen more, which were previously purchased from Germany, it turns out quite an impressive force, which will have to reckon with our Russian Navy and the neighbors in the Eastern Mediterranean.
But the main confirmation of Ankara’s “imperial” ambitions is the construction of an aircraft carrier. The “Sultan” Erdogan announced this back in 2016:
After the creation of the amphibious ship, Turkey will be able to build a domestic aircraft carrier. And we will build it. The Turkish Armed Forces will have its own aircraft carrier. We will achieve that. There are no obstacles in that direction.
By the way, Turkey already has its own aircraft carrier, the “amphibious ship”, as Recep Erdogan called it, or the Anadolu multi-purpose landing ship. Technically, it is a copy of the Spanish amphibious aircraft carrier Juan Carlos I. The latter, in turn, is conceptually similar to the U.S. Universal Landing Craft of the Wasp type. The displacement of the Turkish light aircraft carrier is 27,7 thousand tons. It can carry 12 American F-35 fighters and 12 NHI NH90 attack helicopters, and also Anka or Bayraktar UAVs. Since it is technically a landing ship, the Anadolu will be able to transport up to 500 Marines, as well as 46 tanks, or 77 wheeled armored vehicles. It was launched in 2019.
Such a tool for “projecting” Turkish power, for example, in Libya or on the disputed Greek islands. Or anywhere else, already on the Black Sea. Since on paper, it is not an aircraft carrier, but a UDC, Anadolu can easily pass through the Dardanelles and the Bosporus. And now a full-fledged aircraft carrier is also planned. It is not known yet what project it will be built under, with what propulsion system, and what aircraft it will carry. After the exclusion of F-35 from the program, Turkey had difficulties with the latter, which, probably, will be resolved under the new administration in Washington.
It is not ruled out that the Americans or the British will help Ankara with the construction of its full-value aircraft carrier. The growing appetite of the Turks in the Eastern Mediterranean worries many, but NATO will obviously not mind if their ally has deck-based aircraft in the Black Sea to deter Russia. President Erdoğan may be able to circumvent the Montreux Convention’s restrictions on the entry of ships of this class by building the Istanbul bypass canal.