Ankara has announced plans for an ambitious project to build its submarine fleet this week at a time when Turkey’s defence deals with its Western allies are under the spotlight, Defense News reported on Wednesday.
The increasingly independent foreign policy pursued by Turkey’s Justice and Development Party government has been a constant source of unease among Western allies in recent years, but President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed to continue pursuing his policy goals and has greatly increased domestic defence manufacturing since coming to power.
Turkey’s ambitious submarine project, formally unveiled on Tuesday, is named MiLDEN, an acronym meaning “Milli Denizalti” or “national submarine,” and comes at a time when Turkish defense deals have been under close scrutiny.
European Union countries including France and Germany announced decisions to suspend new defence export licences to Turkey after Ankara launched a military offensive in northern Syria on Oct. 9.
Meanwhile, the United States suspended Turkey’s participation to a joint production program to build F-35 stealth fighter jets, after Turkey started receiving delivery of Russian S-400 defence systems in July.
Deputy General Director of Shipyards of the Ministry of National Defence, Rear Admiral Mehmet Sarı, announced the national submarine project MİLDEN on Tuesday, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was in the Russian Black Sea town of Sochi for talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over the situation in northern Syria.
The two leaders struck a deal that ended Turkey’ military offensive in northern Syria, but Erdoğan said after the meeting that they had also discussed strengthening cooperation in defence projects.
Turkey is the owner of the second-largest submarine fleet in NATO, with 12 submarines all based on the German Type-209 family. Six more are expected from Germany before the Turkish-built submarines can be delivered, Defense News said.
The first Turkish submarines will be copies of the German designs, which feature silent cruising capabilities, guided missiles and torpedoes, according to Defense News