Turkey: The Great leap forward in power projection
In a few weeks, the new Landing Platform Dock (LPD) of the Turkish Navy, the TCG Anadolu, will be operational in the Turkish Navy. This event will shed light on three major breakthroughs:
--From doctrine to reality:
Besides being the mothership of the Navy, the future LPD will be the first projection ship of the force. As Mr. Ismail Demir, Chairman of the SSB, said during the press event on September 17 in Tuzla, the LPD will be able to transport one fully-equipped battalion everywhere in the Turkish sphere of influence (Aegean Sea, Eastern Mediterranean, Black Sea and even to Indian Ocean).
Albeit being presented as a ship serving NATO’s operations, no doubt it will essentially be used to implement the ‘blue homeland’ doctrine (Mavi Vatan, in Turkish), described in 2008 by Admiral Yayci, former Chief of the Navy, a doctrine confirmed and supported by the Naval modernization planning in 2015; Designed for force & power projection, it can, thanks to its 4 LCTs, beach, 110 vehicles, including heavy tanks such as the MIA1. These MBTs are stored on two decks.
With a surface area of 1.410 m², the first, reinforced, overlooks the apron while the second (1.880 m²) is located on the upper level, in the extension of the helicopter hangar. The two decks are connected by an elevator with a capacity of more than 16 tons, sized in particular to accommodate 20-foot containers.
Başkanımız @IsmailDemirSSB, beraberindeki heyetle birlikte Sedef Tersanesinde üretilen ve deniz kabul testleri süren TCG ANADOLU gemisini ziyaret etti.#İstiklâlveİstikbâlimizİçin pic.twitter.com/vUQxLnRvQs— SSB (@SavunmaSanayii) September 18, 2022
SSB President @IsmailDemirSSB visited the TCG ANADOLU ship, which was produced in Sedef Shipyard and whose sea acceptance tests are ongoing.
The LPD will also be equipped with an onboard hospital with 30 beds and two operating blocks, enabling it to provide the needed support for a force during an operation or to participate in humanitarian missions.
Deprived of its F-35s, the TCG Anadolu will be, by default, the first naval ship to project reconnaissance and combat drones such as the the Bayraktar TB3 combat drone, currently under development as a heavy variant of the Bayraktar TB2, and the Kızılelma, a mixt between a combat aircraft and a combat drone, equipped with an arresting gear, and planned for being operational in 2023 for the centenary of the Turkish Republic (October, 29, 2023).
If the Turkish LPD is the result of a design contract with the Spanish shipyard Navantia and local industry, it nevertheless incorporates 70% local production and design: Sedef shipyard in Tuzla, Aselsan and Havelsan for its combat, information and distribution systems, electronic warfare, weapon systems.
The contract between the former SSM (now SSB) and the Spanish shipyard Navantia for the design assistance of the LPD (with 4 landing craft LCM 1 E), has been signed in May 2015, and entered into force with the €21m down payment being made on September 18 of the same year.
Navantia, in addition to its design role, is associated with Aydin Yazilim ve Elektronik Sanayii (AYESAS) to develop the Ship’s CMS.
The Hürjet, an advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft, developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries, will also be deployed, alongside Cobra, T29 and utility helicopters.
All in all, the LPD will showcase the capability of the Turkish defence industry to design, produce and support nearly all Naval key-systems for large Ships. Navantia and the SSB have entered into negotiation for a larger LPD.
Greece: a new military map is being drafted
On the opposite side, Greece is making remarkable leaps forward too. One of the consequences of the renewal of the Greek-American agreement (or MDCA) is the strengthening and updating of the U.S military presence, which will draw a new and revolutionary military map in Europe.
--In Crete, the base in Souda Bay will be modernized to accommodate drones and F-35s, locking down the Aegean Sea under U.S keys;
--In Thessaly, the extension of the Larissa air base will enable to control both the Aegean Sea and the Ionian Sea;
--In Thrace, Alexandroupolis will be the major new U.S and NATO base with the setting-up a radar station to monitor the entire region (to Syria); this radar station will be linked to the mother station on the island of Samothrace, thus creating a dense network to monitor all of military activities in the region, from Turkey, Russia and Middle East.
Thrilled to see Black Summit and Quintana Infrastructure and Development place bids on the strategic port of Alexandroupoli. These US companies are committed to building sustainable economic opportunities in Greece, benefitting both our economies. USGR a partnership for success. pic.twitter.com/3HBS7ZedGJ— George J. Tsunis (@USAmbassadorGR) September 23, 2022
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has reinforced this Greek-American strategy drafted before: in the last seven months, indeed, Alexandroupolis has proven to be a reliable alternative to the closed Bosphorus Straits.
But the plans go further than a simple development of a transit centre to go to Bulgaria or Romania: the new military map completely bypasses Turkey, whose irrational attitude will go crescendo with the Turkish internal elections of June 18 2023, which will precede the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish republic on the following October 29.
The expansion of the port of Alexandroupolis will allow American ATBM destroyers to call as they do at La Rota in Spain;
The expansion of the base's infrastructure will serve as a logistics centre (equipment, ammunition, fuel, etc.) for all the countries in the region: the West-East axis with, to the East, the Balkans (where the United States monitors Serbia, protecting its Kosovar ally) and the West (monitoring Turkey), the North-South axis to serve its allies: Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Baltic countries, by another route than Germany.
Step by step, the American strategy seems to supplant Turkey as an ally in the region, by finding alternative routes and storage: this reflects at least an increased mistrust of Washington towards Ankara. Surrounded by U.S bases, deprived of its F-35s and even threatened in its F-16 modernization program, Turkey has no choice but to launch itself into an escalation of violently anti-Greek remarks and reinforced violations of Greek territory. No surprise if the head of the Greek diplomacy, Mr. Dendias, spends so much time abroad to build a coalition of loyal allies (France, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, India, and elsewhere).