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Turkey unveils its first intelligence-gathering ship

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech as he attends the commissioning ceremony of test and training ship TCG Ufuk at Istanbul Maritime Shipyard in Istanbul, Turkiye on January 14, 2022 [Murat Kula / Anadolu Agency]
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, Turkey on January 14, 2022 [Murat Kula / Anadolu Agency]

Turkey has developed its own intelligence-gathering ship in a move that that could see its maritime and intelligence capabilities increase significantly.

In a delivery ceremony at Istanbul's Shipyard yesterday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the unveiling of the TCG Ufuk (A-591), which was dubbed as "Turkey's ears and eyes at sea."

The Ufuk, meaning 'horizon', can cruise continuously for 45 days and is designed for use in signal and electronic intelligence missions (SIGINT/ELINT) and will be at the service of the security forces and run by Turkey's National Intelligence Organisation (MIT).

The main contractor of the vessel's development is the prominent Turkish company STM, with its command control, electronic systems, and test and training system equipment provided by the defence firm Aselsan. Through its advanced systems, the ship will be able to collect data both at sea and on land surrounding it.

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Erdogan hailed the ship as a significant stride in the nation's ship-building capabilities, stating that "Turkey is currently among the 10 nations in the world that can design, build and carry out maintenance of warships."

It is also tied in with Ankara's general expansion of its domestic arms industry, with Erdogan expressing the aim to increase arms exports to $4 billion this year and revealing that 180 naval platforms have already been exported to 25 different countries.

"We now produce vertical launch systems and will use them in three incoming new corvettes," the president said. "We will strengthen our navy further with locally produced radars, and war management systems."

The vessel has reportedly been in production since 2019, and according to the defence and naval researcher Kozan Selcuk Erkan who spoke to the Turkish press last year, many countries lack the technology that the TCG Ufuk possesses. "Other than US, Russia, China, France, Sweden, Germany, Norway and UK, there aren't many navies that have the same capability," Erkan said.

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