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Beyond the Blue Homeland

by MSI

You can read the analysis published in the May 2019 Issue of MSI Turkish Defence Review here:


Erhan ŞENSOY / erhan.sensoy@pem.com.tr

The construction of the ANADOLU Multi-purpose Amphibious Assault Ship (Landing Helicopter Dock / LHD) is proceeding according to schedule, while the aircraft with a vertical/short take-off and landing (V/STOL) capability that is planned to be deployed aboard has been receiving broad media coverage.

The purpose of this article is to share the force multiplier effect of the V/STOL aircraft that are planned to be deployed aboard our LHD class ships, and to explain the reasons why it is necessary to acquire such a capability, without discussing tactical details.

The Navy is one of the three main forces that make up the Military Power of a country and is a significant factor in its National Power, and is the essence of national defence, ensuring the survival of the country. In general, the role of the Navy in times of peace is to support our national policy in regions in which we have national interests, and at an international level far beyond our borders. In times of war, its mission is to use all the necessary sea domain to prevent any actions by the enemy against our homeland and to protect our maritime interests and benefits.

In this context, an advanced Navy, in terms of technology, training, logistics and personnel, is the most important instrument of diplomacy and combat for the future, as has always been the case in the past.

A Navy that is sufficiently equipped with all kinds of technological innovations is a necessity for a sea-dependent country such as Turkey, given the fact that 88 percent of its foreign trade is transported by sea, and that approximately 75,000 ships enter its ports every year. Failure to respond to this need may lead to the interruption not only of the military aspect of our national power, but also the economic side.

A Navy is, by its very nature, the most active force in the international arena , and is of vital importance for the survival of sea-dependent countries such as Turkey. Its most important feature in this regard is its ability to serve for long periods in remote locations. For this reason, a qualified Navy should carry advanced weapons and equipment so that while supporting our national policy and diplomacy in the international arena during peacetime, it can also ensure we have a say in world politics, can represent all of our cultural and technological qualifications, and can take part in operations as a deterrent to potential hostiles.

ANADOLU, which is being built within the scope of the Multi-Purpose Amphibious Assault Ship project, is developed on the design of the LHD ship, “Juan Carlos I” (L-61) of the Spanish Navy. The Turkish Navy has already participated in military exercises with this ship. This photograph shows TCG GOKCEADA (F-494), which operated between May 19 and June 23, 2017 under the Standing NATO Maritime Group-2 (SNMG-2), carrying out a Replenishment at Sea (RAS) with the LHD “Juan Carlos I” (L-61) on June 5, 2017.

ANADOLU, which is being built within the scope of the Multi-Purpose Amphibious Assault Ship project, is developed on the design of the LHD ship, “Juan Carlos I” (L-61) of the Spanish Navy. The Turkish Navy has already participated in military exercises with this ship. This photograph shows TCG GOKCEADA (F-494), which operated between May 19 and June 23, 2017 under the Standing NATO Maritime Group-2 (SNMG-2), carrying out a Replenishment at Sea (RAS) with the LHD “Juan Carlos I” (L-61) on June 5, 2017.

The Turkish Navy is one of the few highly deterrent naval forces in the world in terms of its operational-training aspects, as can be understood from its contributions to national and multinational (NATO and the EU) operations that have been organised for many years all over the world, either individually or as part of a task force. In addition, new shipbuilding projects, such as those for the Multi-Purpose Amphibious Assault Ship (LHD) and for submarines with air-independent propulsion systems (AIP), are proceeding on track, and these vessels, once completed, will further increase our deterrent strength in terms of equipment. On the other hand, the project for the construction of the TF-2000 Air Defence Frigate is planned to begin soon.

The ANADOLU Multi-Purpose Amphibious Assault Ship is expected to enter the inventory of our Navy in 2021, and is another vessel that is of great importance as a deterrent.

ANADOLU will significantly increase the capability of the Turkish Navy in terms of forward basing beyond the Blue Homeland and power projection. In fact, ANADOLU was designed to carry helicopters as an air unit, but is now capable of accommodating an aircraft that can take off and land vertically, such as the F-35B, with its take-off ramp and with the numerous modifications that have been made.

F-35B demonstrating a ramp take-off.

F-35B demonstrating a ramp take-off.

Although it is meaningless to compare ANADOLU with a specifically designed aircraft carrier in terms of the number and types of aircraft and the number of sorties that can be generated, it is an indisputable fact that the deployment of a V/STOL aircraft aboard ANADOLU will make a major contribution to its power projection capabilities.

At this point, it would be useful to come up with an answer for the question, “What does a power projection capability give to a state and its navy?”:

  1. In reply, it provides a different dimension to political, diplomatic and military power in terms of deterrence and effectiveness in missions aimed at protecting interests in far seas,
  2. It forces adversaries to open a second front and to take precautions, causing a division of its force concentration,
  3. It provides support for the distant neutralisation of maritime threats against the homeland, and for layered defence during wartime,
  4. It plays a leading role during such operational missions as the peace support and crisis response operations, etc. launched by multinational security institutions such as NATO,
  5. It ensures effective support for strategic and political purposes in operations such as Peace Force and Peace Support, and
  6. It allows for rapid intervention and control through deployments in advance in regions where there is a crisis potential.

In recognition of the multi-faceted political and military threats to which it is exposed due to its geographical location, Turkey is compelled to assume regional security responsibilities and to carry both its defence and national politics beyond the Blue Homeland. For this reason, a self-sufficient naval task force with a power projection capability that is highly determent and effective is a necessary military and diplomatic instrument for Turkey.

Some expensive weapons that have been procured may expire and be decommissioned without ever being used, however their cost-effectiveness should be measured in terms of their contribution to the deterrence of our military power and to our diplomacy through their existence during peacetime. If a potential adversary gives up a manoeuvre, or if we achieve a national/international political goal in accordance with our national policy due to the existence of a weapon, that weapon can be said to have done its duty, without needing to be actually used.

US Marine Corps F-35B landing on USS Wasp (LHD 1).

US Marine Corps F-35B landing on USS Wasp (LHD 1).


Accordingly, the deployment of an F-35B or similar V/STOL aircraft aboard ANADOLU or its sister ship TRAKYA, which is planned for construction, is a necessity in terms of ensuring the effectiveness of the Turkish Navy in national and international missions in the seven seas in the years to come as part of our national policy.

The bases established in Qatar and Somalia, the missions in the Fight Against Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Somalia and in the Indian Ocean that have been continuing for 10 years, and the increasing commercial importance for Turkey of the maritime transport routes in the mentioned region, support the need of the Turkish Navy to expand its area of influence to include also the Indian Ocean.

The Indian Ocean and the adjacent seas, known today as the “Marine Silk Road”, should now be considered part of the geography through which our influence area needs to be expanded within the scope of our national policy.

It is clearly apparent that developing and maintaining our Navy based solely on the fact that our country is surrounded on three sides by sea will be inadequate for Turkey, as a country with historical, cultural and economic ties that stretch from Gibraltar to the Indian Ocean and beyond.

Accordingly, as part of our power projection capability, a navy that is equipped with and that maintains a full range of weaponry and equipment, including V/STOL aircraft, is a necessity for the survival of our state and our nation.

“The border of a nation with land by the sea is drawn by the limit of the strength and capability of its people” – Mustafa Kemal ATATÜRK

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