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The Turkish government has officially launched an ambitious mission to build the country’s first locally-made frigate.
Speaking at a high-profile event, Turkish Defense Minister, Fikri Isik, said that a flurry of successful naval programs have put Turkey into the small league of 10 countries that can design and build warships.
Naval industry sources had feared that the frigate program could face uncertainties due to technological limitations and high costs. “We are glad to have been mistaken,” one industry official told defensenews.com. “The frigate program will give a major boost to the industry, including subsystem makers.”
The minister explained that Turkey’s seven privately-owned shipyards and military-owned shipyards have a combined warship construction portfolio worth $5.5 billion. He added that business volume would reach $12 billion in the medium-long term as several new planned programs for the construction of support ships, frigates, assault boats and fast boats will have been launched.
Turkey’s next target, the minister said, is to design, develop and build the warfare systems for naval platforms. The I-class frigate is the first of a batch of four vessels Turkey plans to construct. It has a height of 113.2 meters and a width of 14.4 meters. Its maximum speed is 29 knots per hour.
Before the frigate program had been launched, Turkey’s most ambitious naval program was the construction of four indigenous corvettes, the smallest warship in operational activity. Officials say Turkey’s local input in the corvette program, dubbed MILGEM, was 65 percent.
According to the defense minister, “Building a national naval fleet is one of the top priorities for the government.”
In another venture, a private Turkish shipyard is building, in partnership with the Spanish Navantia, a Landing Platform Dock in an over $1 billion deal.