DefenceHub Article On premises of flotilla expansion: Turkish Navy evaluates transfer of Royal Navy's Type-23 (Duke Class)

Anıl Mert Taşkın 

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As Minister of Defense, Hulusi Akar had paid a visit to United Kingdom in 15th of January, it has came to light (with Marine Deal News' article) that Turkish Navy is interested in Type-23 of Royal Navy planned to be decommissioned gradually, from 2023 on.

A little background on Type-23 is available in Wikipedia, some of the ships have gone through an upgrade (rather MLU) while some of the hulls have only been through a Life extension upgrade (overhauling of necessary equipment and machinery to keep the ship operationally safe and sound beyond the planned life). The common information, thus, is not provided in this article; simply address to Wikipedia.

This is neither Type-23's first appearance for Turkish Navy, nor the first time Turkish Navy evaluates a used platform for flotilla extension. There have been several evaluation, inspection, feasibility studies on some platforms bound to be retired, being operated by foreign navies, since 2010. One of the well known case was additional Oliver Hazard Perry hulls, to supply Gabya Class flotilla, operating as air defense frigate within TN. Besides, in 90s Type 23 design was offered to Turkish Navy with a custom weapon suite but lost the bidding to MEKO 200;

Type 23 offered to Turkish Navy in 90s, with sea zenith

Image source; Ibrahim Sunnetci

The ship has a unique propulsion system that is not present in TN's combatants, so far, a CODELOG system consisting of 4 diesel gen-sets and electric motors for cruise speed and 2 Rolls-Royce made gas turbines to attain high speeds, note that neither of the engines or machinery is currently in use of TN. The ship neither provides a better air-defense / point-defense capabilities than existing Gabya-Class, nor the soon to be commissioned Istanbul Class. However, in comparison to Istanbul Class frigates, Type 23 attains higher endurance at high sea states (predicted to be operational at 6/7 and endurance up to 9) with longer autonomous range (7500 compared to 4700 NM) as well as being able to be operated without a logistic supply (provisions, water storage etc.).

The ship's foremost contribution to Turkish Navy would be the cutting edge active towed, variable depth sonar; Sonar 2087 and bow mounted Sonar 2150. And only for this reason, it can be a good fit for the future LHD Task Force, to protect the flotilla from underwater threats and conduct ASW duties at blue waters. As Aselsan's DUFAS (Low frequency, variable depth sonar) undergoes tests and studies continue to develop a multi-static sonar system for TF-2000 and other platforms-coupled with sonars installed on unmanned systems, there is no need for Sonar 2087 in midterm. Although, Anadolu LHD is expected to be in service by end of 2023 after extensive sea trials thus, in short term an urgency has risen as Istanbul Class construction and Barbaros Class MLU have been delayed by years. Moreover, TF2000 is not expected in active service before 2030, Type 23's could be an interim - urgent solution to save the day, not the future of TN.

Turkish Navy is less likely to acquire Type-23 according to the latest information, due to the "alienation" to the major subsystems on the ship. An upgrade-modernization-commonization was considered to replace existing Combat Management System with ADVENT, Fire Control Radar with Aselsan AKREP, Torpedo Decoy's with Hızır TAKS's countermeasures and 114mm / 30mm weapon systems with MKE 76mm and Aselsan's stabilized cannons. In this case, as it is not possible to upgrade propulsion system, the platform would be cumbersome for Turkish Navy with uncommon propulsion units, which is rather kept common in the rest of the ships. (Gabya, MEKO, Ada, Istanbul Classes use MTU / LM2500 with nearly common propulsion-related equipment)

If undergo an upgrade, Type 23s are not expected in service before than 2024, and expected to be delivered in batches of 2; as first 2 ships have arrived and upgraded the other 2 ships will be available for delivery and be in service no longer before than 2026. Royal Navy, also, does not intend to let go of Type 23 in whole as Russian invasion of Ukraine warms the arctic waters.
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