Analysis Turkish Navy Commissions the Next Generation Intelligence Ship, TCG Ufuk; A Brief Analysis.

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The Turkish Navy has commissioned the intelligence ship TCG Ufuk at a ceremony held at SNR Holding Istanbul Shipyard, the shipbuilding subcontractor chosen by STM, in the presence of President Erdoğan, SSB President İsmail Demir and STM Managing Director Özgür Güleryüz. Prior to TCG Ufuk, intelligence duties were mainly carried out by TCG Yunus (former West German intelligence ship) and also, more partially, by TCG Cesme and TCG Candarli (Silas Bent Class survey ships). TCG Yunus served in the Turkish Navy between 1988-2000 and performed ELINT-SIGINT duties, also referred to as "Training and Electronic Survey Ship", while TCG Cesme & TCG Candarlı are still in service and function mainly as seismic / oceanographic survey ships with limited SIGINT / COMINT capabilities.


TCG Candarli, source; eugenio A588

Pictures of TCG Yunus are rare, and little information is known about her service in the West German Navy.

Source; Fatih Mehmet Kucuk (Twitter)

The project dates back to 2009-2010, first appearing in the annual reports of the SSB (then SSM, a sub-secretariat of the Ministry of Defence) in the evaluation of the feasibility phase. The shape of the ship then matured as the requirements were settled and finalised after the involvement of MIT (National Intelligence Agency). In 2015-16, SSB signed an agreement with STM for the design and engineering work for the platform, and was awarded the title of prime contractor for the project in 2017. The ship's shape was officially revealed for the first time at the platform's launch ceremony, which took place at SNR Holding Istanbul Shipyard in February 2019.


Source: SSB


Earlier design of the TCG Ufuk, note that the ESM module is likely to be band extended in the earlier design as well. Source; STM

It was seen that the intelligence ship, officially given the title "Test and Training Platform - TVEG in Turkish", was based on the Ada class design. The difference that was noticed at first glance was as follows;​
  • The anti-ship missile bay has been removed and incorporated into the interior.
  • A new, taller and larger mast has replaced the original mast and is designed to carry more equipment than the original.
  • A second mast has been placed at the aft position, with a surface surveillance gun.
  • The main gun has been removed, the space combined with the interior.
  • Exhaust funnel has been reduced in size, indicating that the gas turbine has been removed, but the diesel engines have been kept as the same, the gas turbine space has been reused.
The hangar door has been reduced in size to allow for the transfer of equipment and UAVs, indicating that the hangar is in fact being repurposed as an interior/storage space for certain equipment. No intention of storing a helicopter.

However, information was scarce at the time, and sufficient information was later obtained as the final form of the intelligence ship was revealed as the ship set sail for sea trials. At first glance, the differences from the earlier, interim design were striking. The differences are listed below;
  • The mast was equipped with a wide range of equipment, unlike the previous mast with a SMART-S or equivalent, the mast now housed a fixed face, probably dedicated ELINT antennas.
  • At the top of the mast was the VHF/UHF antenna, similar to the Milked 3A3. It can be assumed that the land-based versions were adopted for naval use.
  • At the top of the mast was probably a SIGINT antenna based on the ESM modules developed by Aselsan. The new antenna covers a broadband receiver in different layers and a 12/16 antenna on each layer provides omni-directional reception and direction finding capability.
  • An upgraded version of Aselsan's Denizgozu Ahtapot E/O was present, probably for reconnaissance missions for ground and airborne surveys.
  • Direction-finding rotating SIGINT / COMINT systems were present to focus on specific frequency bands.
  • High gain HF / VHF / UHF direction finding antennas.
  • Aselsan HF direction finding antennas, distributed in pairs around the hull.
  • Several IFF interrogators, probably in listening mode.
  • X-band SATCOM antennas, note that the ship is equipped with a special version of Havelsan & Armerkom's ADVENT, dedicated to intelligence mission planning and intelligence sharing with other platforms through a network-enabled environment.
  • In addition, a few other antennas are likely to be used for intercepting 4G-LTE-5G mobile communications.

Source; STM


Improved quality-visual of the Main (left) secondary-aft position(right) masts, certain equipment are distinguishable. source; @Test7


A look from afar during sea-trials of TCG Ufuk, original image by Oğuz Eroğuz, addition by forum.

It was unofficially known that the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) was associated with this project, but it was officially revealed in the ceremony that MIT personnel will serve on board. From this we can further deduce that the MIT personnel will focus on COMINT (VHF/HF and mobile phone communications as well as certain frequency bands of SIGINT for crypto communications) while the Navy personnel will focus on the whole of ELINT / COMINT / SIGINT for the whole as well as surface and air surveillance by radar and IRST (infrared search and tracking).

The main characteristics and tasks of the platform are as follows;​
  • Main dimensions, same as Ada class, tonnage is expected to be in the range of 2200-2400. No information available on hull shape modification.
  • Propulsion; Diesel, one engine per controllable pitch propeller.
  • Maximum speed; Continuous is given as 18, but it is known that the installed engines are capable of 20-22 knots at higher MCR.
  • Generator: 4 x 750 KVA, same as Ada Class Corvette and I Class Frigate.
  • Complement: N/A, expected to be over 100 with crew, MIT and Naval Intelligence personnel, and other intelligence officers from land and air forces.
  • Maximum capacity: Likely to have extra bunks for guests and trainees.
  • Endurance: 45 days autonomy.
In brief, TCG Ufuk is expected to perform the following duties;​
  • Signals intelligence collection in broadband frequencies.
  • Electronic intelligence collection, source classification and contribution to the EW library.
  • Communications intelligence, collection of unencrypted communications and storage, classification according to level of importance.
  • Eavesdropping for IFF and cell tower based communications.
  • Fusion of intelligence data, matching of SIGINT / ELINT sources and deflection of operational bands for target diversity, as well as adding the target's radar signature or IR signature to the library.
  • On-board high performance computing capability to decrypt the data, process SIGINT and ELINT data and fuse the on-board data with the additional data provided by the external sources.
  • Training of ESM / ELINT personnel for naval combatants.
  • Training of EW personnel for naval combatants.
  • Training of surveillance officers.
  • Testing of newly developed radar systems, EW suites and modules, calibration of equipment in real maritime environment.
  • Telemetry tasks for the long-range reception of certain objects for nationally developed systems.
Based on these aspects, it is safe to call TCG Ufuk a "Next Generation Intelligence Ship", it is also expected to be equipped with other systems that are not revealed to the public, and the rest is up to the imagination of the reader as to what this ship is capable of, serving right in the middle of the Turkish Armed Forces and MIT. It should be noted that the ship's sea trials were expected to be completed by 2020, but she has been undergoing a prolonged session of sea trials for testing and verification of the newly developed and installed systems.​

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