MiLDEN: Turkey’s quest to build a national submarine
Two of the most important shipbuilding programmes of the Turkish Navy are the local construction of six TKMS Reis-class submarines (Type-214TN) and the indigenous development of a new class of submarine.
The latter is known as MiLDEN (Milli Denizaltı) and is an ambitious attempt of the Turkish defense industry not only to design and develop a new class of submarine, but to develop the suite of electronics, telecommunications, sensors, propulsion and weapon systems that will be integrated into the boat.
The MiLDEN development programme began in March 2012 under the auspices of ArMerKom, the Turkish Naval Research Center Command. The first phase of the programme, which lasted until 2015, included the feasibility study. The second phase – initiated in 2015 – will proceed until 2018 and includes the definition of the submarine’s technical and operational specifications.
During this period, the Turkish defense industry will develop the national integrated submarine management system, the national sonar, the national torpedo, and all related systems. In the following years (2017-2023), a Turkish company will try to develop a national Atmosphere Independent Power (AIP) system.
The third phase of MiLDEN includes a two-year initial design period (2023-2025), which will involve designing the hull and installation of the AIP system. This will be followed by a three-year detailed design period (2025-2028) to include the installation and integration of the systems mentioned earlier. The construction of the first submarine will start in 2028 and the goal is for it to be delivered to the Turkish Navy in 2033.
The Navy intends to incorporate as many Turkish defence companies into MiLDEN as possible.
Already many state and private owned defence contractors – as well as national research institutes – are working on the development and production of indigenous systems that will be installed in the six under-construction Reis-class (Type-214TN) submarines and will later be used for the construction of the MiLDEN submarines.
Aselsan will produce, install and integrate the ARES-2N ESM system into the Reis-class, along with the Alper LPI radar, an integrated communications system, an X-band satellite communication system and a thermal imaging camera for the Carl Zeiss Optronics periscopes.
Milsoft will develop the software for the Link-11/22 communication system, while Havelsan will integrate its SEDA system (Sonar integration and Control system) and TorAKS system (Torpedo fire control system, which is part of the SEDA system) with ISUS-90/72 Combat Management System (CMS) made by German company Atlas Elektronik. The consoles of the ISUS-90/72 CMS will be made by Turkey’s own Ayesas, and UK-based Ultra Electronics will work together with the Turkish company Koç Savuma Sistemleri to provide the torpedo countermeasures Sea Crypsis system.
The state owned research institute TUBITAK-MAM is set to develop the hydrophones, the vessel’s battery control system and the life support system of the new submarine. The propulsion system – a new generation AIP – will be developed by the Turkish company IdeaLab.
Turkish engineers are currently working on a compressed power generation system that uses compressed carbon dioxide. This new system is smaller and lighter compared to the existing technology and will allow the submarine to operate submerged for up to 90 days over a range of 15,000km.
Although this enterprising programme appears to be running smoothly at present, the biggest challenge for the Turkish defense industry will be the integration and effective performance of these many intricate systems.
Images: [top] Turkish Preveze submarine surfacing. Source: US Navy. [Centre] Artist's depiction of the in-development AIP. Source: defence.pk