The Turkish Navy is inching closer to deploying its first ULAQ unmanned surface vessels (USVs).
According to a recent announcement on Twitter, the Turkish Defence Agency (SSB) has signed a contract with ARES Shipyard and Meteksan to procure the much-awaited maritime platform.
— ARES Shipyard (@ARESShipyard) December 27, 2022
The deal reportedly covers delivery of the ULAQ anti-surface and anti-submarine variants.
The contract award follows rigorous trials, including the firing of the ship’s two laser-guided missiles off the coast of Antalya in 2021.
The vessel completed sea trials in January 2022.
Naval News reported that the USVs are expected to enter service with the Turkish Navy “in the following months.”
In mid-2021, the ULAQ USV’s demonstrated its capabilities, including carrying four laser-guided Cirit missiles and two infrared-guided L-UMTAS missiles.
However, SSB head Ismail Demir unveiled new capabilities last month, stating that the ULAQ now has enhanced interoperability with drones and other unmanned platforms for enhanced naval operations.
It also features precise maneuverability in littoral waters and improved image processing capability for better surveillance.
The USV has also been equipped with a new, locally-made propulsion system for increased speed.
“We are equipping ULAQ armed USV with new capabilities, making it fully autonomous and developing it so that it can conduct anti-submarine warfare,” Ismail said.
“Our goal is 90% localization with an indigenous engine, 12.7-mm [remote control weapon station], torpedo, L-UMTAS missile, command and control software, communication system, camera, and sonar system.”
ULAQ SİDA’ya yeni kabiliyetler kazandırıp tam otonom hale getiriyor, denizaltı savunma harbi icra edecek şekilde geliştiriyoruz.
Hedefimiz yerli motor, 12.7 mm UKSS, torpido, L-UMTAS füzesi, komuta kontrol yazılımı, haberleşme sistemi, kamera ve sonar sistemiyle % 90 yerlilik! pic.twitter.com/49NoPPK8IM
— Ismail Demir (@IsmailDemirSSB) December 11, 2022