December 13, 2012: With only one of its twelve new Heybeliada class anti-submarine corvettes in service, Turkey is now planning to produce another new class of ships in the form of four larger multi-purpose ships (frigates). These will also be locally designed and built. The Turkish navy is already the most powerful force in the eastern Mediterranean, with 17 frigates, seven corvettes, 14 submarines, and 27 missile armed patrol boats, plus 75 aircraft. Many of these ships are approaching retirement and the Turks want to replace most of them with locally built vessels. While the locally made corvettes cost less than $300 million each, the frigates would cost over a billion dollars each and weigh more than twice as much.
These 2,300 ton Heybeliada class corvettes are the first modern warships designed and built in Turkey, using largely Turkish made components. The Heybeliadas are 99.6 meters (308 feet) long and have a crew of 93. Weapons include a 76mm gun, two remotely controlled 12.7mm machine-guns, eight Harpoon anti-ship missiles, 21 RAM missiles for use against aircraft and anti-ship missiles, six torpedo tubes, and a helicopter. Electronics include radar, sonar, and electronics warfare gear. Top speed is 52 kilometers an hour and endurance is about 21 days. The entire class won't be completed until 2028, and four of the later ones will be slightly larger and armed with more anti-aircraft weapons. The first eight will spend most of their time performing coast guard duties.
The four new frigates will range farther into the Mediterranean and Black Seas. For centuries, until the appearance of metal ships, Turkey was a major builder of warships. The Turks are very much aware of that tradition and are keen to regain some of that past stature in the warship construction industry.