Naval Air: Turkish Carrier Aircraft


March 12, 2023: The new Turkish Navy flagship is the 27,000-ton LHD (Landing Helicopter Dock) Anadolu. Not only was Anadolu built in Turkey but so are the combat aircraft operating from the LHD. These ships have a well deck in the rear from which to launch landing craft. Anadolu is a multi-purpose ship with a crew of 261 as well as accommodations for several hundred troops, or civilians being evacuated from a disaster area. Anadolu has a top speed of 39 kilometers an hour and max range of 17,000 kilometers at cruising speed of 30 kilometers an hour.

Originally the Anadolu was supposed to have F-35B VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) stealth fighters but that order was canceled when Turkey bought the Russian S-400 air defense system. There are other advanced aircraft Turkey can use from the Anadolu; notably its locally produced Kizilelma jet-propelled UAV. At the end of 2022, Bayraktar, the Turkish firm that developed and produced the popular TB2 missile carrying UAV, successfully flight tested Kizilelma. Production of the new jet UAV is now planned to begin in 2024, and it will operate from the LHD Anadolu. The flight deck was large enough for Kizilelma to take off from and land on because of its ski-jump design. Kizilelma can carry 1.5 tons of weapons and travel at speeds of up to 1,100 kilometers an hour at altitudes of about 12,500 meters (40,000 feet) for five to six hours. Kizilelma has an AESA radar enabling it to use air-to-air missiles and GPS guided bombs. A satellite link is used to remotely control Kizilelma. In theory, Andalou could carry up to 50 TB3s (a carrier version of the 1.5 ton TB2 UAV) but if Kizilelma was on board there would be no more than 30 TB3s and Kizilelmas. In practice there would be about 20 on the LHD, to make room for helicopters. Over the last decade the U.S. Navy developed flight control software enabling UAVs to safely take off and land on carriers. The six-ton Kizilelma is 14.7 meters long with a ten-meter wingspan and uses a Ukrainian-made turbo-jet engine. Anadolu could also operate the new Turkish made Hurjet trainer aircraft. Hurjet is actually a little smaller than the Kizilelmas UAV and carries fewer weapons. Its first flight takes place in 2023 and a naval version would not be available for five years or more.




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