One of the election strategies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to show voters that Turkey is getting stronger by promoting domestically produced defense industry products. The TGC Anadolu, which Erdogan repeatedly describes as an aircraft carrier but is actually a multi-purpose amphibious assault ship, has become the latest showcase product in his election propaganda. In line with his instructions given at the ceremony in which Anadolu was delivered to the Turkish Naval Forces Command on April 10, the ship is now currently on display in Istanbul and open to the public.
The pro-Erdogan media also insist that the ship is Turkey’s first and only aircraft carrier. In some publications, they claim that the ship is the first military drone carrier in the world.
TCG Anadolu is the largest ship in the Turkish Navy with a length of 231 meters, a width of 32 meters and displacement of 27,436 tons. The ship will have a top speed of 20.5 knots and a range of 9,000 nautical miles when fully loaded. The construction of the vessel began in April 2016, and the keel was laid in February 2018. The ship will carry out such tasks as military combat and humanitarian relief operations. Furthermore, it will act as a command center and the navy’s new flagship. TCG Anadolu was designed by Spain’s Navantia and built at the Sedef Shipyard in Turkey. Sea acceptance tests started last June.
However, according to some experts, the ship is neither the world’s first ship on which drones are deployed nor an aircraft carrier. They even state that many critical tests have not yet been completed. So that the Erdogan government can put on a show before the elections, the ship has been activated before the end of the acceptance tests, which may cause serious problems.
According to former staff major Engin Büker, sea acceptance tests, which constitute the last stage of the ship’s construction, last up to one year.
“This process aims to certify that all systems and equipment involved in the ship’s construction are functioning correctly, that all safety standards are met and are at a level to meet operational requirements,” Engin wrote in his personal blog.
Büker claims that the commissioning of the ship was rushed, considering that the navy is not ready for the use, escort and protection of Anadolu, given the number of personnel, training level and current navy combat elements.
“After the early commissioning, it is possible to encounter many different problems in its maintenance and use,” Büker adds.
Another expert who claims that the ship is not yet ready is former naval officer Fatih Yurtsever, who underlines that if the ship was ready, it should have been used for humanitarian purposes during earthquakes that struck Turkey’s south and southeast in February.
“Had TCG Anadolu needed to be delivered urgently for military reasons, it should have been done after the earthquakes that struck Turkey on February 6. With its carrying capacity and medical capabilities, TCG Anadolu could have been effectively deployed in humanitarian aid operations to assist earthquake victims immediately after the disaster,” Yurtsever writes.
In the meantime the Anadolu was opened to the public, anchoring at Istanbul’s Sarayburnu Port on Monday. The ship, which will be available for visits until April 23, will then pass through the Bosporus, allowing people who were not able to tour the ship to see it.
Erdogan made harsh references to the opposition parties in Afyon, where he went to campaign yesterday, by mentioning the Anadolu.
Claiming that domestic production has reached 80 percent of total production in the defense industry, Erdogan said the opposition became enraged when they saw TCG Anadolu.
The presidency also distributed pictures of the indigenous fighter jet that completed taxiing tests last month. It also announced that two domestically produced Altay tanks would be delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) on April 23, National Sovereignty and Children’s Day. However, the information not shared with the public is that the tanks are merely prototypes for the TSK’s tests, equipped with Korean engines and that the factory that will produce the tank has not yet been built.