Mass production of Türkiye’s first armored unmanned surface vessel (AUSV), the first marine craft within the scope of the ULAQ project, has started, according to a company official
The studies were initiated for the production of 50 units per year upon requests by certain countries, Ares Shipyard Unmanned Systems Project Manager Onur Yıldırım told Demirören News Agency (DHA).
The marine craft was developed by Ares Shipyard in cooperation with Ankara-based Meteksan Defense Industry Inc.
Yıldırım said that the ULAQ project is a collaboration between Ares Shipyard and Meteksan Defense, one of the leading companies in the Turkish defense industry, with their own capital.
The project started with research and development (R&D) and design studies in the second half of 2018, Yıldırım said, before sea and field testing began in 2020.
It hit a target with pinpoint accuracy in its first firing conducted as part of the Sea Wolf (Denizkurdu) 2021 military exercise, which was launched by the Turkish Naval Forces simultaneously in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea.
The AUSV fired Cirit missiles, produced by another Turkish defense giant, Roketsan, during the exercise.
The craft used to bear a pod with four laser-guided Crist missiles and two laser-guided long-range anti-tank missile launchers, Yıldırım noted, explaining that this weapon system was dismantled and the Koralp 12.7 mm stabilized weapon system was integrated into the platform afterward.
Yıldırım explained that fieldwork with actual firing tests was successfully completed in January.
The AUSV has a cruising range of 400 kilometers (249 miles), a speed of 65 kph (40.3 mph), day and night vision capabilities and a national encrypted communications infrastructure, making it “more than just a remotely controllable boat, it is an autonomous vehicle,” according to Yıldırım.
The AUSV also has three different modes of operation, he said, remote controlling, operating over satellite and autonomous operation.
“It can perform autonomous missions and operations at sea within the framework of the rules of maritime conflict prevention regulations by analyzing within its own algorithm and software, completely independent of the operator. In doing so, all systems, except for weapon engagement, are activated autonomously and allow the boat to cruise safely,” he explained.
Highlighting that ULAQ is a product family and there will be different configurations of the current prototype, Yıldırım said, “The boat we produced as a prototype is a boat that has performed the tasks of surface warfare and port defense.”
“We continue to produce alternative boats in line with the demands of the authorities. Currently, the construction of a boat with superior features to our prototype boat has begun. Subsequently, we continue to work with friendly and allied countries abroad with different platforms where we integrate useful loads in line with their needs. Upon requests from some countries, a capacity to produce 50 units per year has been created,” he said.
Listing the superior features of the new ULAQ, Yıldırım said the new boat is larger in size than the current prototype and “this both affects the maritime and its performance positively, and due to the increase in displacement, the amount of useful load that can be integrated on it is higher.”
“In fact, this means that it has the capacity to perform many different tasks at the same time by deploying more than one weapon load with different characteristics on a platform.”
“Unmanned naval platforms have the ability to perform all kinds of tasks in surface, air defense and submarine defense wars, provided that they are equipped with appropriate payloads as an asymmetric threat or as electronic warfare,” Yıldırım went on to say, adding that the success of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in domestic and international operations helped inspire them to produce the AUSVs.