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Turkey’s First Aircraft Carrier to Host World’s First Mainly Unmanned Air Wing

Turkish Navy Receives First Aircraft Carrier

The Turkish Navy has received the TCG Anadolu, its first aircraft carrier, which is expected to house the world’s first air wing made primarily of unmanned aircraft. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the vessel would host many manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, with the TB3 from the Bayraktar family being the latest prototype tested on the carrier’s flight deck. The TB3 is a naval drone with foldable wings designed for ship decks and short runways, while its line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight communications capabilities allow it to be operated from far away locations. The TCG Anadolu is based on Spain’s flagship, the Juan Carlos I, with a displacement of 27,436 tons and a top speed of about 21 knots.

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TCG Anadolu: Carrier of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Initially designed to transport helicopters and short takeoff and vertical landing fighters, the TCG Anadolu was modified to become a carrier of unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned combat aerial vehicles and uncrewed fighter jets, after the US cut Turkey from the global F-35 fighter jet development programme in response to Ankara’s decision to buy Russia’s S-400 air missile defence systems in 2019. The Anadolu’s air wing is anticipated to mainly comprise Bayraktar TB3s, along with domestically made T129 Atak, AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters and SH-70B utility helicopters.

TCG Anadolu to House Unmanned Air Wing and Battalion-Sized Force

The ship has undergone minor infrastructure upgrades, including the installation of drone control stations, a roller system at the bow of the ship to aid in uncrewed aircraft launch, an arresting gear system on the deck to facilitate UCAV landings and safety nets for the recovery of smaller drone types. The TCG Anadolu will be able to house a force the size of a battalion, along with flight and command personnel.

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