"The aircraft carrier is no longer a distant dream for us," said the President of the Republic of Turkey. Does Recep Tayyip Erdogan believe that his country has approached the opportunities that only a few states in the world have? On closer examination, it is not difficult to see that under the word "aircraft carrier", Turkish politicians and military men mean something completely different.
Turkey intends to build its own aircraft carrier, the country's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said on Monday. These plans were voiced during the launching of a new ship of the Turkish Navy - the corvette "Kinalaly".
"We are obliged to become one of the leaders in shipbuilding, and the aircraft carrier is no longer a distant dream for us," the Turkish president reassured his fellow citizens. What will be the ship that Erdogan called the "aircraft carrier"?
"Project" Anatolia "
According to open sources, the project is very different from American, and from British, and from Chinese, and from Russian counterparts.
Discussion of the project "aircraft carrier" is being conducted in Turkey at least since the beginning of the 2000-ies. Then the project had a different name - "Levent". In 2012, the head of the Turkish defense industry secretariat Murad Bayar said: the country is completing the development of the project. Then the Turkish media reported that the construction of the ship will take five years and will cost 1,5 billion dollars. The project implied that it was planned to place eight helicopters and about 1 thousand personnel on board. It was announced that the ship will be built by 2021 year.
However, as a result, a variant proposed by the Spanish shipbuilding company Navantia was taken as a project, together with which it will be produced. The signing ceremony for the contract for the design and construction of the ship with the company Sedef was held at the International Naval Exhibition IDEF 2015. And as the basis of this project the Spaniards took UDC-aircraft carrier of the Spanish Navy "Juan Carlos I".
As the Turkish military say, Anadolu ("Anatolia", or "Asia Minor" - such a name, presumably, will carry a ship) should become both a universal landing ship (UDC) and an aircraft carrier.
It is planned that the ship will have a length of 232 m, a width of 32 m and a displacement of just over 26 thousand tonnes. For comparison, the only Russian aircraft carrier - the heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov - has a length at the waterline of 270 m (and the longest 306 m) , The greatest width 72 m and the total displacement 61,3 m.
To bring UDC into motion, it is planned to install five diesel power plants (the estimated speed is 21 node, that is, 39 km / h). A lift will be provided to lift airplanes into the air. The air wing should consist of 10 fighters F-35B and 12 helicopters. In addition, as UDC, it will be able to transport about 94 tanks and 700 military personnel, and will also be equipped with a hospital for 34 bunks.
In other words, when the Turkish president and the military call Anadolu an aircraft carrier, they, to put it mildly, are cunning. The ship of the type planned to be strengthened by the Turkish fleet can not be compared either with the US aircraft carriers Gerald Ford or Nimitz, or with the Russian heavy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.
The US Navy has several ships of this kind: UDC and landing helicopters, on which, for example, Harrier vertical take-off aircraft can be based. The Pentagon does not consider such ships as aircraft carriers. Fighter-bombers F35B, which will be placed on the Turkish "UDC-aircraft carrier," also refer to aircraft with a short takeoff and vertical landing.
Such ships are indeed aircraft carriers - but this their similarity with these aircraft carriers is coming to an end. Their combat power, the range of their use, the size of the wing and what is called in the navy "the projection of power" are in no way comparable to the capabilities provided to Russia by Admiral Kuznetsov, and even more so to the United States - their giant nuclear aircraft carriers. Similar ships can be compared more likely with the French helicopter carrier "Mistral", which Russia once bought from France and which eventually ended up at the disposal of the Egyptian Navy.
The construction of a real aircraft carrier in Turkey, as far as one can understand, is not even discussed. It's no wonder - it's hard to imagine exactly what tasks could be performed in the interests of Ankara so large, so expensive and so specific a ship.
Why does Turkey need this?
"This is part of the overall trend - strengthening the strategic forces of the Turkish navy. Turkey has long been moving from defensive means to strategic ones, "Andrei Boldyrev, a researcher at the Center for Middle and Near East Studies, commented to the newspaper VZGLYAD. This trend began at the end of the 2000-ies, when the Turks themselves began to build their ships, rather than buying.
Aircraft carriers - even of the kind UDC - are one of the most formidable forces of the fleet and are aimed at creating a projection of the strength of the armed forces of the country in a certain region. This weapon is primarily offensive. We must not forget that Turkey's sphere of interests includes not only the Black Sea, but also the Mediterranean.
"From the political point of view, Erdogan wants to expand the sphere of influence of Turkey. Ankara does not want to limit itself only to the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Middle East. I think he has much more interests and appetites, "said Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov, former commander of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy, to the newspaper VZGLYAD.
What does this mean for Russia?
Vladimir Komoyedov believes that Anadolu is unlikely to walk in the Black Sea. In his opinion, this is simply not necessary: "The Black Sea is not that big," and Turkey needs a ship for operations in the Mediterranean. In this connection, Komoedov stressed: Russia, of course, should take into account the strengthening of the Turkish fleet, despite the constructive nature of relations with that country.
If in the Mediterranean Sea "aircraft carriers - American, Turkish, French, who can move aviation to anywhere in the Mediterranean region, we have to think about how to resist," the expert said. According to Komoedov, in these conditions the Black Sea Fleet should be very mobile and it does not need to get hung up on large slow-moving ships.
General rearmament of our fleet is planned by the end of 2020, expert Andrei Boldyrev reminded. Until recently, the ratio between the Turkish Navy and the Russian Black Sea Fleet in terms of firepower and number of ships was not in our favor.