Within the MLU project scope, indigenous systems developed by ASELSAN – HAVELSAN Joint Venture will replace the existing combat systems onboard 4 Barbaros-class Frigates of the Turkish Naval Forces (Türk Deniz Kuvvetleri). The modernization of the first frigate is set to be completed in November 2022, while the last ship of the class is expected to be delivered in 2024.
The most significant modification of the Barbaros-class frigates is the Combat Management System. Turkey’s leading company of C2 solutions, HAVELSAN will modernize the existing TACTICOS combat management system with “B-SYS Combat Management System,” a derivative of indigenous GENESIS CMS. Besides, a gunfire control system named “TAKS,” locally developed by the R&D department of the Turkish Navy, will be adapted to the 127mm main gun.
Another important upgrade is about anti-ship missile systems. The ships will be outfitted with 16 Atmaca anti-ship missiles (4 quad canisters) replacing the 8 Harpoon missiles (2 quad canisters) currently fitted.
The main mast will be replaced with a stealth one. Thales SMART-S Mk 2 air/surface search radar and ASELSAN ARES-2 series ESM and ECM systems will be placed on the new mast. The ASELSAN-made MAR-D 3D phased array radar will replace AWS-06 short-range multipurpose radar, and indigenous AKR-D trackers will replace STIR trackers.
The old Sea Guard Close-in Weapon System (CIWS), which consists of three 4-barrel Sea Zenith 25 mm guns, will be replaced by two CIWS, the indigenous Gokdeniz CIWS in front of the bridge and Phalanx CIWS above the helo hangar. There will be 2×2 UMTAS / L-UMTAS launchers at the starboard and port side of Gokdeniz CIWS to meet the ship’s short-range missile needs.
AN/SQS-56 sonar will be replaced by FERSAH Hull-Mounted Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Sonar System, which can operate in Medium Frequency (MF) Bands in both active and passive modes. Aselsan, the main contractor, with the support of Armelsan, developed FERSAH for frigates and corvettes. FERSAH also has the capability to detect sea mines.
Other upgrades within the scope of the MLU project are as follow:
- ASELSAN-made “Piri” Infrared Search and Tracking system
- Laser Warning System
- ASELSAN-made ALPER LPI navigational radar (instead of DECCA 2690)
- Two ASELSAN-STOP Remote Controlled Stabilized Naval Gun System
- ASELSAN HIZIR Torpedo Countermeasures system (instead of AN/SLQ-25 Nixie)
In addition to the issues mentioned above, Turkish officials state that they aim to increase the systems’ effectiveness with indigenous software solutions. The common desire of the officials is to sustain the indigenization trend of the industry and reduce the outsourcing.
On the other hand, the effects of the recent U.S. sanctions on the MLU project are not clear yet. The common concern of the Turkish defense experts is procuring Phalanx CIWS would not be possible, equipping the ship with two Gokdeniz CIWS is seen as the best solution to reduce the impact of the sanctions.
This Mid-Life Upgrade will extend the Barbaros-class frigates’ service life until the 2040s.