“The longest-range firing to date from a UCAV with the MAM-L smart munition was conducted in the Mavi Vatan 2021 Exercise. Turkish Navy’s TB-2 Bayraktar UCAV hit the surface target in the Eastern Mediterranean successfully with a laser-guided MAM-L missile which was developed and produced indigenously,”
On March 4, a firing exercise (FIREX) was conducted in the Antalya coast’s vicinity, and the target was located close to the shoreline, between the small islands. The firing unit, TB-2 Bayraktar UCAV, which took off from Dalaman Naval Air Base, illuminated the target with laser and hit the target with pinpoint accuracy with one MAM-L munition. After the MAM-L strike, an S-70B naval helicopter engaged the target with a Hellfire missile.
About MAM-L (Mini Akilli Muhimmat-Lazer) Micro Smart Munition
The Roketsan-made Smart Micro Munition MAM-L has been developed for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), light attack aircrafts and air-ground missions for low payload capacity air platforms. MAM-L can engage both stationary and moving targets with high precision.
- Diameter: 160 mm
- Length: 1 m
- Weight: 22 kg
- Range: 8 km (15 km with Inertial Navigation System/Global Positioning System Option)
- Seeker: Semi-Active Laser Seeker
- Warhead Types: Tandem Effective Against Reactive Armor, High-Explosive Blast Fragmentation, Thermobaric
- Fuse: Impact, Proximity
Use of UCAV at sea, a game changer ?
This FIREX was the first training to hit a sea target with a UCAV in close coordination with manned surface and air assets. The surface action group relayed the target information to the coastal control station that controlled the drone, and the UCAV illuminated and attacked the target itself. Deploying UCAVs in naval warfare, particularly in the littoral waters, will trigger navies to rearrange their tactical plans. Because small surface combatants, such as FACs, wouldn’t be able to hide between islands and land cover. Since the RF and IR-guided missiles cannot hit a target close to an island successfully, laser-guided munitions launched from drones can neutralize them without entering the surface asset’s stand-off range.
Besides, UCAVs will provide tactical elasticity by conducting high risky missions without human loss probability. These drones’ primary purpose seems to be ISR and small-scale strike operations, like engaging coastal targets (e.g., Naval Surveillance Radars, SSM batteries, critical logistic stations) and naval assets with low air-defense capabilities. Besides, SWARM attacks with these UCAVs would be a new advantage against adversary surface action groups.
Turkish Navy plans to conduct manned and unmanned hybrid operations more than before in the future. Last week, the Head of the Turkish Defence Industry made a statement about converting the LHD Anadolu into a drone-carrier ship. Baykar company has been working on a shipborne UCAV named TB-3 and planning to deliver it to the Turkish Navy in a year. This statement was a clue to the Turkish Navy’s drone policy, which will form a new naval warfare concept.