While it was a matter of curiosity about operating TB-3 Bayraktar drones from LHD Anadolu, Baykar Defence’s CEO, Haluk Bayraktar, made the expected explanation during Turkish Gebze University’s Aviation and Space Summit held online on 7 May.
“I guess you wonder about the TB-3 drone. I am sharing this for the first time; I will show only an image. This rendering shows the take-off and landing concept of TB-3 drones on LHD Anadolu which is currently under construction in the Sedef Shipyard. We are pretty sure that this project will contribute to the power of the Turkish Navy, and the project will not last long. TB-3 will not be a vertical landing aircraft; it will land and take off like other shipborne aircraft operating on aircraft carrier. TB-3 UCAV will carry ASELSAN made CATS (Common Aperture Targeting System) electro-optical system.”
Baykar Defence’s CEO, Haluk Bayraktar
In the concept image, a roller system is located at the bow part of Anadolu, which will probably be used for hauling the drone to provide initial take-off speed. The main concern in this project is to avoid delays in Anadolu’s delivery to the Turkish Navy. Anadolu is currently scheduled to enter service in 2022, and fitting it with a complex catapult system would cause delays. According to the experts, such a roller system looks easier to adapt to the LHD. However, there is no clue about the landing system for the drones in the rendering.
Another critical detail in the image is the folding wings of the TB-3. The folding parts of the drones are shown with black lines on the wings.
Two months ago, Ismail Demir, the head of the Turkish Defence Industry Presidency, stated in an interview that at least ten armed drones could be simultaneously used in operations and integrated into a command-and-control centre on the ship.
“After completing the project, between 30 and 50 folding-winged Bayraktar TB3 drones will be able to land and take off using the deck of Anadolu.”
Head of the Turkish Defence Industry Presidency
A drone-carrier ship will be a brand-new operational concept. Since UCAVs do not have air-to-air combat capability yet, these drones’ primary purpose seems to be ISR and small-scale strike operations, like engaging coastal targets (e.g., Naval Surveillance Radars, SSM batteries) and naval assets with low air-defense capabilities. Besides, SWARM attacks with these UCAVs taking off from a carrier would be a new advantage against adversary surface action groups.
While it is not known whether these drones would be a replacement for F35s, they seem to bring a new composition to naval warfare.