The JV consisting of Turkish companies Ares Shipyard and Meteksan has named the new variant the “Base/Harbour Defence Boat”. The payload of the new version differs from that of the prototype, which successfully completed port and sea trials as well as live missile firing. The USV’s armament appears to be the most significant change. The missile launcher was replaced by a 12.7 mm stabilized remote weapon system (RWS) named KORALP built by the Turkish defense company Best Group. The ULAQ is the first naval platform to be outfitted with Best Group’s 12.7 mm RWS.
The JV boosted ULAQ’s indigenization by replacing the existing electro-optic (EO) sensors with Aselsan’s DENIZGOZU EO system.
Naval News reached out to the Deputy General Manager of Ares Shipyard, Mr. Oguzhan Pehlivanlı, to get further information about the new variant of ULAQ.
Mr. Pehlivanli emphasized the effectiveness of the small caliber guns against asymmetric threats and easy use procedures, saying:
“All sea testing with the KORALP 12.7 mm RWS were completed satisfactorily. Following this stage, live-firing trials are scheduled to be held in January 2022.”
Pehlivanli also mentioned the capabilities such as meeting the basic requirements of surface warfare, using without laser designation, and the deterrent role it plays in preventing refugee and illegal smuggling, as important benefits that a USV equipped with this weapon will provide to the force it is connected to.
Potential European Customers
In response to our question about potential interest from foreign countries in ULAQ, Mr. Pehlivanli revealed significant information. He said that there is a significant market potential for ULAQ outside of the nations where Turkish defense companies typically serve as producer-sellers:
“I am glad to note that there are European end-user country candidates for ULAQ. The final negotiations with the two countries, which are nearing completion, are soon to be concluded. I believe our agreements will be announced in the first few months of 2022.”
Ares Shipyard and Meteksan introduced the combat variant of the ULAQ USV at the 8th Steering Board meeting of the NATO Maritime Unmanned Systems Initiative (MUS) which was hosted online. The JV delivered an informative presentation about the various configurations, characteristics, and capabilities of the ULAQ USV, as well as the theoretical and actual actions carried out in 2020 and 2021. The companies also shared their projections for the future with the participants.
Pehlivanli declined to comment on the Turkish government’s USV procurement process and possible tender issues.
About ULAQ USV
ULAQ is the brand name for the Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) product family developed by ARES Shipyard and Meteksan Defence, which covers a variety of platform types, capabilities, and roles.
ULAQ was first unveiled in October 2020. It has a 400 km range, 65 km/h speed, day/night vision capabilities, encrypted communication infrastructure, which can be operated from mobile vehicles, navy headquarters or from sea platforms such as aircraft carriers or frigates. Its missions include intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, surface warfare, asymmetric warfare, escort missions, strategic infrastructure protection.
The prototype carries a launcher for four laser-guided Cirit missiles and two laser-guided long-range anti-tank missiles (L-UMTAS) produced by Turkish missile manufacturer Roketsan. The ULAQ prototype carried out test-fires of Cirit against a land target on 26-27 May 2021 during the Denizkurdu-2021 exercise of the Turkish Navy. After the firing trials, the anti-surface warfare (ASuW) version completed the acceptance trials.
Following the ASuW version, which is the initial phase of the project, the development will begin on autonomous surface vehicles for intelligence and electronic warfare, mine hunting, anti-submarine warfare, firefighting, and humanitarian aid/evacuation.
ULAQ USV main specifications
- Length: 11 meters
- Speed: 35 knots
- Range: 400 Kilometers
- ASuW – 4x Cirit and 2x UMTAS missiles
- Base/Harbor Protection – 12.7 mm RWS
- ASW – 2x Lightweight Torpedoes
- Control station: Can be controlled from ground and sea stations