Navies around the world need to perform a variety of missions ranging from maritime security operations in territorial waters to power projection, including intervention in external theatres of operation, and from the littoral environment to the deep sea. To fulfill these tasks, naval platforms should have high-tech sensor systems. Sonar, as one of the sensor systems of naval platforms, is an essential sensor component for early warning, reconnaissance & surveillance in ports, bases, and strategic territorial waters, as well as anti-submarine warfare, and mine countermeasures, torpedo defence for naval platforms.
According to recent research on the sonar systems market, surface ship hull-mounted sonars are experiencing significant growth due to increasing demand from naval forces for anti-submarine warfare capabilities. Hull sonar is the main underwater sensor of naval platforms that detects submarines, unmanned underwater vehicles, submersibles, and mines with accurate localization as it uses advanced beamforming, adaptive signal processing, and information processing techniques to detect, track, and classify the targets.
As Turkey’s defense industry evolved, so did its shipbuilding and naval technology sectors, and Turkey became one of the countries that produced national hull-mounted sonar, which was successfully utilized in various operations and was even exported to other countries. Turkey’s national hull-mounted sonar system is known as YAKAMOS, and it is designed and manufactured by the Turkish company Meteksan Defence.
Meteksan Defence started to design sonar systems in 2008, built a solid infrastructure, and was chosen by the Turkish Defense Industry Agency and Turkish Navy to industrialize the sonar systems of MILGEM Ada Class Corvettes. YAKAMOS, MILGEM Corvettes’ Hull Mounted Sonar System, is a medium frequency surface ship Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and obstacle avoidance sonar designed for underwater awareness of platforms to automatically detect and track underwater targets such as submarines, submersibles, torpedoes, and mine-like objects.
YAKAMOS has currently over 10 years of field experience and sea-proven performance onboard four Turkish Navy Corvettes and performed successfully in different environmental conditions from south of Africa to Nordic Sea in Atlas Ocean and from the Black Sea to the Indian Ocean onboard MİLGEM Corvettes starting from year 2012.
Following the success of YAKAMOS, Meteksan Defence has developed the second generation of the hull-mounted sonar system called YAKAMOS 2020. With its improved technology, YAKAMOS 2020 is easily adaptable to evolving technologies and changing acoustic environments thanks to a more compact, powerful, modular, scalable, innovative hardware and configurable software architecture. The system is capable of operating at high performance for extended periods of time due to the increased efficiency of the enhanced power modules and system architecture and can detect potential threats from greater distances by updating the sensor (transducer) architecture. The common use of configurable and scalable modules for the sonar systems, designed for platform configurations of different types and sizes, is expected to save costs for integrated logistics support (ILS), lifetime management, and spare parts.
In 2019, Meteksan surpassed its European competitors by successfully exporting YAKAMOS 2020 with MILGEM Corvettes to the Pakistan Navy. Starting in 2022, four Pakistan Navy MILGEM Corvettes will be outfitted with YAKAMOS 2020. YAKAMOS 2020 was also exported to another country in 2020 with MILGEM Corvettes. Finally, in the same year, Meteksan Defence was successful in using its proven sonar on another platform being developed for the Turkish Navy.
As one of Turkey’s major defense businesses and a Turkish Defense Industry Agency-designated “Underwater Acoustic Systems Center of Excellence,” the company also created other items in this technical field. Examples of these products include submarine sonar systems such as Intercept Passive Sonar (IPS), Intercept Detection & Ranging Sonar (IDRS), new generation acoustic sensors for platforms, and early warning underwater sensor networks systems such as acoustic vector sensors and fiber-optic acoustic sensors, underwater digital acoustic modem, spare transducers and hydrophones for surface ships and submarines.
Meteksan Defence would like to increase its cooperation with world navies, global warship designers, and shipyards as the company believes YAKAMOS 2020 stands out in the worldwide market with its superior performance, reliability, maintainability, and effective cost.
Tactical Assessment and User Comments
While sensor technologies for surface and air surveillance have advanced at a dizzying pace, the underwater world remains a mystery, and sonars stand as the primary option for underwater monitoring. Consequently, sonar technology is the most important feature for defending naval forces against underwater threats.
To meet the underwater protection requirements of a warship and naval task force, such systems must operate continuously, sometimes 24 hours a day, without error. Therefore, specifications such as ease of use, modularity, fault detection, etc., are important to keep a system operational in the conditions at sea.
A former Turkish Navy officer who worked on the Milgem corvettes told Naval News on condition of anonymity that one of the most important features of the YAKAMOS sonar is its perfect integration with the combat management system.
“In addition to being integrated to GENESIS or ADVENT combat management system, YAKAMOS sonar is integrated with Torpedo Countermeasure system. The connection of the sonar and Torpedo countermeasure system is very important to decrease reaction time when an unexpected underwater threat emerges.”
He also mentioned that the user-friendly consoles that provide all the data needed on one screen without any complexity, and the good display functions that can be used efficiently even in stressful scenarios.
The ex-officer also revealed that the YAKAMOS sonar performed better than the hull-mounted SQS-56 sonar in terms of detection range and bearing sensitivity in polygon tests conducted in different seas, seasons and weather conditions. “The detection of underwater contacts ahead of a known sonar can be considered a success of the YAKAMOS sonar,” he said. He also said that unlike similar hull-mounted sonars, YAKAMOS has a mine detection mode as an additional feature that can be used in an area threatened by sea mines where no MCM vessel is available.