Istanbul Naval Shipyard (INSY) has launched the first Istanbul-class frigate, TCG Istanbul (F-515), for the Turkish Navy on January 23. The launch ceremony was planned to be conducted on January 17, but it was postponed due to the heavy snow in Istanbul. The ceremony was attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar, Deputy Minister Muhsin Dere, Head of Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) Ismail Demir, Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler, and Commander of the Naval Forces Admiral Adnan Özbal. It is planned to deliver the first Istanbul-class ship to the Turkish navy in 2023. Along with the launching ceremony of TCG Istanbul (F-515), the first welding ceremony of the third ship of the Pakistan Navy MİLGEM corvette project was also held at Istanbul Naval Shipyard.
The Istanbul-class frigates are a planned group of four frigates for the Turkish Naval Forces. Developed under the MILGEM national warship program as the I-class frigate, the Istanbul class is an enlarged version of the Ada-class anti-submarine corvette, with enhanced endurance and Mark 41 vertical launch system for multi-role capability. On 19 January 2017, Turkish Navy held a ceremonial steel cut for the lead ship TCG Istanbul (F-515). Istanbul was laid down on 3 July 2017 and is expected to commission in 2021. The Istanbul class has its origins in the Turkish MILGEM project for developing national warships and warship building industry. The program calls for the construction of a warship family in three classes, where all vessels would be designed with high degree of commonality.
The Istanbul class is an enlarged variant of the Ada class and will feature a slightly larger hull for improved endurance. In addition to retaining the guns, self protection and anti-submarine warfare systems of the Ada class, the Istanbul class will have twice the number of anti-ship missiles and will be equipped with the Mk.41 VLS, capable of firing Atmaca, HISAR, RIM-66 Standard, RIM-162 ESSM and VL ASROC missiles, along with other systems for improved multi-role combat capabilities. The experience and technological know-how gained with the Istanbul class will play an important role in determining the design characteristics and the development process of the TF-2000-class frigates, as well as the selection of the systems and equipment which will be used on these significantly larger and more capable warships.
Along with ASELSAN, Turkey’s leading defense company Havelsan is a main business partner in the frigate project. The project also has around 80 subcontractors producing more than 150 systems. Around two-thirds of those subcontractors are domestic. Domestic suppliers will provide the Istanbul’s weapon and electrical systems, along with auxiliary machinery systems, including diesel generator sets; integrated platform control and monitoring systems; chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN) threat units; detection and diagnosis systems; coveralls; valves; electrical power systems; cables; tables and panels; air compressors and fire extinguishing systems. The majority of domestic suppliers working on the projects, other than the manufacturing company STM Defense Technologies Engineering and Trade Inc. and its main business partners.