Thursday, 9 June 2022

Made For Export - Türkiye’s TS1700 AIP Submarine

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
Türkiye's Navy is set to dominate the depths of the Aegan Sea and beyond through the introduction of six locally-assembled Type-214TN Reis class submarines featuring air-independent propulsion (AIP) throughout the 2020s. [1] Their entry into service is to be followed by the design and production of the MILDEN class of submarines, a fully indigenous type of hunter-killer submarine that will be armed with indigenous 533mm AKYA heavyweight torpedoes, 220+km ranged Atmaca anti-ship missiles (AShMs) and 1000+km ranged Gezgin land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs).
Türkiye already has significant experience in the design, construction and upgrading of submarines. STM Naval Engineering is currently constructing the Type 214TN Reis class submarines for Türkiye's Navy as well as extensively upgrading its older Type 209 class submarines. [2] In 2016, STM secured a $350 million contract to modernise Pakistan's Agosta 90B submarines, outbidding the French company that built them more than 40 years ago. [3] STM and Dearsan Shipyard have also designed several types of small submarines, whose story is covered here. [4]
Experience gained with the extensive upgrading of Türkiye's Type-209s and Pakistan's Agosta-90Bs, and the assembly of the German-designed Type-214TNs in Türkiye has already led to the country's first indigenous submarine design by STM Naval Engineering: The TS1700. The 60-metres long TS1700 is a diesel-electric AIP submarine that has been specifically designed for export, potentially breaking into a market that is currently dominated by French, Russian, Chinese and German designs. The TS1700 was first unveiled during IDEF 2021 along with the STM500 small submarine. [5]
The TS1700 features diesel propulsion and an AIP system that gives it an endurance of some 90 days, just surpassing that of the larger Type-214. The submarines can operate at high speed on diesel power or switch to the AIP system for silent slow cruising, staying submerged for several weeks. The TS1700 can reach a depth of more than 300 metres, and in addition to its base crew of 25 can carry a special forces detachment of six. Eight torpedo tubes located in the bow enable the launch of sixteen 533mm torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, compared to twelve torpedoes and missiles carried onboard the Type-214. [6]
The TS1700 can be armed with both Western-designed armament as well as recently introduced Turkish counterparts. This either consists of the 533mm AKYA heavyweight torpedo or the Atmaca anti-ship missile. The AKYA entered serial production in 2021 after a ten-year design process. The ship-launched version of the Atmaca entered service with Türkiye's Navy in 2021, with a submarine-launched variant currently being designed. This missile will boast a range of 220+km, giving the TS1700 or any submarine equipped with it serious standoff capabilities.

Though the TS1700 is still a conceptual design, concrete interest could see STM further flesh out the design. A number of countries worldwide are currently in the market for new submarines, or will have to replace their ageing submarines in the coming decade. This includes Colombia, Peru and Chile in South America. This continent, which so far has seen little arms imports from Türkiye, has already been a focus point for STM. [7] Other countries that could express an interest in the submarine include Indonesia, Morocco, and closer to Türkiye, Bulgaria and Romania.

Türkiye's knowledge and technology base, political neutrality and attractive prices are almost certain to make it a competitive option for meeting the foreign demand for modern submarines. The Type-214TN Reis class will likely be the last foreign submarine design acquired by Türkiye and the country's journey to (naval) self-sufficiency is arguably the fastest of its kind occurring today, surpassing even that of South Korea. Countries that until recently supplied weaponry to Türkiye might in ten years instead be looking to buy their own armament there, underlining just how fast its defence industry has transformed.

The upcoming MILDEN class of submarines.

[1] Analysis: Why do Turkey’s upcoming Reis-class submarines have potential to affect balances in the region?
[2] Turkish Navy Type 209-1200 AY Class Submarine Modernization Project 
[3] Turkish Modernization of Pakistan’s Agosta 90B Submarines Continues
[6] Australian Navy Eyes German Type-214 Submarine?
[7] STM Exhibited Marine Projects and Striking UAV Systems in Colombia

From Atak To TF-2000: 100 Years Of Turkish Naval Shipbuilding