ARES Shipyard and METEKSAN Defence, which initiated Turkey’s first indigenous Armed Unmanned Surface Vehicle (AUSV) program in October 2020, have announced that the prototype vessel - ULAQ AUSV - has been launched and sea trials have started.
In a joint press release, Utku Alanç, Chief Executive Officer of ARES Shipyard, and Selçuk K. Alparslan, General Manager of METEKSAN Defence, said: "In the field of Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs); we would like to proudly announce that we have launched the first Armed Unmanned Surface Vehicle of ULAQ series, and have initiated the intensive sea trials period. From now on, our next short term target is to complete the sea trials successfully and carry out the guided missile firing tests. Since the very first announcement of ULAQ Unmanned Systems, we have encountered significant interest from our country and our allies. This interest and support has given us great incentive to design and build unique, state-of-the-art solutions. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Turkish Ministry of National Defense, The Presidency of Defense Industries and Turkish Naval Forces and all our citizens who have provided full support since the very first launch of ULAQ program.".
ULAQ has been built from advanced composites, has a range of 400 kilometers, a speed of 65 kilometers per hour, day/night vision capabilities and encrypted communication infrastructure. It can be operated from mobile vehicles and headquarters or from sea platforms such as aircraft carriers or frigates, and it will be used for missions like intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, surface warfare, asymmetric warfare, escort missions, strategic infrastructure protection.
The prototype AUSV’s missile systems include two L-UMTAS antitank missiles and four 70mm Cirit antitank / antipersonnel missiles, supplied by Turkish missile systems provider Roketsan. Firing tests are planned towards the end of the first quarter of 2021.
Along with the missile systems, the AUSV will be equipped with a variety of communication and intelligence systems - like jamming and electronic warfare systems - corresponding to diverse operational needs. AUSV will be able to carry out joint operations with complementary forces such as UAV’s, AUAVs and TUAVs. Furthermore, AUSV is not only a remotely controlled vehicle, but also (and more importantly) an autonomous vehicle that hosts artificial intelligence.
It is stated by ARES Shipyard and METEKSAN Defence that after the first prototype vessel, other USVs for the operations like surveillance and intelligence, mine counter measures, anti-submarine warfare, fire-fighting and search and rescue missions will be ready to manufacture.