Turkey is reportedly planning to turn its ‘F-35 carrier’, TCG Anadolu, into a base for assault drones. This could be a result of Turkey’s failure to procure Lockheed Martin F-35B fighter jets as the US imposed sanctions on Ankara following its S-400 deal with Russia.
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Named after the peninsula of Anatolia, which forms the majority of the landmass of Turkey, TCG Anadolu is the Turkish Navy’s first light aircraft carrier.
It was aimed at meeting the requirements of the Turkish Armed Forces which included carrying out long-distance combat, or humanitarian relief operations.
The warship, which was designed on the basis of the Spanish Juan Carlos I light aircraft carrier, had been prepared for the short take-off and vertical landing of the US Lockheed Martin F-35B fighters.
However, the F-35 deal did not materialize between Turkey and the United States, as Ankara was kicked out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program following its decision to go ahead with the S-400 contract with Russia.
TCG Anadolu can carry aircraft, helicopters, marines, vehicles, and various supplies. In the absence of F-35B fighters, Turkey is planning to turn the warship into a base for attack drones.
Turkey has become the newest drone superpower as it boasts the technical knowledge and the manufacturing capacity for advanced combat drones.
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Haluk Bayraktar, chief executive officer of Baykar, Turkey’s premier autonomous technology company, said that the company is already planning to build a new combat drone that can take off and land on TC Anadolu.
“In order for unmanned planes to take off and land on aircraft carriers, their design must be durable, as they are subjected to very high overload shocks. Our goal is to develop a new combat unmanned combat aircraft that will successfully land and take off on the LHD “Anadolu” within one year, ” said Bayraktar.