The Turkish Ministry of National Defence has announced that the country is to develop a new anti-submarine torpedo. The weapon will be in the standard NATO 324mm-diameter lightweight class and is to be deployed from aircraft, helicopters and from ship-based launchers such as the ubiquitous Mark 32. It will likely replace American-made Mark 46 and Mark 54 torpedoes in Turkish service.
The project – codenamed “ORKA” – will be a collaboration between the Turkish Defence Industry Presidency (SSB) and defense contractors Roketsan and ASELSAN. Roketsan will take the lead in the development program as it is planned to integrate a lot of that company’s experience and components from its AKYA heavyweight torpedo project into the ORKA.
The new torpedo project has been mooted for several years now, but the sudden announcement seems to be part of the Turkish establishments push to move to indigenous production of critical weapons and component systems. This is evidenced by the SSBs press release on ORKA, which states that with development of the weapon “…foreign-source dependency in this area will come to an end.”
With Turkey facing U.S. sanctions because of its adoption of Russian military technology, as well as component procurement issues over the use of Turkish weapons in conflicts, the perceived need for home-made solutions is understandable. It is also possible that the Turks expect to need their own anti-submarine weapons systems in the near future to support their aspirations interests in the Mediterranean.
These have been all too graphically demonstrated in the last year with Turkey having multiple spats with neighbouring Greece, and being accused of encroaching into several countries economic zones while conducting offshore surveys. Turkey is also alleged to have been actively gathering intelligence on the Greek submarine fleet and its positioning.
The fact that both Roketsan and the SSB made statements that the ORKA project was being launched and afforded top priority because of the need to defend “the Blue Homeland” – the waters disputed with Greece and others – would indicate that Turkey sees the need to be able to produce indigenous anti-submarine weapons as imperative to any future plans in the region.