ARES Shipyard and Meteksan Defence, which initiated Turkey’s first indigenous Armed Unmanned Surface Vehicle (AUSV) programme – the ULAQ – last October 2020, have launched the prototype and begun sea trials, the companies announced on 12 February.
“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,” commented Utku Alanç, CEO of ARES Shipyard, and Selçuk K Alparslan, General Manager of Meteksan Defence, in a joint statement.
ULAQ is built from advanced composites and features a 400km range, 65km/h speed, day/night vision capabilities, encrypted communications and the ability to be operated from mobile and fixed ground assets or from naval vessels. The system will be used for missions such as ISR, surface warfare, escort missions or strategic infrastructure protection, among other applications.
The prototype AUSV’s missile systems include four cells for CIRIT and two for L-UMTAS, both supplied by Roketsan. Firing trials are planned for the end of 1Q/2021. ULAQ will also be equipped with various C4I and EW solutions to support diverse operational needs. It will be able to carry out joint operations with complementary manned and unmanned systems. Furthermore, ULAQ is not simply a remote-controlled vehicle; it is also – and more importantly – an autonomous vehicle hosting artificial intelligence.
The two companies have indicated that variants for specific roles and missions are ready for production, following the launch of the prototype vessel.