Turkey is developing a mini-attack submarine to operate in near-shore waters and may export it in the global arms market. Experts say this type of submarine could become a “game changer” in the future of undersea warfare.
Despite their smaller size and shorter range than conventional submarines, the mini-submarine that Turkey is building is extremely effective for close-to-shore operations, where its noise is easily disturbed. mixed with the sound of ordinary ships.
Starting production this year, the mini-submarine STM500 will become the smallest ship that Turkey has ever built. It weighs 549 tons, is 42 meters long and 8.5 meters wide. The ship can travel at a maximum speed of 18 knots, a cruise speed of 5 knots, and can dive to a depth of 250m.
This mini-submarine can go as far as 3,500 nautical miles with a diesel engine and 75 nautical miles on a battery.
The vessel can be equipped with an optional air-independent propulsion (AIP) system, which, when combined with the diesel engine, will provide a range of 4,000 km.
The ship can be fitted with a variety of sonars, opto-electronic periscopes and antennas to support electronic warfare.
The space in the ship is enough for 18 sailors and a task force of 6 members, can stay underwater for 30 days and carry 4 torpedo tubes, 8 heavy torpedoes or cruise missiles.
According to experts, Turkey’s mini-submarine program can be useful for the country to balance its power with Russia in the Black Sea and become a tool to realize its larger ambitions.
Currently, Turkey, along with Romania and Bulgaria, are three NATO members that can legally deploy submarines to the Black Sea. Article 12 of the Montreux Convention prohibits non-Black Sea states from sending submarines to this area.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has six Kilo-class submarines. As a result, Turkey is the only member of NATO that can monitor Russia’s naval deployment from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean.
Mini-submarines can also become an attractive option for countries that want to meet NATO standards but lack the budget to buy American and Western weapons and equipment, such as Ukraine , Pakistan.