Turkey launched on October 3 the 140-meter amphibious ship Bayraktar, the first of two vessels that are part of a domestic Landing Ship, Tank (LST) project.
The two ships boast local design and construction and are aimed at meeting the operational requirements of the Turkish Naval Forces Command, according to the website of Anadolu Tersanesi, the company that constructed the ship.
Speaking at the launch ceremony in Istanbul, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey was importing 80 percent of its defense needs back in 2002.
"Now we have managed to reduce foreign dependence in the defense industry to about 40 percent,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey aims to become self-sufficient by 2023.
He noted that the world had entered a “geopolitical restructuring process,” with “all significant conflicts, rivalries, and struggles within this process taking place in our close proximity.”
For this process to act out favorably for Turkey, a “strong army, a powerful defense industry, and an advanced high-tech manufacturing infrastructure” are needed, Erdoğan said.
"If not supported with military strength, diplomacy can let you down. We cannot tolerate this,” he added.
The Bayraktar is a fast amphibious vessel of upper-intermediate size with powerful armaments.
The ship’s primary function will be amphibious operations and troop transfer, while it will also be useful for swift humanitarian interventions and search-and-rescue work in disaster areas, its construction company says.
The company adds that the ship, which weighs 7,125 tons, is 140 meters long and 20 meters wide, reaching a speed upwards of 18 knots at full load. It is expected to serve for 40 years.
The amphibious ship will have a crew capacity of 12 officers, 51 petty officers, 66 privates, a 17-strong joint operations personnel and a total of 350 marines.
The Bayraktar is capable of carrying 1,180 tons of mixed vehicles or cargo. It has also a helicopter field.