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Turkish Navy in successful live fire exercise at South African range

A Turkish Navy vessel firing its cannon near the Denel Overberg Test Range.The Turkish Navy has successfully completed a complex live-fire exercise with the assistance of Denel at a southern Cape weapons range.

The main aim of the Barbaros Turkish Naval Task Group - 2014 (TMTG-14), which departed Turkish Naval Base Gölcük on March 17 on a 102 day circumnavigation of Africa, was to conduct live weapon firings of various missiles at the Denel Overberg Test Range.

Speaking exclusively to defenceWeb aboard the frigate TCG Gediz (F-495), Rear Admiral Ali Dede, Barbaros Turkish Maritime Task Group Commander, spoke of the success of the exercise.

“There was a delay in finalising some things during our first week of the visit,” Dede explained, “but we had planned for a two-week stay in Cape Town, so we performed the exercise in the second week.”

Continuing, Dede noted that the delay was not an inconvenience, as it allowed the crews of the Task Group to see Cape Town a week earlier.

“It was one of the main aims of our journey around Africa. So we accomplished it, it was a success, so we are happy now,” enthused Dede.

The Task Group, comprising the frigates TCG Gediz (F-495) and TCG Orucreis (F-245), the corvette TCG Heybeliada (F-511) and the replenishment tanker TCG Yarbay Kudret Gungor (A-595), departed Table Bay Harbour last week and proceeded east to the Denel Overberg Test Range on the southern Cape coast before returning to Simons' Town three days later.

The facilities provide by the Denel–owned weapons range allowed the Turkish Navy to perform a number of weapon firing scenarios not possible in Turkey. In a first for the Turkish Navy, the two frigates and the corvette were able to fire missiles and guns against fast drones coming from different directions, with many of the systems operating in auto-mode.

“It was very good for us, it was very successful.” Dede said, “It was a chance to try all the versions of gunnery systems and the crew, with target coming from different directions.”

The use of Airbus Defence and Space drones allowed the Turkish Navy to test their tactics, starting from the long-range and short range missiles to the main guns and then the Close-In Weapon Systems.

Previous life-fire exercises in Turkey made use of aircraft towing target drogues, which, for safety reasons, only allowed the use of manual mode.

When operated in auto-mode, the weapon system detects, identifies the target and then fires the missile or gun automatically. As this was the first time the Turkish Navy tested the systems in auto-mode, they gained a lot of trust and confidence in the systems.

The first day on the range was for rehearsal, with the live firings taking place on the subsequent two days. High seas only complicated the already complex exercises but did not detract from the success.

The frigate Orucreis had the opportunity to engage two drones at once, using its three 25 mm Close-In Weapon Systems.

“Because it is coming from two different directions, in auto mode, they fire at the same time in two directions,” Dede explained, “So it was also very interesting.”

The use of two missiles against one drone was also tested, with two Sea Sparrow short-range-missiles firing within two seconds of each other. As Dede says, this was also very successful and “impressive.”

In total, eight missiles were fired:
- 4 x RIM-7 Sea Sparrow short-range anti-aircraft missile at aerial targets
- 1 x RIM-7Sea Sparrow at a surface target
- 1 x SM-1 Standard medium-range surface-to-air missile
- 1 x RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM)
- 1 x RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) infrared homing surface-to-air missile

Although the Sea Sparrow had been tested against static targets before, this was the first time the missile had been fired at a mobile surface target.

The Close-In Weapon Systems tested were the Phalanx in surface-mode and the Turkish designed remote-controlled 12.7mm STAMP (Remote Controlled Stabilized Machine Gun System).

Live firings were also carried out with the 76 mm canon aboard the Gediz and Heybeliada and the 5 inch/54 gun on the Oruçreis.

Dede was very complimentary about the Denel test facilities and personnel, saying that the coordination and preparation was very good. It would appear that the Turkish exercise scenario was the most complex that the Overberg Test Range had performed to date.

“It was very good for them, they controlled the very speedy targets” Dede said, confirming that the Denel personnel had learned a lot from their experience with the scenarios.

Dede said that “from our side it was very good, we accomplish our aims”.

Given the importance of the exercise, live video was fed via satellite from the ships to senior officers in Turkey. It was a huge relief for Dede that the weapons test had been concluded so successfully, particularly so as his Chief of the Navy, Adm Bülent Bostanoğlu, was the first foreign guest of Rear Admiral Mosuwa Hlongwane, the new Chief of the South African Navy (SAN).

Prior to the weapons firing exercise, the Task Group performed joint boarding exercises and special training aboard ship with the SAN whilst in harbour.

After a successful two week stay in Cape Town, during which 1 500 Capetonians visited the three warships in two days, the Barbaros Turkish Naval Task Group departed Simon's Town on Friday 16 May for their next port call, Maputo in Mozambique. On board are two SAN officers, who will be dropped off abeam Durban.

As the Task Group entered False Bay, they were joined by SAN frigate SAS Spioenkop (F147) for a PassEx (passing exercise), during which basic communication drills and basic manoeuvring exercises were performed.

Dede was very complimentary about his interaction with the SAN, saying that he was impressed with the South African Navy’s ships and the professional officers and crew.

The SAN, he says, is “small in size, but professional in all areas. You have the submarines, the frigates, a small but complete navy.”

The Commander of the Task Group hoped that the future would bring more opportunities to share experiences between the two navies.

Task Group will maintain an anti-piracy tasking from the Mozambique visit all the way to the Suez Canal, but will spend five days specifically in the Gulf of Aden and the transit corridor on anti-piracy duties.
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