Turkey sends Greece a message with heavily armed drone gunboat reveal

Turkey’s new drone ship is a message to Greece about its interests in the Mediterranean, defence writer Caleb Larson wrote in the National Interest on Wednesday.

Turkish defense companies Ares Shipyard and Meteksan recently revealed the jointly built ULAQ gunboat, which is expected to enter service in December.

The ship can be used for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, surface warfare, asymmetric warfare, escort and strategic infrastructure protection missions.

The gunboat and attachments for two types of locally made missiles were designed with “maximum indigenousness”, Larson said, citing artistic renderings of the ULAQ. Ares and Meteksan’s announcements “left no room for doubt about what their ULAQ gunboat is intended for”, he said.

“We have once again understood the importance of the “Blue Homeland” defence, Economic Exclusive Zone protection, protection of maritime borders of the Turkish Peninsula especially with recently emerging disputes … May ULAQ bring the best of luck and success to Turkish Armed Forces and to Blue Homeland,” Meteksan CEO Selçuk Alparslan had said, according to Larson.

Turkey is pursuing what it calls its “Blue Homeland” naval expansion doctrine, which lays claim to wide-ranging territorial waters in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas – resulting in a series of territorial violations with Greece.

The NATO allies are engaged in a political and military standoff over territorial claims to the eastern Mediterranean. Hopes for de-escalation were dimmed in October when Turkey announced naval exercises and sent its research ship, the Oruç Reis, back into contested waters to continue a search for hydrocarbons, a move that had sparked the dispute on Aug. 10.

“Make no mistake – Ankara is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to Turkish interests in the Mediterranean,” Larson said.