LIMA 2023 – Meteksan Savunma unveils new Ulaq SAR unmanned surface vehicle while its Nazar laser dazzling system goes naval

Paolo Valpolini

Established in 2006 to coordinate defence projects and activities of high-tech companies operating part of Bilkent Holding, Meteksan Savunma unveiled at LIMA 2023 its Ulaq SAR, a further development of the Ulaq family developed in team with Ares Shipyard

While the Ulaq armed unmanned surface vehicle model dominated its stand, the new product unveiled at LIMA by Meteksan Savunma was present in a smaller scale model. Teamed with Ares Shipyard, providing the hulls, Meteksan developed the antisubmarine warfare version of the Ulaq, which should be delivered in October 2023 to the Turkish Navy, EDR On-Line was told.

Smaller than the armed version, the Ulaq SAR is 7.5 metres long, it is fitted with a tethered UAS that can fly at 15 or 30 metres height even on the move; this is done at economic speed, between 5 and 10 knots, allowing a top view that considerably helps when the mission is to locate a human being floating within waves. The VTOL UAS landing pad is located ahead of the superstructure,

The UAS is provided by a third party that was not mentioned, the most challenging aspect being the winch that must take in count not only the USV transitional movement but also that induced by waves, avoiding to tension the tether and brake it.

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On port side of the Ulaq SAR we find the bigger life raft, capable to host up to 25 people, while on starboard a smaller raft, up to 10 people, is carried. A navigation radar and an electro-optic system are installed on the vessel mast, a remotely controlled search-light allowing for night operations at close range, search being mainly carried out exploiting thermal sensors installed on the drone.

The Ulaq SAR is powered by a diesel engine driving a single shaft, and can reach a maximum speed of 30 knots. It is remotely controlled by a crew of two, the captain who handles the ship, and the payload operator who deals with the UAS and sensors. These can operate ashore, in a ground control station, or aboard a ship, as the Ulaq SAR can be embarked aboard of corvette- or frigate-size naval units, although it was originally designed for Coast Guard use. It can also be fitted with a 12.7 mm remotely controlled weapon station, making it a multi-mission USV, to be employed for Exclusive Economic Zone surveillance.

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Beside the Ulaq SAR, in the Meteksan Savunma stand we could find the model of the Nazar, a laser-based jamming system developed to counter IR-guided missiles. A soft-kill system, it jams IR sensors blinding the missile. The Phase 1 development was done on a land installation, the power source and control system being installed into a shelter. The laser power can be trimmed up to 1.5 kW, which Meteksan considers sufficient for dazzling purposes, the aim not being to destroy the incoming missile. It operates on five wavelengths, visual, near IR, Short Wave IR, Medium Wave IR and Long Wave IR, and has a 15-17 km effective range, depending on weather conditions, and constitutes the first defensive layer against IR-guided missiles. According to information obtained at LIMA the system is in the final testing phase and is considered TRL 7. The product obtained is not simply a demonstrator, as the land-based version will find operational use in naval base protection, EDR On-Line understood.

Phase 2 has already started, its aim being to reduce size and weight to allow the Nazar to be integrated on naval platforms. The timing is set by that of the new Turkish Navy frigate project, as these will be the first ships to be fitted with the Nazar. According to Meteksan Savunma the system has already been installed on a ship, no details on trials being currently available.

Photos courtesy Meteksan Savunma and P. Valpolini