Competition with Turkey rises below the surface

Competition with Turkey rises below the surface

Turkey’s recent announcement of plans to significantly strengthen its naval force is seen in Athens as an attempt to level the playing field with Greece, amid an increase in tension between the two neighbors over maritime borders and energy rights in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean.

Speaking at the delivery ceremony of a new type of Firtina self-propelled guns at the BMC factory near Ankara on Monday, Turkish President Erdogan said that the first unmanned aircraft carrier, the frigate Istanbul and the Piri Reis submarine would be joining the Turkish fleet this year.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s defense minister, Hulusi Akar, warned Greece on Monday to “keep out of trouble” as he carried out an inspection of the new Piri Reis, one of six Type-214, or Reis-Class submarines currently under construction by Turkey, using German technology

These submarines are almost identical to Greece’s T-214s (these are the Papanikolis, Pipinos, Matrozos and Katsonis) and rely on the same German-designed technology. Some analysts point out that as a result of being newer, the Turkish submarines will have some improved features over the much older Greek versions.

Ankara’s plan is to induct one into its fleet every year over the next six years. The project, however, has already run into delays and it is likely that the timeline will not be accomplished as planned. 

Ankara attributes these delays to Berlin’s displeasure over Turkish operations in Syria, though the delivery of the Piri Reis indicates that the program is back on track, increasing pressure on Athens.

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