In a statement released on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the Royal Navy told Breaking Defence that “no one knows anything of these discussions.” This includes teams from the United Kingdom’s Submarine Delivery Agency, Defence Nuclear Organisation, and shipbuilder BAE Systems.
President Erdogan stated that the United Kingdom wanted to promote the shipbuilding of uncrewed submarines. In a speech he gave on Tuesday in Istanbul, he was quoted as saying that “the UK wants to cooperate with us on the construction of submarines,” which was published on the Middle East Eye news website based in London. One source particularly indicated that the United Kingdom was “interested in joint production of uncrewed submarines with Turkey.” This information was provided to the outlet by the source.
Erdogan did not provide any specifics regarding how the possible alliance could function, nor did he clarify whether or not the intention is to collaborate on the production of ships. Regardless, it would appear that his public views are not in line with what is happening in the UK.
Turkiye and UK have established strong ties in the aviation industry. Recently Turkish Defence Ministry’s interest in a Type 23 frigate added a new dimension to the relations. But such close ties between UK and Turkiye have two sides.
UK has recently established AUKUS with USA and Australia to provide submarines to that continent. The program includes nuclear submarines. The UK may prefer Turkish engineering and workforce because of its low cost. Turkish expertise in unmanned systems reached an undeniable level. This might have another advantage for the British agenda.
United Kingdom’s recently appointed ambassador to Turkiye, Jill Morris, presented her credentials to President Erdoğan on March 22nd. This topic may have been brought up during the meeting.