Turkish F-16s are empowered: Atmaca Anti-Ship Missile Integration raises the bar for these seasoned fighters

In recent developments reported by Turkish media, the nation is actively working on the creation of the first domestic configuration of the Atmaca anti-ship missile system compatible with the F-16 fighter jets. This integration of the Atmaca system will significantly enhance the firepower of the F-16, bolstering its anti-ship capabilities. As the Turkish Navy Command continues to receive deliveries of Atmaca missiles, they are simultaneously working on the development of the very first air-launched version of this weapon, which was previously deployed exclusively on surface warships. This strategic decision aligns with the advancements in munition technology, enabling the Atmaca weapon system, a cornerstone of Turkish naval warfare capabilities, to enter air-to-surface operations.

The Atmaca Block-I anti-ship missile will breathe new life into Turkey’s aging F-16 PO-III/PO-IV aircraft by linking them with advanced firepower. Efforts for this integration will focus on modernizing mission planning technologies, fire control, and data connectivity, adapting to the paradigm of air-to-surface warfare.

As a result of these initiatives, Turkish F-16 aircraft will be equipped with the ability to engage ground targets using Atmaca missiles in conjunction with IIR-guided SLAM-ER missiles. The development efforts by Roketsan will provide Turkey with its own version of the American air-launched AGM-84L-1 missile. However, it is worth noting that the air-launched Atmaca will not be equipped with a booster motor. The integration of the Atmaca anti-ship missile with the F-16 fighter jets marks a significant step forward in enhancing Turkey’s maritime defense capabilities.

ATMACA (Accipiter) is an all weather, long range, precision strike, anti-ship cruise missile, developed by Turkish missile manufacturer ROKETSAN. The Atmaca will enter service with the Turkish Navy to gradually replace the country’s existing inventory of Harpoon missiles.

The result of this effort was the development of the Atmaca anti-ship missile, equipped with an active radar guidance system, with an estimated range of an incredible 250 kilometers. After rigorous testing, the inaugural firing of the Atmaca missile from the corvette Milgem TCG Kinaliada (F-514) took place in November 2019. Atmaca demonstrated its power with a successful hit on a static target positioned on the sea surface. Subsequent tests were conducted on June 18, 2021, with the corvette Kinaliada firing another Atmaca missile.

 

The missile makes use of its global positioning system (GPS), inertial navigation system, barometric altimeter and radar altimeter to navigate towards its target, while its active radar seeker pinpoints the target with high precision. The Roketsan-developed Atmaca missile features a minimal radar cross-section and Super Sea Skimming capability.

 

With a range of more than 220 kilometres (140 mi), this guided missile poses a major threat for targets situated beyond the line of sight due to its high explosive fragmentation warhead. Its modern data-link provides ATMACA with the ability to 3D mission planning, update targets, reattack and terminate the mission. Missile is ultra sea-skimming as it approaches the target. This suggests that the missile has the ability to travel close to the water’s surface and evade detection until it reaches a distance of 18-20 kilometers from the target platform.

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