In late 2013 Turkey decided to buy an LHD (amphibious assault ship) from Spain. Turkey is following Australia, which in 2007 held a competition and also selected the Spanish Navantia class LHD design. This is a 27,000 ton ship that is very similar to the U.S. San Antonio class LPD. Both LHDs and LPDs look similar. The main difference is that LHDs are designed more to land troops via helicopter while LPDs put more emphasis on using landing craft. Both classes of ship can carry out helicopter and beach landings.
The Navantia is 230 meters (713 feet long), has a crew of about 240, and can carry 1,100 troops, 100 vehicles, landing craft, and up to 12 helicopters. Landing craft often include two LCVPs (mainly for carrying about 40 infantry) and four LCMs (can carry 80 infantry or a tank or two smaller vehicles) and several dozen AAVs (amphibious tracked infantry carriers). There is also a 40 bed hospital. The Navantia has a ski-jump flight deck that will enable it to use vertical takeoff warplanes like the Harrier or F-35B, which can carry more flying off the ski jump deck instead of taking off straight up. Armament usually consists of four 20mm autocannon and four 12.7mm machine-guns.
The Australian versions of the Navantia, the 27,800 ton Canberra class, cost about $1.2 billion each and the first of two enters service this year. LHDs give you the ability to quickly send troops to any hot spot in the neighborhood. This makes some of Turkey’s neighbors (like Greece, Cyprus and Israel) nervous because of strained diplomatic relations.