Reports are surfacing at several sources that China may have been able to convince Turkey not to grant permission for NATO ships to pass through the Bosphorus to reach the Black Sea. Although details of the exact Chinese argument to Turkish authorities still remain elusive, a delegation of key Chinese diplomats is said to be involved.
China and Turkey are yet to officially confirm or deny the allegations.
According to Chinese diplomatic sources, China will readily veto and decision by the UN Security Council against Russia regarding the developments in Ukraine following a UK call for an emergency UNSC meeting.
Turkey’s Power Over The Straights
The Montreux Convention regarding the regime of the straights is a 1936 international agreement that gives Turkey control over the Bosphorus Straights and the Dardanelles, and regulates the transit of naval warhips. The convention gives Turkey full control over the straights and guarantees the free passage of civilian vessels in peacetime while restricting passage of naval ships not belonging to Black Sea states. The terms of the convention have been a source of controversy over the years, most notably concerning the Soviet Union’s military access to the Mediterranean Sea.
Signed on 20 July 1936, it permitted Turkey to remilitarize the straights. In went into effect on 9 November 1936 and was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on 11 December 1936. it is still in force today with some amendments.
A controversial project named Kanal istanbul attempts to create a secondary, artificial canal that will be parallel to the Bosphorus and also connect the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea. It may be a possible by pass to the Montreux Contention and allow greater Turkish autonomy with respect to the passage of military ships.
The US has reportedly earmarked $10 billion to upgrade its “dumb” B61 tactical nuclear bombs with a newer, guided version dubbed B61-12.
B61 is a tactical nuclear warhead capable of delivering a pre-determined nuclear yield of up to 50 kilotons, large enough to level a whole city. Under a nuclear sharing agreement, these warheads have been deployed to bases in Turkey, Italy, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Various sources indicate the number of B61 warheads kept in Turkey to be around ninety, forty of which have been “assigned for host country use” under strict NATO supervision.
The B61-12 upgrade involves the installation of a modern INS navigation system that will enable a pilot to release the nuclear bomb with a much higher accuracy, making it unnecessary to use maximum yield to achieve a similar effect, minimizing unwanted collateral damage on the civilian population.
Turkey has started engineering work to adapt a naval version of its successful UMTAS missile system for its fleet of Seahawk helicopters, TR Defence sources reported on Sunday.
The project is managed by ARMERKOM, a Turkish scientific and research institute operated by the Turkish Navy, Cengiz Topel Naval Aviation Command, and Turkey’s leading missile and aerospace company Roketsan, maker of a large family of rockets and guided missiles such as the Cirit.
The new missile will operate similar to the American Hellfire system and will be named Mizrak-U. First integration of the naval missiles on Turkish Seahawks is expected in 2015.
UMTAS is an extremely effective infrared guided, fire and forget capable anti-tank missile with a range of 8 kilometers (5 miles). It can be used against both static and moving targets day and night, including under adverse weather conditions.
(Reuters) – The head of NATO expressed concern on Monday over Turkey’s decision to co-produce a missile defense system with a Chinese firm, saying he expected Ankara to choose a system that was compatible with those of other allies.
Turkey has said it is likely to sign a $3.4 billion missile defense deal with a Chinese firm that is subject to U.S. sanctions, although its decision is not yet final.
The United States has expressed serious concerns to Turkey, saying the Chinese missile defense system would not work with NATO systems.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said choosing a defense system was a national decision.
“What is important for us is that the system acquired by the individual country … must be able to work and operate with the systems in other countries. I expect that Turkey will also comply with that,” the former Danish prime minister told Reuters, speaking in Danish.
“I of course expect that each allied nation makes sure of this. It comes with being a NATO member,” Rasmussen said, speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Copenhagen.
Rasmussen said he understood Turkey had not yet made a final decision and was still in talks on the new defense system.
Turkey’s Defense Ministry said last month it favored China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp’s (CPMIEC) FD-2000 missile defense system over more expensive rival systems from Russian, U.S. and European firms.
The United States announced sanctions on CPMIEC in February for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
NATO diplomats say buying a system that did not work with NATO systems would hamper the ability of NATO allies to work together, undermining a principle of the 28-nation alliance.
Some NATO diplomats said integrating a Chinese system into NATO’s defenses would raise cyber-security concerns and issues about NATO swapping technical data with a Chinese firm.
Turkey sees a growing threat of spillover from the war in neighboring Syria, as well as wider turbulence in the Middle East, and has been scrambling to bolster its air defenses.
Turkey has said the selection was not politically motivated, and that the Chinese offer met Turkey’s main demands of price and the ability to place much of the production in Turkey.
For China, the deal would be a breakthrough in its bid to become a supplier of advanced weapons.
Some Western defense analysts have said they were surprised by Turkey’s decision, having expected the contract to go to Raytheon Co, a U.S. company that builds the Patriot missile, or the Franco-Italian Eurosam SAMP/T.
The United States, Germany and the Netherlands each sent two Patriot batteries to southeastern Turkey this year after Ankara asked NATO to strengthen its defenses against possible missile attack from Syria.
This story keeps getting weirder and more interesting: RT (formerly Russia Today) reports based on a “reliable source” that Turkey allowed Israeli air-force jet bombers to use one of its military bases to attack the Syria port of Latakia, where the government had stored Russian-made Yakhonts anti-ship missiles. Israel believed the armaments were destined for Hezbollah, which would use them in the next war in Lebanon to neutralize Israel’s naval forces. For a discussion of the weapons system and the role it might play in such a battle, read this report.
Given that this story keeps getting curiouser and curiouser, I believe the story is very possibly true. So now we have to ask ourselves a number of questions:
Why would a Turkish government nursing a deep grudge against Israel for killing 9 of its citizens in the Mavi Marmara massacre, all of a sudden turn around and lend an air base for an attack on a third country? Further, why would Turkey cooperate with Israel in attacking Syrian missiles destined for Hezbollah? Turkey has no quarrel with the Lebanese militant group.
There are several answers. Turkey is opposed to the Assad government and anything that will weaken it may cause Turkey to relax its former animosity toward Israel. Also, Hezbollah has escalated its involvement in the Syrian conflict by sending thousands of its fighters to capture Qusayr. This would be a way for Turkey to make the Islamist group pay a steep price for its intervention. It would be yet another way for both Israel and Turkey to say to Assad that he faces a looming alliance among former enemies who are now united (at least covertly) in their opposition to his rule.
Second, if Israel wanted to attack Syria without violating its airspace it could just as easily have flown north from Israel to a point west of Latakia and attacked from the Mediterranean. Why did the Israeli air force feel it needed to attack from Turkey? The answer may lie in the fact that attacking from Turkey would allow Israel to attack from the north rather than the west. Syria would not have expected an attack on Latakia from the north and therefore might not have defended against it. This would give the Israeli attackers an element of surprise.
If this account is true, it proves that Middle East relations are based far more on shared interests than on principles. In other words, pragmatism and even cynicism is the rule of the day. Turkey, which trumpets its dedication to the Palestinian cause and its implacable opposition to Israel’s Occupation, can do the unthinkable and allow Israeli military forces to use its sovereign territory to attack an enemy. So much for the notion of Muslim solidarity. And so much for the Islamist criticism of Muslim states (Saudi Arabia, etc.) that allow non-Muslim military forces (U.S., etc.) to attack fellow Muslim states, thereby betraying Islam.
For Erdogan, the opportunity to bloody Assad’s nose trumped all those considerations. The other problem with Turkey’s decision is that it will give Israel the impression that since Turkey granted access to its military bases, it will also fold regarding its support of the Palestinians.
Alternately, we may see that Israel retracts its opposition to paying $1-million to each of the families of the victims of the Mavi Marmara attack. Israeli capitulation on that score may signal a quid pro quo for Turkey’s help in attacking Latakia.
One way to gauge this is by whether Erdogan follows through on his commitment to visit Gaza. He was supposed to come last month. But the turmoil in both Egypt and Turkey caused a delay. If he does visit Gaza Israel should know this alliance is extremely tactical and targeted at a very narrow range of issues. If he doesn’t, then we’ll know that Israel has succeeded in co-opting yet another opponent of Occupation.
Finally, it’s interesting that the source for this report is a Russian media outlet. Remember that Russia’s missiles were targeted and destroyed in Israel’s attack. Vladimir Putin has not responded in any way to this. Alex Fishman, in yesterday’s Yediot, took his silence as a confirmation that Putin is at heart nothing but a cynical weapons merchant who doesn’t care what happens to his weapons as long as he’s paid for them. As with so much of what he wrote in that article, I think it’s a crock.
Israel’s attack is an affront not only to Hezbollah and Assad, but to Russia as well. Putin is not the disinterested arms dealer Fishman makes him out to be. There will be an accounting for this act of aggression by Israel. The only question is where and when and under what circumstances. If RT’s reporter learned her information from a Russian intelligence source, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
I am trying through DC and Turkey-based journalists with U.S. or Turkish military-intelligence sources to confirm this story.
Military inspectors from Turkey and the United States will fly over Russia’s territory starting from Monday as part of the international Open Skies Treaty, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.
“In the period between July 22 and July 26, experts from Turkey and the United States will make a surveillance flight above the territory of Russia on board Turkey’s CN-235 plane,” the ministry said in a statement.
Russian experts will also be on board the aircraft, to oversee the proper use of surveillance and filming equipment.
The Open Skies Treaty, which entered into force on January 1, 2002, establishes a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the territories of its 34 member states to promote openness and the transparency of military forces and activities. Russia ratified the deal in May 2001.
Under the treaty, each aircraft flying under the Open Skies program is fitted with a sensor suite including optical panoramic and framing cameras, video cameras with real-time display, thermal infrared imaging sensors, and imaging radar.
The image data recorded during the observation flights can be shared among all signatories to support the monitoring of compliance with existing or future arms control treaties.
TR Defence’s North America correspondent and acting editor-in-chief Hasan Karaahmet has interviewed Mr. Mike Boots, Patriot Turkey Program Manager at Raytheon Defense Systems, to shed light on some of the most common questions Turkish defense enthusiasts ask regarding Turkey’s T-LORAMIDS long-range air defence program.
Hasan Karaahmet: Mr. Boots, thank you for agreeing to talk to our readers. As a time-tested, battle-proven system, many countries around the world depend on the Patriot, both NATO and non-NATO. What is the driving force behind Patriot’s huge commercial success to this day?
Mike Boots: No other existing system has the proven combat experience of Patriot to engage evolving threats; and no other air and missile defense system has demonstrated the reliability and lower cost of system ownership. Patriot is the backbone of NATO’s lower tier defense, and as you know, Patriot is currently deployed in Turkey by NATO members Germany, the Netherlands and the United States.
Hasan Karaahmet: What is the current level of deployment around the world?
Mike Boots: There are currently over 200 Patriot fire units deployed around the world with Raytheon’s 12 Patriot partners. More than 40 Patriot fire units are now in construction or are undergoing modernization.
Hasan Karaahmet: How about the US? How long does the US military itself plan on using the Patriot air defence system?
Mike Boots: The US Army has committed to fielding Patriot beyond the year 2048.
Hasan Karaahmet: What’s Raytheon’s policy on investments in Turkey?
Mike Boots: Raytheon has a long history working in Turkey — from ground based air defence systems like Stinger and Hawk to tactical radars like Firefinder and Sentinel. From our family of air-to-air missiles like AMRAAM and AIM-9 to naval command management systems like Genesis. Raytheon is committed to partnerships with Turkish industry.
Hasan Karaahmet: Any cooperation prospects in regards to Patriot?
Mike Boots: We are already working closely with several Turkish defence companies to produce Patriot components for export to other countries. For example, Aselsan is a key strategic partner for Raytheon on the Antenna Mast Group for the UAE Patriot system. Roketsan is also a key strategic partner, producing components of GEM-T missile for the UAE and Kuwait. Also, Pagatel is producing command and control shelters, and AYESAS is working on the command and control integration.
Hasan Karaahmet: Turkey’s Undersecreteriat for Defence Industries, the SSM, has adopted a procurement policy favoring local production and technology sharing. What are Raytheon’s views on this?
Mike Boots: Both Roketsan and Aselsan have been awardedRaytheon’s prestigious Supplier Excellence awards for the past two years for the excellent work they have performed on these programs. We anticipate increased global Patriot work share for Roketsan and Aselsan and have recently signed long-ter, agreements with these great companies for collaboration on advanced technology co-development projects in the area of high altitude missile defense. In addition to these strategic partner companies I mentioned, many other Turkish defence companies have the experience and skills we look for in our suppliers. As we win in other countries, they will get the opportunity to compete for additional work for those programs.
Hasan Karaahmet: Can the Patriot system be operated in conjunction with an Aselsan radar or launch a Turkish-made missile with comparable capabilities?
Mike Boots: Patriot can use data and information from a wide variety of sources and can interface with a variety of equipment, including missiles. We would need to know the specific sensors or effectors we are talking about in order to adequately answer that question.
Hasan Karaahmet: Does the US government or certain laws restrict the transfer of know-how on any subsystem or component of Patriot to Turkey?
Mike Boots: No! Turkey is a valuable ally of the United States and a NATO partner. Turkey’s T-LORAMIDS program fulfills an important NATO air and missile defence commitment.
Hasan Karaahmet: Certain reports appeared in the Turkish defence media indicate that the Patriot procurement has been tied to Turkey’s being granted access to F-35 source codes and the SM-2/Aegis technology for TF-2000 class frigates. What can you tell me about this?
Mike Boots: Intellectual property (IP) rights, such as software source codes, are often an issue to be negotiated in any sale of new technology. A customer’s desire for IP rights must be balanced with the rights of the inventor and owner of those rights through the negotiation process.
Hasan Karaahmet: Mr. Boots, how does Patriot compare to the other Western contender in T-LORAMIDS, Eurosam’s SAMP/T? What makes Patriot the better of the two?
Mike Boots: As I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, no other existing system has the proven combat experience of Patriot to engage evolving threats. No other air and missile defence system has demonstrated the reliability and lower cost of system ownership. Patriot is NATO’s lower tier defense with 200 Patriot fire units deployed around the world.
Hasan Karaahmet: In the past, we’ve published statements from mainly US sources that if Turkey opts for a non-Western solution, integration of the SAM system into NATO networks can be problematic. Can you explain to our viewers as to why this is the case?
Mike Boots: We have read and heard similar statements from various sources. NATO is very serious about protecting critical technology from falling into the hands of potential enemies. Patriot is a key element of NATO air and missile defence capability and works seamlessly with the NATO command and control architecture and other NATO defence systems. NATO would be very careful about what other systems might be connected to the architecture.
Hasan Karaahmet: What’s the future for Patriot? Is it going to continue to evolve with new capabilities beyond the GEM=T and PAC-3?
Mike Boots: The Patriot modernization roadmap will ensure Patriot remains the most advanced air and missile defence system in the world. If Turkey chooses Patriot for their long-range air and missile defense system, Turkish industry will have opportunities to participate in co-developing new technologies to help keep Patriot on the leading edge of technology.
Turkey is strongly leaning toward adopting a Chinese long-range anti-missile and air defense system, Turkish procurement officials said, even though it may be impossible to integrate the system with its existing NATO architecture.
One senior procurement official familiar with the program said the Turkish government has concluded that the Chinese proposal was technologically satisfactory, allowed technology transfer and was much cheaper than rival proposals.
The decision to select the Chinese contender awaits final approval from Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The decision would be finalized and officially announced at the next meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Committee, chaired by Erdogan, which oversees major procurement decisions. No date has been set for the meeting.
In January, Turkey restructured the $4 billion program, dubbed T-Loramids, which had originally been constructed as an off-the-shelf purchase. The contenders’ bids would remain valid, but the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) procurement office would ask bidders to submit parallel, co-production solutions. Erdogan ordered the launch of feasibility studies on “potential co-production” of the system.
T-Loramids consists of radar, launcher and intercept missiles.
The same month, SSM wrote to the bidders and asked them to send letters of intent for any co-production deal. The bidders are a U.S. partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, offering the Patriot air defense system; Russia’s Rosoboronexport, marketing the S-300; the China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp., offering its HQ-9; and the Italian-French consortium Eurosam, maker of the SAMP/T Aster 30.
T-Loramids, has been designed to counter both enemy aircraft and missiles. Turkey has no long-range air defense systems.
But diplomats and analysts warn that Turkey may not be allowed to integrate the Chinese-Turkish system into Turkey’s mostly NATO-owned early warning assets.
“I cannot comment on how the [US] administration would react to that. But I can tell you that integrating a Chinese or Chinese-Turkish air defense system into NATO assets may not be a good idea,” a US diplomat here said.
A Western industry source said that US officials have warned the Turkish bureaucrats several times about the potential difficulties in achieving interoperability if Turkey decided to go for a Chinese or a Russian architecture.
“I see that the Turks remain defiant. But I do not think it would be practically possible to integrate either the air defense or the anti-missile components of the planned Turkish-Chinese architecture into NATO radars,” a London-based Turkey specialist said. “The Turks would have the same problem if they chose the Russian system, but I think for the Americans, China represents a more direct threat.”
About half of Turkey’s network-based air defense picture (radars) has been paid for by NATO, said a Turkish defense official familiar with NATO work. They are part of the NATO Air Defense Ground Environment. He did not comment on potential problems if Turkey wanted to make the planned system interoperable with these assets.
To defend against missile threats, Turkey needs satellite and dedicated ballistic missile detection and tracking radar like the NATO radar deployed last year in Kurecik.
For the anti-aircraft component, Turkey needs an overall picture for data fusion. The Patriot system, for instance, can detect threats with its own radar. So does the Chinese system. But without integrating into a full air picture, the Chinese system could not work efficiently, officials said.
“Turkey can always decide to build a stand-alone system. But in that case, abstracting the air defense system from NATO assets would mean that Turkey will lose half of its radar capabilities,” said one defense analyst here.
He said Turkey would need interface data to make its own air defense architecture interoperable with NATO assets, primarily data on the identify friend or foe system.
“This is top secret and cannot be installed into any Chinese system,” the analyst said.
Another major question, he said, is “how would Turkey have in its possession a made-in-China IFF system, and how would that system be integrated into its fleet of F-16 aircraft?
“There is an important degree of incompatibility here and all in all any Chinese-Turkish co-production program would look problematic,” he said.
The Air Force’s most advanced strike aircraft, the F-35 Lightning II, is a vital capability that the nation needs to stay ahead of adversary technological gains, the Air Force chief of staff told a Senate panel here, June 19.
Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Defense, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said air superiority is critical to the nation’s security and how the U.S. military plans to fight.
“The air superiority this nation has enjoyed for 60 years is not an accident and gaining and maintaining it is not easy,” Welsh said. “It requires trained proficient and ready Airmen and it requires credible, capable and technologically superior aircraft. I believe the F-35 is essential to ensuring we can provide that air superiority in the future.”
The F-35 is an unprecedented fifth generation fighter combining stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully integrated sensors and network enabled operations, and state-of-the-art avionics. However, design issues and production costs have put the F-35 program in real jeopardy.
Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall told the committee he believe those concerns have been addressed.
“The department’s and my focus has been on the efforts to control costs on the program, and to achieve a more stable design so that we could increase the production rate to more economical quantities,” Kendall testified. “Indications at this time are that these efforts are succeeding.”
The Air Force intends to use a portion of the proposed fiscal 2014 budget to support current defense strategic guidance and modernization programs like the F-35.
“Potential adversaries are acquiring fighters on par with or better than our legacy fourth generation fleet,” Welsh told the committee. “They’re developing sophisticated early warning radar systems and employing better surface to air missile systems, and this at a time when our fighter fleet numbers about 2,000 aircraft and averages a little over 23 years of age — the smallest and the oldest in the Air Force’s history.”
Welsh said America needs the F-35 to stay a step ahead and to “make sure the future fight is an away game and to minimize our risk to our ground forces when conflict inevitably does occur.”
“The F-35 is the only real, viable option to form the backbone of our future fighter fleet,” he said. “The F-35 remains the best platform to address the proliferation of highly capable integrated air defenses and new air-to-air threats.”
The US military has destroyed more than 77,000 metric tons of military equipment — including mine-resistant troop transport vehicles — as it prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan in late 2014, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
More than $7 billion worth of military equipment is no longer needed, or would be too expensive to ship back to the United States, and much of it is being shredded and sold locally as scrap metal, the Post reported, citing US military officials.
Donating the gear to the Afghan government is difficult because of complicated bureaucratic rules, plus US officials do not believe the Afghans could maintain the gear.
Plus, it would also be too expensive to sell or donate the gear to allied nations because of the cost of getting the equipment out of Afghanistan.
Items being shredded by contract workers from Nepal and other countries for sale as scrap metal include mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles, the Post said.
More than 24,000 MRAPs were built for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan starting in 2007 in a crash program that cost some $45 billion, according to Pentagon figures.
The MRAPs’ V-shaped hulls help deflect the force of explosions, and the vehicle’s higher chassis keeps troops further from the main force of the blast from improvised explosive devices.
US commanders believe the MRAPs helped save thousands of soldiers’ lives, and cite figures that show the number of casualties from IEDs dropped more than 80 percent after the vehicles were introduced.
Some 2,000 of the 11,000 MRAPs in Afghanistan have been labeled “excess,” the Post reported.
“We’re making history doing what we’re doing here,” Major General Kurt Stein, who is overseeing the Afghanistan drawdown, told the newspaper. “This is the largest retrograde mission in history.”
When the US military withdrew from Iraq it drove much of its gear across the border into Kuwait, sent it back home on ships, or donated it to the Iraqi army, which has the infrastructure to maintain vehicles with complicated mechanics.
US officials however told the Post they do not believe the Afghan army could maintain such vehicles or other sophisticated equipment.