Otokar excites again with Tulpar IFV

Tulpar IFV from Otokar as shown in the IDEF 2013 international defense fair in Istanbul.

Turkey’s vehicle manufacturing powerhouse Otokar has unveiled a new 35 ton armored infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) at the IDEF 2013 international defense industry fair.

Appropriately named ‘Tulpar’ after the Turkic mythological horse with wings that protects warriors in battle, the vehicle is operated by a crew of three (driver, gunner and commander) and can transport a squad of nine fully equipped soldiers to the front lines while providing fire support to other units. A front located 810HP diesel engine and automatic transmission allow for a maximum speed of 70km/h and a range of 340 km.

Tulpar is armed with the Mizrak turret assembly featuring a 30mm dual-fed automatic main gun and 7.62mm coaxial secondary gun, all wired to a state-of-the-art fire control system (FCS) provided by Aselsan. All the guns are remotely controlled and can land their shots on target with high precision courtesy of an array of 8 high-tech cameras with night vision/infrared assist, zoom, laser range finder and target designator, also giving Tulpar 360 degree situational awareness day and night, under all weather conditions.

Tulpar’s modular armor allows for different levels of protection depending on configuration, quick swap of any damaged components during maintenance and provides protection against up-to 25mm armor piercing projectiles, a best-in-class in this category of vehicles. Furthermore, an arc shaped, enforced composite structure underneath the hull allows Tulpar to survive mine blasts with up to 10kg of TNT. Tulpar comes equipped with an automatic fire suppression system, an APU and provides full NBC protection to its occupants.

Designed with the needs of 21st century land warfare, Tulpar is fully network-centric. Standard systems include command and control computer, software defined digital radios, satellite communications, FCS and laser threat warning sensors. Otokar is considering the integration of the L-UMTAS long-range antitank missiles as a future upgrade option for the TSK and export customers.

 

2016: Turkey’s defense purchases to reach $8 billion

Turkey will buy around 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II aircraft. EPA photo

Turkey will spend up to $8 billion in defense purchases as its exports will reach $2 billion in 2016, four years from now, according to a major estimation by the procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM).

The present figures are around half of that.

The expectations in the SSM’s updated 2012-2016 strategic program are realistic given the money Turkey would pay for expensive systems – such as the F-35s or the U-214 submarines from Germany – over the next few years, as well as the rapid increase in its exports mainly to Islamic countries, according to one defense analyst.

Turkey is in talks with four key foreign suppliers on a $4 billion Long Range Air and Missile Defense Systems project.

The country’s mainly exports armored vehicles of many sorts, rockets and other ammunition, as well as military electronics like radios, to more than 10 Islamic countries. It also sells aviation equipment as part of offset deals.

Fighter jet program delayed

Separately, Turkey has delayed a program to develop a domestic fighter aircraft for the Air Force nearly two years, the strategic document has revealed. “A conceptual design … for the fighter aircraft will be completed by the end of 2014,” the SSM’s program said.

The defense minister at the time, Vecdi Gönül, announced on Dec. 14, 2010, that Turkey would build a fighter aircraft, to be constructed together with a friendly country or fully by itself, by the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic in 2023.

Gönül told reporters after a meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Committee that the SSM would start talks with the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the country’s main aerospace company, for a “conceptual design” of a fighter aircraft and a jet trainer to be built after the year 2020.

At the time, Gönül said the TAI would have two years for the conceptual design. He said Turkey’s newly designed fighter aircraft “would be a next-generation type, replacing the [U.S.-made] F-4Es and functioning well with the F-16 and the F-35 … This is effectively a decision for the making of Turkey’s first fighter aircraft.”

However, the new strategic document calls for the completion of the conceptual design by 2014. “The original timetable must be wrong. It’s impossible to complete the conceptual design of a new aircraft in two years. The estimate is more reasonable now,” said one senior procurement official.

Turkey will buy around 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II aircraft built by a team led by the U.S. firm Lockheed Martin, but Gönül said at the time that they were planning to develop the new fighter with a partner other than the United States.

Turkey previously had South Korea in mind, but one South Korean official in Ankara said South Korea was at a more advanced stage than Turkey, and was currently developing its KF-X model with Indonesia. “We can’t say at this point whether it will be with South Korea or not,” Gönül said.

Sex for military secrets

"The prostitute “accidentally” drives into the targeted officer’s car, seduces him, secretly films him in the act, and blackmails him"

How does a prostitute make an officer reveal military secrets? Rather easily, according to evidence assembled against a group of Turkish officers who allegedly ran a sex-for-secrets ring.

The prostitute “accidentally” drives into the targeted officer’s car, seduces him, secretly films him in the act, and blackmails him. At least 80 people, 60 of them serving officers, have been arrested in connection with the “escort girls” case. This was launched in 2009 after police in the western port city of Izmir were tipped off by an anonymous e-mail. (Because of the highly sensitive nature of the case the prosecution has refused to reveal all of the evidence and a formal indictment is still pending.) Arrest warrants for 50 more officers were issued this month, after the shooting down of a Turkish fighter jet by Syria, on the ground that the honey trap was aimed at army personnel working at radar installations. Nineteen prostitutes have also been arrested pending trial.

The army’s pro-Islamic critics have eagerly seized on the case as further proof of its decadence. At least 362 serving military officers are being held in a separate case called “Ergenekon” on charges of seeking to overthrow the government of the Justice and Development Party (AK). The army, NATO’s second largest, has toppled four governments so far. In 2007 it threatened to do so again when the AK nominated Abdullah Gul as president. The fact that Mrs Gul covers her head was deemed by the generals to pose a threat to Ataturk’s republic. AK refused to budge, Mr Gul was duly elected and the army’s hold has been weakening ever since.

Yet even the generals’ fiercest detractors are beginning to worry that efforts to bring them under civilian control may be degenerating into a vendetta. Western observers agree that, although the army almost certainly contains coup-plotters, overzealous investigators may have doctored some of the evidence against officers and that innocents are being caught in their net. Paradoxically prosecutors have shown little interest in well-documented atrocities committed by the army during its scorched-earth campaign against Kurdish separatist rebels. Ihsan Tezel, a defence lawyer in the “escort girls” affair, insists that the prosecution’s case rests exclusively on the contents of the hard drive of a computer seized from the home of a businessman who is accused of being one of the ringleaders of the gang.

Another ongoing sex-for-secrets case brought against 54 officers in Istanbul has run into trouble. At a recent hearing, a 52-year-old woman named as one of the prostitutes broke down in tears as she produced a medical certificate proving that she was a virgin. And there is no evidence to suggest that the defendants were selling secret documents. The presiding judge has called for all of them to be acquitted. A final verdict is expected by the end of July.

Gareth Jenkins, an expert on the Turkish army, says that the barrage of cases has had a devastating impact on army morale. “How can they function effectively when they live in constant fear of being arrested?” he asks. Amid Turkish threats of retaliation against Syria, the question is growing more pertinent by the day.

Economist

Brazil and Turkey, a Natural Defense Partnership Deepens

The defense ministers of Brazil and Turkey met in Brazil last month, where they signed a letter of intent to improve bilateral military ties and increase technology transfers. In an email interview, Oliver Stuenkel, an assistant professor of international relations at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo, discussed the military relationship between Brazil and Turkey.

WPR: What is the extent of the current defense relationship between Brazil and Turkey in terms of military-to-military relations and defense-industrial ties?


Oliver Stuenkel
: The defense relationship between Brazil and Turkey is still small and incipient, yet in 2003, Brazil and Turkey signed an agreement to work together in defense matters. As with the broader bilateral relationship, there is significant potential for stronger cooperation in defense. The recently signed letter of intent formalizes a move to “develop cooperation between the defense industries of both countries, including technology transfer and joint projects.”

An initial focus will lie on initiating personnel exchanges between the armed forces, developing platforms for regular meetings and knowledge exchange, and working together on issues around cybercrime. For example, Turkish soldiers are set to participate in a Brazilian military center that focuses on jungle warfare in the Brazilian Amazon. Both Brazil and Turkey are keen on increasing their capacity to develop modern military technology on their own rather than depending on foreign equipment. In some areas this is already the case — as with Brazil’s Embraer — but neither country currently possesses cutting-edge knowledge in naval technology, space technology, defense against cyberattacks or unmanned aircraft. The ability to develop such technology would not only provide both countries with greater strategic autonomy, but also allow them to export high-tech military equipment.

WPR: What are the main opportunities and challenges for the two as they attempt to strengthen the relationship?


Stuenkel
: While they face very different regional security threats, both countries are intent on modernizing their armed forces. Brazil, for example, is keen on strengthening its naval capacity as it seeks to boost its dissuasive force to protect the natural resources located off the Brazilian coast in the South Atlantic. With commercial shipping trends dramatically increasing the strategic importance of the South Atlantic, the Brazilian government is also beginning to articulate a vision for a South Atlantic Security Space. It is currently building a fleet of nuclear and diesel-engine submarines to give it a meaningful presence there.

At the same time, both Brazil and Turkey may increasingly assume political tasks that require them to increase their military capacity. Brazil is engaging in defense cooperation with many of its neighbors, and has led the Minustah peacekeeping mission in Haiti since 2004. The Brazilian army is now withdrawing from Haiti, but we can expect to see a growing number of Brazilian peacekeepers in many future conflicts around the world.

NATO-member Turkey has an active deployment in Afghanistan, and its soldiers participate in U.N. peacekeeping missions around the world, including difficult missions such as the ones in Lebanon, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

WPR: What are both sides looking for from heightened defense ties, in terms of both political goals and concrete outcomes?


Stuenkel
: Since the end of the Cold War, and particularly over the last decade, both Brazil and Turkey have sought to diversify their partnerships. Turkey continues to be a candidate for European Union accession, but it has also established stronger ties with other rising powers such as India and China. In addition, it has built an impressive diplomatic presence in Africa, indicating that Turkey may seek to extend its sphere of influence to all the territory that once formed the Ottoman Empire. Brazil, for its part, has spent the past decade strengthening ties to Africa as well as emerging states such as China, India and Turkey. In addition, the Brazilian-Turkish partnership is an important element in both countries’ strategies to strengthen their global economic and political presence. For Turkey, Brazil is the most important actor in South America, while Turkey is Brazil’s preferred partner and platform to strengthen its presence in the Middle East.

WPR

Brazil, Turkey vow to deepen military ties

Brazil and Turkey’s defense chiefs vowed Monday to boost military ties and  technology transfers between the two emerging nations.

At a meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim and his  visiting counterpart Ismet Yilmaz signed a letter of intent formalizing a move  to “develop cooperation between the defense industries of both countries,  including technology transfer and joint projects.”

Yilmaz, at the start of a week-long visit to Brazil, has expressed interest  in the South American nation’s aerospace technologies, cybernetics and the  unmanned aerial craft.

At a leadership meeting in October, the two countries moved toward a closer  relationship with vows to boost trade and strengthen ties.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said on a visit to Ankara that trade  between the two countries stood at $2 billion in 2011, and Turkey’s President  Abdullah Gul said the countries have a target of reaching $10 billion “in a very  short period of time.”

Co-development of a new regional airliner by Brazilian aerospace giant Embraer and Turkey’s TAI is expected to be among the projects topping their bilateral agenda.

AFP/NOW

Turkey’s T-129 attack helicopter prototype P6 maiden flight completes successfully

The first Turkish-built prototype of the T129 attack helicopter during flight tests over the Akinci airfield, Ankara.

The first flight, conducted by Turkish Aerospace Industries’ (TAI) test pilots, of the T129 “P6” prototype helicopter has timely and successfully been completed at TAI’s facilities in Akıncı, Ankara, the company said today  

The ATAK Program was initiated with the aim to meet the Attack/Tactical Reconnaissance Helicopter requirements of the Turkish Land Forces Command (TLF) by the integration of high-tech avionics equipment, hardware and software being developed ‘in-house’ by Turkey.  

The first flight of the P6 prototype marks an important milestone in the ATAK Program and is the first of three T129 prototypes which are being assembled in Turkey.

The helicopter is based on the Agusta Westland A129 Mongoose which has been the mainstay of the Italian army and has been operational and battle-proven in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The T-129 ATAK is an enhanced version of the Italian-built A129, and its development is now the responsibility of TAI, with AgustaWestland as the primary partner.

 Prior Crash

The original prototype being built in Italy crashed in March 2010 during a test flight, leaving its Italian test pilot and its test engineer needing hospital treatment for minor injuries.

Turkey originally planned to order 51 A129s with 40 options back in 2007 but the following year Turkey undertook to fully build the platform.

Under the agreement, TAI has integrated an indigenous mission computer, avionics, weapons systems, self-protection suites and the helmet-mounting cuing systems. TUSAS Engine Industries (TEI) is manufacturing the LHTEC CTS800-4N engines under licence. Under the agreement, Turkey has full marketing and intellectual property rights for the T-129 platform. There are also no restrictions imposed on Turkey for the export or transfer of the platform to third countries other than Italy and the UK.

Turkey’s options in handling the Syrian crisis

by Hasan Karaahmet

As Syria’s Assad regime continues to struggle in containing the widespread uprisings and demonstrations for a more democratic, progressive political system throughout the country, neighboring Turkey is facing an increasingly difficult humanitarian crisis just north of the long border.

Last Thursday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mr. Ahmet Davutoglu spoke with his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Moallem, about the changing security environment in Syria and implications for Turkey. Movement of Syrian troops north near the Turkish border in an attempt to control the outflow of Syrian refugees into Turkey was among the critical subjects the two ministers discussed. It is no secret now that the situation at the border and increasing numbers of Syrian refugees in Turkey, now approaching some 20,000, is creating tensions between the two countries.

Thus far, Turkey’s AKP government has followed a bi-polar political strategy in handling the Syrian crisis. It publicly criticized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while quietly advising the same regime on how to contain and eliminate the opposition using tangible, progressive reforms. On the other hand, Turkey also hosted open platforms for Syrian opposition leaders on Turkish soil, in order to provide guidance and discuss their strategies in toppling the Assad regime and achieving a higher political presence in Syria.

Currently, Turkey seems to have three options in peacefully diffusing the threatening situation beyond its southern border and stopping the inflow of Syrian refugees.

  • (1) The first option Turkey is suggesting to Syria involves removal of Bashar al-Assad’s brother, Maher al-Assad, who leads the Syrian Republican Guard and is primarily responsible for killing and mistreatment of a great number of Syrian opposition members. Turkish authorities have wisely avoided condemning Bashar al-Assad and kept their focus on Maher instead. According to a June 18th report by Al Arabiya, an emissary of Turkish Prime Minister Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan traveled to Syria to ask Bashar to fire his brother. This suggestion requires Maher to be exiled to Turkey or another suitable country where he would be monitored and kept away from militancy and interfering with Syrian internal politics. Turkey points out that such a move would portray Bashar as a truly progressive, reformist leader who is willing to exile his brother for the greater good of Syria.

Some western analysts generally unfamiliar with the region point out that this option undermines the role of Maher in keeping different factions of the Syrian Armed Forces together and suggest that exiling Maher may push Syria into an explosive infighting and eventually even partitioning. I, however, disagree with this observation as I believe it is the Assad family as a whole and its surrogates within the Syrian state that provide the said unifying function. Power of the al-Assad clan is currently personified in Bashar al-Assad, and any decision he makes, even as radical as firing his brother, will be readily digestible by the forces in Syria that determine the political and economic dynamics in that country. So long as the Alawites’ traditional hold of economic power in Syria’s western coastal cities is not damaged, their support of Bashar and the al-Assad family in general will remain strong.

That said, we should not forget that the former Syrian President, Bashar’s father Hazef al-Assad did successfully exile his younger brother Rifaat al-Assad, also a military man, after a coup attempt, a move that demonstrated the reach of his power and strengthened his regime for years to come. I believe the same may as well be the case for his sons.

  • (2) The second option Turkey is working on for Syria is similar to the Lebanese political model, where a confessional system based on a 1932 census is in effect that just about equally divides power among Lebanon’s Christian and Muslim factions. Proposal for Syria would similarly allocate the power, and hence resources, somewhat equally among the country’s majority Sunni Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds, and minority Alawites, Christians and Druze. This new system would create strong checks and balances that would prevent either side from dominating the economy or monopolizing the politics of Syria.

Turkey is ready to provide all the assistance needed for accomplishing this. If completed successfully, it would score an important point for Turkey in the country’s ambitious mission to become a prestigious leader and a secular democracy model for the Islamic world.

  • (3) The third option proposes the legalization of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (MB). At the moment, membership in the group is not only outlawed in Syria, but also punishable by death. Turkey says legalization of the Syrian MB and turning the group into a legitimate political party would limit its militancy and draw the movement closer to a more peaceful, political struggle. This would, in effect, dramatically defuse the Syrian crisis.

Al-Assad is however seems to be currently against the idea as it bears the potential for eventually growing in power via unification of the majority Sunni base turning into electoral votes and undermining the established power of Al-Assad’s Baath party and the economic monopoly of Syria’s Alawites.

It will be interesting to see the events unfold and watch Turkey make its moves before the crisis grows into an even bigger refugee crisis, and with the movements of even more Syrian military units into the border region, starts posing a national security danger for Turkey.

TR Defence

Aselsan bags national missile system contract

An artist's conception of the Turkish Medium-Range Air Defence System (T-MALAMIDS)

Turkey’s leading military electronics company Aselsan and the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries, or SSM, have signed two major contracts for the development of indigenous low and medium altitude air defence missile systems, the company revealed in a special press release on Monday.

Request for proposal for the low level air defence system (T-LALADMIS) was first issued by SSM in September 2008, and entails the procurement of 18 self-propelled, armored air defence systems, support and training equipment, maintenance tools, spare parts and other relevant services and documents required for the efficient operation of the systems. An option also exists for 27 additional such systems in the immediate future.

Also awarded to Aselsan is a medium-range air defence system development program, dubbed T-MALADMIS, and it entails direct procurement of one medium altitude air defense missile system composed of one battalion headquarters and headquarters company and three batteries, each of which has a sufficient amount of launchers, missiles, radars, command-control and communication systems and other support equipment.

Cost of Aselsan’s T-LALADMIS program design and development is 314,920,445 EURO, while T-MALADMIS amounts to 241,392,218 EURO.

Turkey is also seeking to acquire 12 long-range air defence systems as part of SSM’s $4 billion T-LORADMIS program. USA-based Patriot PAC-3 and Russia’s S-300 are currently favorites in a tough competition against China’s HQ-9 and European Aster-30 air defence systems.

Greek Privatization Drive and Strategic Opportunities for Turkey

The Parthenon, Athens

As economic indicators point to an imminent threat of painful restructuring of the Greek public debt and conseuently significant loss of capital for major lenders in the Eurozone, pressure on Greece’s ruling party PASOK and Prime Minister George Papandreou keeps piling on. Even though the austerity measures the PASOK government has been trying to implement have caused widespread protest and resistance from just about every sphere of the Greek society, Papandreou has no choice but to push for the implementation of further measures and accelerate sales of certain Greek government and public assets.

This creates a rare opportunity for cunning countries with strategic interests in Greece, and in a larger sense in the rest of Europe. Russia and China are two of them, Turkey with its rising economic star and increasingly independent, aggressive foreign policy is another.

Chine sees Greece as an extremely efficient gateway into Europe via which the Asian superpower can ship and distribute its immense line of consumer goods, dramatically increasing its reach to the European markets in the continent’s north and west. It has already shown interest in acquiring controlling shares for the Thessaloniki (Selanik) and Pireas ports.

Russian energy giant Gazprom is aiming at DEPA Gas in order to strengthen the Bear’s grip on the European energy network at large, while RWE of Germany is gunning after Greece’s Public Power Corporation in collaboration with French and Czech investors.

Turkey seems to be in an adventageous position to make similar moves as well, for the same motivations as China and Russia plus three more: (1) Its considerably large economy and GDP growth rate in the region, (2) close geographic proximity to Greece, and (3) historical sensitivities and certain national security concerns of its own.

Timing could not have been better for Turkish firms, with or without support from the AKP government, to invest in Greece. Among the publicly owned assets lined up for privatization by Greece are LARCO, a major mining company, TrainOSE, a railway company, Hellenic Telecommunications, which already signed an agreement with Germany’s Deutsche Telekom for 10% of its shares, Athens International Airport, Thessaloniki Water Supply & Sewerage and four Airbus A340-300 passanger jets. These assets present a buying opportunity below market place.

Beyond these companies mentioned, there are two other strategic assets at the moment that pose a very special opportunity for Turkey from a national security perspective: Hellenic Aerospace and Hellenic Defense Systems.

Let’s face it. Even though Greece has never posed an existential threat for Turkey in the last 1,000 years, it has managed to be somewhat of an annoyance, forcing Turkey to set aside billions of liras to create and maintain its Aegean army. Greece’s territorial attempts in Greece, menacing politics in regards to the Orthodox Patriarch in Istanbul or the Turkish minority in Western Thrace, as well as continuous violations of Turkish territorial waters and airspace in the Aegean Sea have kept Turkey on both diplomatic and military red alert.

Combined with the advancements in Turkey’s own defence industry and its exponential growth in recent years, acquisition of these two Greek national assets by Turkish firms can be both economically rewarding and strategically incisive.

If Turkey means to become a true regional power, this opportunity in Greece cannot be passed for only China, Russia and a few others to spoil. Time has come for Turkey to take bold steps.

Hasan Karaahmet

US presses Turkey to join Libya air bombing

The Obama administration criticized five key military allies Wednesday to take on a greater share of the NATO-led air campaign against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces, illustrating the strains of a three-month intervention in Libya that has no time frame for an exit.

The pressure on Germany, Poland, Spain, Turkey and Netherlands comes as the alliance continues with intensified airstrikes on Libya’s capital.

Gates said Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands should enhance their limited participation in noncombat operations by joining in strike missions against ground targets, U.S. officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal NATO deliberations. They said Gates pressed Germany and Poland, the two countries not participating at all militarily, to help in some form.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton likely will restate Gates’ argument Thursday when NATO nations and Arab governments participating in the air campaign meet in the United Arab Emirates.

Responding to the US criticism, Turkish National Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul said Thursday that the Turkish prime minister, government and Turkish president would decide on a possible role for Turkey in air bombing of Libya when the issue came up on the agenda of the government.

I have not yet received Mr. Gates’s demand and his words on the issue, Gonul told reporters in southern province of Antalya on Thursday.

Our decision on Libya has two dimensions. One of them has to do with the embargo while the other involves humanitarian assistance. We are contributing to the embargo with four frigates, one submarine and six F-16 jets. We have a principled decision on not participating in the “No Fly Zone”. The decision is valid today. Once Mr. Gates’s demand reaches the Turkish government, our Prime Minister, the whole government and our President would assess the situation, Gonul also said.

Agencies