Roketsan to Unveil Guided 122mm Rockets

Turkish missile manufacturer Roketsan is preparing to unveil a guided version of its popular TR-122 Sakarya multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), TR Defence sources confirmed on Tuesday.

The new version has the same range, composite rocket engine and warhead options as its unguided twin but also features a new passive laser seeker that allows the artillery rocket to home in on targets designated by a third party from a safe distance.

“We can now hit targets with pinpoint accuracy. All (that is) needed is someone to paint the target so that it knows exactly where to strike,” a Roketsan employee familiar with the program said on condition of anonymity.

Sakarya II can be guided to its target during the terminal stage of its flight by an UAV or another aerial asset, or an infantry element with a mobile target designator.

“It is now capable of engaging both stationary and moving targets… a world-leading technology in its class,” added the employee.

TR Defence has learned that field tests of the new version are underway and results so far have been promising. Roketsan is expected to officially unveil the new product later in the year and offer it for both TSK use and export.

Greek court rejects extradition of terror suspect

The Thessaloniki Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled Hüseyin Fevzi Tekin who was arrested last February will not be extradited to Turkey at least until his political asylum request is concluded.

Tekin, along with Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) members İsmail Akkol, Murat Korkut and Bilgehan Karpat, was arrested in Athens. When captured, he was in possession of a passport issued in the name of Bulgarian national Petrov Petar.

Greek police found a cache of weapons and explosives in his house. The court said that Tekin will remain in detention on charges related to the possession of weapons.

In a related development, Hasan Koşar, a DHKP-C member recently arrested for his involvement in a 2011 bombing in Thessaloniki, was released on bail. Koşar and 14 others, including two other DHKP-C members, were arrested after the explosion that killed one. He was released only to be arrested again as further investigation found he was involved in the attack. The Thessaloniki court ruled for his release as he has been a resident of Greece for over 23 years and “was not expected to flee abroad.”

Last week, the Thessaloniki Court of Appeals rejected an extradition demand for Kadir Kaya, another DHKP-C member, who was jailed last year but freed. The court also decided not to extradite two other DHKP-C members who were captured in a boat carrying arms and explosives from Greece’s Chios island on July 30.

Tekin is a high-ranking official in the DHKP-C who rose to the top after the death of its leader Dursun Karataş in 2008. He was arrested after a series of bombings were carried out in Istanbul’s Fatih district in 1999. After his release on parole, he disappeared. He is accused of commanding the organization from Greece.

Greece has long been a favorite hideaway for terrorists from the DHKP-C and PKK.

Terrorists fleeing Turkey took shelter at refugee camps in Lavrion under the guise of asylum seekers, especially in the 1980s.

The DHKP-C, founded in 1978 as a Marxist-Leninist party, was designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Under the name of Dev Sol until 1994, the organization claimed responsibility for a series of high-profile murders, including the assassination of nationalist politician Gün Sazak and former prime minister Nihat Erim in 1980. The group also killed several Turkish intelligence officials. In 1994, it was founded as the DHKP-C after Dev Sol splintered. The group’s terror activities remained relatively minor compared to the PKK, another terrorist organization targeting Turkey.

The DHKP-C attempted to stage a bloody comeback in the last two years by carrying out attacks against the police. In 2012, about ten years after its last known lethal attack in Turkey, the DHKP-C conducted a suicide bombing at a police station in Istanbul, killing a policeman.

It claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, which killed a Turkish security guard in February 2013. This was followed one month later by rocket attacks against the Ministry of Justice in Ankara and the headquarters of the ruling AK Party. In September 2013, the DHKP-C claimed responsibility for a rocket attack against the headquarters of Turkish police in the capital.

No casualties were reported in all three attacks. The DHKP-C, originally established as a left-wing movement opposed to “fascist regimes in Turkey controlled by the West” targeted U.S. interests, including U.S. military and diplomatic personnel and facilities and NATO personnel and facilities since the 1990s. During the Gulf War in 1991, the organization claimed responsibility for the killing of two U.S. soldiers in Turkey and targeted NATO and U.S. logistical facilities in various attacks.

Following those attacks, Turkey launched a massive crackdown against the group in 1992 and an unknown number of its senior leaders were killed in operations in Istanbul. The terrorist organization restricted its activities in late 1990s, although it made headlines after a series of hunger strikes by its imprisoned members in 1999 that concluded with a violent crackdown by Turkish security forces against the prisoners. The group changed its tactics in the subsequent years, using terminally ill people as suicide bombers.

Daily Sabah

Turkish, Greek jets back at “war” after 2 years

Turkish and Greek fighter jets engaged in a mid-air dogfight over the Aegean Sea twice on April 15 in a first since January 2012, Greek media has reported.

According to the reports based on Greek military sources, four F-16s belonging to the Turkish Air Force approached the Semadirek (Samothraki) Island before the first dogfight. Four Greek F-16s took off “to locate and prevent” the Turkish aircraft. Sides faced off against each other north of Samothraki, as well as southwest of Limni (Limnos) Island.

The official website of the Turkish General Staff did not list any violations or dogfights for April 15.

Greece unilaterally claims 10 nautical miles (19 km) of airspace, as opposed to the six miles of territorial waters, as Turkey and other NATO countries accept. Athens considers any unauthorized flight in the airspace from six to 10 miles in the Aegean a “violation.”

Dogfights between Turkish and Greek aircraft over the Aegean Sea had significantly decreased due to the economic crisis Athens is struggling with.


Greece Eyes $206 Billion From Oil & Gas Deposits

Greece can potentially bring in more than 150 billion euros ($206 billion) in state revenue over the next 30 years through untapped oil and natural gas deposits, said Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday, with the sum worth nearly half of Greece’s current debt mountain.

There are “very strong indications of significant” reserves off Greece’s western coast, Samaras told reporters, as cited by Bloomberg, adding that explorative work was already ongoing in waters off the island of Crete in the south.

The gulf of Patras, in the west, is thought to hold some 200 million barrels of crude oil, while another 50-80 million barrels are believed to lie near Ioannina and another three million barrels near Katakolo.

In 2012, the government commissioned a Norwegian contractor to carry out seismic surveys in the Ionian Sea and south of Crete in search for oil and gas. Drilling contracts for the region are to be issued later this year.

“We are completing the concession agreements for the gulf of Patras and Ioannina, where the indications are strongest, and they will be tabled for ratification by parliament,” Samaras said.”

Meanwhile, Greece resumed bailout talks with its international lenders on Monday, hoping to end six months of wrangling over the release of new rescue loans it needs to avoid default.

Athens has already obtained 218 billion of the 237 billion euros set aside under the bailout, which expires this year; and will require another disbursement of funds to repay 9.3 billion of bonds maturing in May.

Economy Watch

TN to receive new-generation maritime patrol planes

Finmeccanica company Alenia Aermacchi is to supply eight new-generation ATR 72-600 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft to the Turkish Navy under a contract amendment signed with Turkey’s Defence Industries Undersecratariat (SSM) at IDEF 2013 in Istanbul on 8 May.

The agreement – which is an amendment to a contract signed in 2005 for the supply of 10 ATR 72-500s – will see the delivery of two platforms configured as Turkish Maritime Utility Aircraft for personnel and cargo transport and six platforms configured as Turkish Maritime Patrol Aircraft (TMPAs) to fulfil Turkey’s maritime patrol requirements.

|The new -600 version of the ATR 72 replaces the now out of production ATR 72-500. Key features include a ‘glass’ cockpit and more powerful engines, which will provide better performance and long-term serviceability, according to the company.

Modification of the two ATR 72-600s is already well under way at Alenia’s plant in Naples-Capodichino, with delivery to the Turkish Navy set for June and July 2013.

Meanwhile, Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI) has started conversion work on the first of the six ATR 72-600s at its Akinci facility following its delivery in April.

Turkey launches military exercise near Syrian border

The Turkish military launched a 10-day exercise at a base near the border with Syria on Monday, where fears of a spillover of violence and of the fallout of any chemical weapons use have escalated in recent weeks.

The exercise at Incirlik, a NATO air base outside the city of Adana where U.S. troops are also stationed, will test the military’s readiness for battle and coordination with government ministries, the general staff said in a statement.

“(The exercise will) test joint operations that would be carried out between ministries, public institutions and the armed forces at a time of mobilization and war,” it said.

While the exercise in Adana province, some 100 km (60 miles) from the border, was described by NATO’s second-biggest military as “planned”, it comes at a time of heightened tension.

Turkey is sheltering nearly 400,000 refugees from Syria’s more than two-year conflict, has become one of President Bashar al-Assad’s most vocal critics, and has scrambled war planes along the border as stray gunfire and shelling hit its soil.

A Turkish border guard was killed and six others wounded last week in a clash with armed men at a border crossing along the 900 km frontier.

Turkish experts are meanwhile testing blood samples taken from Syrian casualties brought to a Turkish hospital from fighting in Syria to determine whether they were victims of a chemical weapons attack.

U.S. President Barack Obama last year said the use or deployment of chemical weapons by Assad would cross a “red line”.

Assad’s government and the rebels accuse each other of carrying out three chemical weapon attacks, one near Aleppo and another near Damascus, both in March, and another in Homs in December.

The civil war began with anti-government protests in March 2011. The conflict has now claimed an estimated 70,000 lives and forced 1.2 million Syrian refugees to flee.

Vestel’s Karayel ready for delivery

The Turkish Land Forces is due to receive the first of six Karayel tactical UAVs following a series of improvements implemented by manufacturer Vestel Defence.

The company expects to deliver the first example of what had been known as ‘Version II’ but is now the baseline version of the Karayel by mid-year, with the following five by the end of 2013.

Now 6.5m in length and featuring a 10.5m wing span, the upgraded Karayel has a maximum take-off weight of 550kg, doubling its payload and endurance, to 70kg and 20 hours respectively.

Speaking at the IDEF exhibition in Istanbul on 7 May, a company spokesman said after the earlier version had been demonstrated to the Turkish armed forces, the army determined it needed a slightly bigger, more capable aircraft and placed an order instead for six of the upgraded aircraft.

Vestel is confident that should the army determine it needs additional platforms, it has the capacity to be able to increase production to one aircraft per month.

The spokesman noted that while there was early interest from international customers, the company was ‘trying to keep everyone calm’ until the testing regime had finished and the current deliveries are made to the Turkish armed forces.

Vestel also used the exhibition to publicly unveil the smaller Bora UAV, which it is using to derisk the avionics, autopilot and datalink communications of the Karayel.

The company spokesman said many of the critical technologies were first demonstrated on the Bora before being integrated with the larger airframe.

However, the Bora will also be offered to the Turkish Armed Forces as a training aircraft for operators moving onto the Karayel as well as being marketed as a stand-alone product.

Shephard Media

Black Hawk contract signature still not in sight

Sikorsky is still yet to sign a contract with Turkey for the license-manufacture of 109 T-70i Black Hawk helicopters, more than two years after the airframe was formally selected for the Turkish Utility Helicopter Programme.

In an instructive example of the pitfalls of doing business with a country that wants to maximise its domestic work-share, negotiations between Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) and Sikorsky for a contract are only now gathering pace.

Sikorsky was originally announced as preferred bidder for the contract with a derivative of the Black Hawk helicopter at the end of April 2011.

However, a MoU setting out the broad terms and conditions of the agreement was only recently signed between the two organisations, and the final terms and conditions are now being resolved.

Speaking to Shephard at the IDEF exhibition in Istanbul, a Sikorsky spokesman said despite the protracted negotiations, the company felt that contract award was ‘close’.

As well as heavily involving Turkish industry in the manufacture of the helicopters for the Turkish military and government agencies, Sikorsky has committed to buying Turkish-produced S-70i helicopters on a ‘one-for-one’ basis for export.

‘The larger issues have been resolved and we are working on the final terms of conditions of the contract,’ the spokesman said on 7 May.

As if to reinforce his optimism, the SSM released a statement the same day stating it ‘intended to finalise the negotiations that will result in a contract award to build Black Hawk utility helicopters in Turkey’.

‘Estimated at $3.5 billion, the total programme value to Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), as the prime contractor, is inclusive of work to be performed by Sikorsky and other programme partners,’ the statement said.

Aircraft components such as blades, the cabin and the cockpit will be manufactured and aircraft will be assembled in Turkey by TAI. The avionics suite is being designed by Aselsan; the engine will be manufactured by TEI under the license of GE; while the landing gear and transmission will be manufactured by ALP Aviation, which is 50% owned by Sikorsky.

Under Sikorsky’s original industrial plan for the programme, the Aselsan avionics package, which features four 8×10 inch multi-function displays, a new man-machine interface and modern software architecture, will be the baseline suite for all S-70i aircraft following its certification.

The Aselsan cockpit is not now expected to be ready until 2017-2018, raising questions over whether the project will be delayed further awaiting its integration.

Shephard Media

Syrian rebels to receive training in Turkey

A Geneva-based NGO starts training military and legal officials in the armed Free Syrian Army (FSA) on the basics of international humanitarian law in Turkey’s southeastern provinces.

Officials from Geneva Call, which aims to convince non-state actors to respect international humanitarian and human rights law, will conduct the three-day trainings for the Free Syrian Army members first in Gaziantep and then in Hatay province.

‘Fighter, not Killer’

The workshop, titled “Fighter not Killer,” will be held between May 10 and 12 in Gaziantep. The same workshop will take place in Hatay’s Reyhanlı district May 13 to 15. A source from the Syrian National Coalition told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday that the workshop would not be military training but rather would draw attention to international humanitarian law, stating that some of the FSA fighters had not been soldiers before the uprising in the country.

The fighters will be told not to allow children become fighters even if they demand it. The workshop aims to teach the fighters that they are not killers, and how to treat captured soldiers from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

The workshop revolves around 15 rules of international humanitarian law that represent the basic standards of military conflicts.

The brochures for the training the Syrian Coalition sent to the Daily News show drawings such as a fighter using civilians as human shield, labeling it an incorrect practice. The drawings urge fighters not to risk the lives of civilians. It also shows that fighting in a vehicle disguised as humanitarian relief is an incorrect practice as it puts real relief workers at risk. One of the videos that will be shown at the workshops shows that tying the hands or feet of captured soldiers or blindfolding them in prison is an incorrect practice.

A Syrian source told the Daily News that they had already organized the first of these workshops in Hatay two months ago.


Eurocopter to offer Turkish guided missile

Eurocopter plans to test fire Roketsan’s Cirit laser guided missile from an EC635 by the end of the year, it has emerged.

The two companies are working under a MoU signed in 2011 to integrate the Cirit on the aircraft and aim to carry out a flight demonstration in September or October. It has yet to be determined whether this would take place in South Africa or Turkey.

Speaking at the IDEF exhibition, Eurocopter representatives said that following the demonstration, the Cirit would be offered as an optional addition to the EC635/645 weapons package.

Unlike similar weapons developed in the US, which are essentially guidance kits for 2.75 inch unguided rockets, Cirit has been developed to fill the gap between such weapons and larger anti-tank missiles.

Turkish Aerospace Industries is currently working to integrate the Cirit with the full ATAK-standard T-129, designated the T-129B, which will be delivered to the Turkish armed forces from 2014.

Eurocopter also used the exhibition to release details of the increased capabilities of the new EC635 T3/P3.

The upgraded variant features a revamped rotor design, rotor blades that are 10cm longer, an upgraded FADEC software suite, and lateral air inlets that are compatible with inlet barrier filter systems.

The improvements have increased the maximum take-off weight of the aircraft by 30kg to 2,980 kg.

Christian Fanchini, Eurocopter’s military operational marketing manager, explained that the increased payload becomes even more significant in hot and high conditions.

At an altitude of 2,134 m in ISA+20 conditions, the payload increase is 240kg while at altitudes above 914 m in ISA+35 conditions, the increase is 270 kg.

Eurocopter vice president of sales for Europe, Thomas Hein, explained that there was an increasing demand from armed forces around the world for lighter helicopters to be employed in the scout/light attack role.

‘Rather than the heavier transport helicopters, more and more military users are looking to introduce lighter aircraft, such as the [UH-72] Lakota with the US Army. More and more militaries are recognising the benefits of going to a lighter platform and the versatility that provides,’ Hein said.

Shephard Media