The Turkish Land Forces is on the verge of taking delivery of their first T-129 ATAK attack helicopters as the production of the aircraft gathers momentum.
Speaking at the IDEF exhibition in 2013, company representatives stated that the army is expected to take delivery of its first aircraft in the coming weeks.
Four T-129A aircraft are now ready to be formally handed over to the army and will be used to train the initial batch of pilots and maintenance staff. In addition to these first four, three production aircraft are currently undergoing factory acceptance tests.
Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the programme’s prime contractor that is assembling the aircraft, has increased production to one aircraft per month, which will be the ongoing rate through until deliveries of the 59 aircraft are completed in 2018.
Company representatives also revealed that TAI is looking at future upgrades of the aircraft, potentially including the installation of a millimetre wave radar and development of a manned-unmanned teaming capability.
Two prototypes have been manufactured and will be used to investigate the various upgrade options. In total, the programme has now done more than 2500 flight hours.
The initial deliveries will be of the T-129, which is described as a combat support aircraft and includes rockets, guns and integrated electronic warfare suite.
Development continues on the ATAK standard configuration, designated as the T-29B and includes integration of the Cirit and UMTAS missiles. The first T-129B will start qualification tests in mid-2013 – tests of the IR-guided UMTAS are scheduled to take place in July – and full production of the fully capable version is expected to start in 2014.
With the ATAK now the baseline for all future international sales of the A-129, AgustaWestland and TAI have developed a mechanism for the joint marketing of the aircraft and any specific sales drives.
While TAI took the lead for the recent campaign in South Korea, an effort that saw the T-129 lose out to the AH-64E Apache, which company takes the lead role in the future will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Meanwhile, with the Italian MoD currently carrying out preliminary studies to determine the future upgrade of its A-129 fleet, an AgustaWestland spokesman said the company’s approach would be to offer new aircraft rather than developing retrofit options to bring the fleet up to T-129B standard.
Turkey has a vibrant and increasingly capable defence industry that is determined to boost its export earnings up to $2 billion a year, a goal that the Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporters Association says is well within reach.
Broadly based and innovative, its products include aircraft, land vehicles, warships, weapon systems ranging from small arms to guided missiles, C4ISR systems, RF and EO and electronic warfare systems. Other efforts are focused on logistics and support systems and services. A large home market and government policy to build a rounded indigenous industry underpins all of them.
Evolution in the country’s defence procurement has progressed in four distinct stages. Before 1990, the policy for major platforms and weapon systems was essentially one of direct procurement. The next decade focused on coproduction of systems, such as armoured combat vehicles, light transport aircraft, the COUGAR battlefield helicopter, mobile radar systems and High Frequency Single Side Band (HF SSB) radios. The first decade of the 21st Century saw growing confidence manifest itself in local design of big-ticket items such as the ALTAY MBT, the MILGEM National Corvette, the ANKA MALE UAV, and the HURKUS training aircraft.
Under the guidance of the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM), the industry today is also engaged in several other ambitious development programmes including the NEB bunker buster bomb, the TOROS truck based rocket artillery system, the GÖKTÜRK reconnaissance and surveillance satellite, the 105mm air transportable light towed howitzer project, the GPS/INS based HGK guidance kit for 2,000lbs bombs, the KGK wing adapter kit for long range smart bombs, plus smaller yet still vital items, such as thermal batteries for munitions.
Projects under contract to the SSM for the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) has grown over the last decade or so from $5,448 billion to $25,397 billion in 2012, although it peaked at around $27 billion in 2011. The total turnover of the defence and aviation sectors has grown strongly from around $1,855 billion in 2006 to $4,381 billion in 2011.
Growing Local Content
Local content in TAF projects is also growing steadily from 25% in 2003 to 54% in 2011, which is the last year for which the SSM has released figures. Alongside this figure, possibly not coincidentally, defence and aviation exports have grown from $331 million to $1.09 billion over the same period.
Today, co-production dominates the SSM project budget, taking 53%, while development takes 27%. Direct procurements still take a substantial share at 11%, engagement with international consortia taking 8% and R&D one percent. Major co-production projects include several F-16 efforts and the T129 attack helicopter programme, in which Turkish weapons and avionics will be integrated into the AgustaWestland A129 MANGUSTA airframe.
Turkish Land Systems Innovation
Turkey’s armoured vehicle sector is particularly strong, with four companies able to design, develop, produce, test and qualify them. These companies, Otokar, FNSS, BMC, and Nurol, dominate the home military and security vehicle market.
ALTAY and MBT Upgrades
SSM’s biggest development project is the ALTAY MBT. The Turkish government describes ALTAY as a “Generation 3 Plus” MBT. The programme was launched in 2008 with Otokar as prime contractor. The conceptual design was completed and approved by the SSM in September of 2010, giving the green light to the detailed design phase. ALTAY has successfully come through its critical design review and two prototypes have been built, the first having completed its mobility trials and the second now undergoing firepower testing, with two more set to be produced during 2013 for qualification testing. The declared budget for these stages, according to the SSM, is $500 million.
Levent Senel, Head of SSM’s Land Platforms Department, said in February that the tank will be ready for serial production by 2015, but that is not anticipated to begin until 2017 or 2018. Plans call for an initial production run of 250, which may be increased.
ALTAY ticks all the boxes to be a thoroughly modern MBT in the western idiom, its four-person crew dictated by the choice of manual loading for the 120mm L55 smoothbore main gun, which occupies an electrically driven turret. This weapon is one of the vehicle’s technological imports, the know-how having been transferred from Korea’s Hyundai Rotem, although the gun that arms the ROK’s K2 has an autoloader, reducing that MBT’s crew to three. Drawing on Russian practice, however, the gun can be used as a launcher for laser guided missiles.
The new-generation fire control system, with hunter/killer functionality, plus the C3 systems are designed and built by Aselsan. Integrated with it will be a battlefield target identification system.
Supplementing the main armament will be a Remotely Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS) able to mount both 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine guns, in addition to the 7.62mm coaxial machine gun.
The first production ALTAYs will be fitted with a 1,500hp engine from MTU coupled to a transmission from Renk, but later vehicles are slated to receive a 1,800hp diesel designed and manufactured in Turkey. Automotive R&D organization OTAM, which is associated with Istanbul University, is responsible for design studies intended to lead to the first prototype ‘national tank engine’ and is working with other R&D entities and with Turkish engine manufacturers. ALTAY also has that other modern tank essential – an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU).
Better known for its rocket and missile expertise, Roketsan is responsible for ALTAY’s modular composite armour package, which it is developing in its Ballistic Protection Center, the focus of its armour systems infrastructure personnel. The company has expertise in light and heavy composite armour for vehicles, ceramic and hybrid armour, design, development and production facilities for reactive armour and ballistic testing.
A laser warning system, standard on all modern MBTs, will be one contributor to a 360° situational awareness system that will include front and rear thermal and day TV cameras for the driver, who also gets an integrated display.
Helping protect the crew in the event that the tank takes a hit, is a combined fire extinguishing and explosion suppression system, with the life support system combining air conditioning with CBRN protection.
New Wheeled AFVs
As well as new and upgraded MBTs, Otokar also develops wheeled armoured vehicles, a sector in which it competes with both FNSS and Nurol.
Otokar and FNSS go head-to-head in the large 6×6 and 8×8 sectors with their respective and directly comparable ARMA and PARS vehicles, both of which are offered in both configurations and both have combat weights (for the 6×6 versions) between 18 and 18.5 tonnes. Nurol competes with both in the 6×6 sector and has had considerable success in the export market with its EJDER.
Otokar’s ARMA is a multi-purpose wheeled armoured vehicle designed to be flexible enough to be used with a variety of mission equipment and weapon systems. The FNSS PARS 8×8 AFV was shown for the first time in February 2005 during IDEX. As well as meeting the Turkish Land Forces Command (TLFC) requirements for a wheeled APC, the PARS family of wheeled AFV is also being aimed at the export market. In 2010, FNSS has signed an LoI for Malaysia’s 8×8 Armoured Vehicles Programme for 8×8 PARS vehicles to be manufactured locally in Malaysia. The total weight of the Pars vehicle depends on the weapon fit, crew and armour package. The 8×8 model has a typical combat weight of 25 tonnes. According to FNSS, the PARS is a new family of wheeled AFVs that incorporates numerous advanced, unique features. As the vehicle has an open electronics architecture, it is claimed that inserting new technology can be achieved more easily as it becomes available. The baseline 8 × 8 Pars vehicle has a hull consisting of a composite aluminum and steel armour that provides the occupants with protection from 7.62 mm armour-piercing attack through a full 360°. Higher levels of protection are available if required, using an appliqué armour package.
Innovation and R&D
Otokar displayed some of its expanding range of vehicles at February’s IDEX event in Abu Dhabi, where the company’s General Manager Serdar Gorguc emphasised, “R&D is one of our most important assets. Today Otokar is in leading position in designing and producing armoured combat vehicles and in due course making significant investments on the R&D studies. Reinvesting 5% of our turnover on R&D activities is the actual assurance of Otokar commitments in developing new vehicles.“
FNSS’ PARS 6×6 has a mid-mounted 482hp diesel engine driving three axles through an automatic transmission. The first and third axles are steerable. Suspension is independent all round and can use either hydraulic or air shock absorbers.
All PARS variants feature a removable roof to facilitate different equipment fits for role changes. Other features include a hydraulic rear ramp, water jets to clean the wheels and tires of possible CBRN contamination, central tire inflation, an IR suppressing exhaust cooling system, panoramic glass periscopes, a hydraulic trim vane for amphibious operations and a self-recovery winch and an APU.
Turkey’s third 6×6 armoured vehicle is Nurol’s EJDER, which is not operated by Turkey but has entered service in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Libya, Turkmenistan, and Zimbabwe.
Nurol emphasizes EJDER’s IED protection, saying that the vehicle protects its 12 occupants to NATO standards using real mines, crash test dummies and special test equipment. The vehicle can also accept modular add-on armour packages. Nurol also stresses internal ergonomics and space that enable soldiers to carry all the weapons and ammunition they need. All-wheel drive, independent suspension and a high power-to-weight ratio contribute to what the company claims is ‘superior’ off road performance, supplemented by the ability to enter water without needing preparation. EJDER can also be carried in a C-130, says Nurol.
Engineering vehicles FNSS also offers upgrades of the venerable M113 tracked armoured vehicle and is undertaking such a project for Saudi Arabia, as well as heavier specialist systems such as its Armoured Amphibious Assault Bridge (AAAB) and the Armoured Amphibious Combat Earth mover (AACE), a two-crew vehicle based on theM9 ACE.
The AAAB is a major SSM procurement project for 52 vehicles, half of which have been delivered with the other half set to be delivered this year. Offering ballistic protection (including transparent armour) and NBC protection for the crew compartment, each vehicle carries four ramps, removing the need for an additional ramp carrier vehicle.
In ferry mode, AAAB can be configured with two bays, enabling it to carry tracked vehicles with a NATO Military Load Capacity (MLC) rating of 70. It can also be configured with three bays, which allows it to carry wheeled vehicles with an MLC of up to 100. Two AAAB vehicles together can ferry an MBT. By linking 12 vehicles together, the system can create a 153.7 m bridge.
An 8×8 with all-wheel steering, it is also fitted with a crane and an emergency anchoring system and a self-recovery winch.
Otokar’s KAYA is a 10-seat V-hulled 4×4 based on a Mercedes UNIMOG chassis and offers a large internal volume to maximize mission flexibility. KAYA combines high levels of protection from mines and ballistic threats with high mobility and manoeuvrability over rough terrain and in extreme climates, aided by a CTIS and air conditioning. Otokar offers KAYA in APC, C2, reconnaissance, CBRN recce, medevac and maintenance support variants. KAYA is also available as a mine protected cargo carrier based on the UNIMOG 5000 chassis, which can carry 4.5t for a gross vehicle weight of 12.5 tonnes. Its Mercedes OM 924 LA diesel engine produces 218hp at 2,200rpm and 810nm of torque between 1,200 and 1,600rpm and drives through a Tiptronic electro-pneumatic gearbox to locking differentials on both axles, giving the MRAP a top speed that’s limited to 100kph.
Offered for the same set of missions as the KAYA, the larger KALE MRAP will seat up to 13 people and is powered by a 300hp diesel engine with automatic transmission. The suspension is independent and uses helical spring/shock absorber units.
Otokar’s MRAP designs draw on experience gained in the development and fielding of the COBRA multi-purpose light armoured vehicle, which has proved its worth in several conflict zones and is in service with around 20 users in more than 10 countries, according to SSM.
The other Turkish vehicle maker to enter the MRAP arena is BMC, a major supplier of tactical trucks, logistic support and special purpose vehicles to the Turkish Land Forces. The KIPRI is a 16t selectable 4×4 with seating for up to 13 people including the driver, commander, gunner and 10 fully armed soldiers. KIPRI’s 350hp Cummins diesel generates 1,550nm of torque at 1,400rpm through an automatic transmission and a transfer case that enables the driver to choose either two-wheel drive or four wheel drive and either high or low ranges. The axles incorporate planetary reduction gears and feature differential locks front and rear and are suspended on leaf springs and telescopic shocks. At combat weight, KIPRI will climb a 60% gradient and cope with a 30% side slope and offers a range of 800 km. The standard tactical specification includes a cold-start kit, blackout and camouflage lighting, rail transportability and a NATO standard towing hook, along with electrical and pneumatic connections for towing and being towed. Air conditioning with heating and cooling capability and a windscreen defroster are also standard. KIPRI also features a 360° rotating roof hatch that can support a machine gun mount. There is also a long list of options for KIPRI, which includes a self-recovery winch, ABS braking, a CTIS, run-flat tyres, GPS, a rear view camera, automatic fire suppression and a powered turret drive.
Guided weapons development is another key area for Turkey and one of its most ambitious projects is the air launched Stand Off Missile (SOM) under development by the Defence Industries Research and Development Institute (SAGE), itself part of TÜBITAK, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey.
SOM is a 600kg cruise missile with a low-observable airframe and a 230kg warhead conceived for use against heavily defended targets on land and at sea. A typical target set might include SAM sites, parked aircraft, command centres, aircraft hangars and shelters. With a stated range of more than 100nm, it outranges SAM systems and its guidance system incorporates GPS and inertial sensors with radar, terrain referenced navigation, and an imaging IR seeker plus automatic target recognition capability and selectable impact modes. The weapon has been integrated onto the F-16 and future plans call for JSF integration and compatibility with the NATO Universal Armaments Interface (UAI).
TÜBITAK SAGE is working with government owned MKEK and foreign partners on a deep penetration bomb known as NEB, an 870kg weapon with the same general external geometry as a Mk 84 general purpose bomb but containing a shaped-charge precursor warhead that makes a hole in a hardened target through which the main warhead passes before detonating about a second later. Compatible with GBU-10E/B systems, it can use laser guidance kits for these weapons, as well as SAGE’s own new HGK precision guidance kit, which uses GPS, probably combined with an inertial sensor, to provide a claimed accuracy of 6.3 metres. Plans called for NEB design studies to be complete by the first quarter of 2012.
While NEB is a specialised weapon for hardened and buried targets, the KGK is a winged guidance kit designed to transform 500lbs Mk 82 and 1,000lbs Mk 83 general purpose bombs into smart glide bombs. SAGE claims an accuracy of 10m from the GPS/INS guidance system and maximum ranges between 20nm when dropped from 10,000ft and 60nm from 30,000 feet. The impact angle can be set between 10° and 80° to maximize the weapon’s effect on the target. The maximum allowable flight speed is 600 knots.
Turkish National Sonar
In the naval sector, the first two MILGEM national corvettes have been built by the Navy itself and the Turkish government is now reported to be in negotiation with RMK Marine for the construction of the next six vessels, having apparently beaten the rival Dearsan shipyard to the $2.5 billion deal, according to a report on 05 January in the Turkish media.
The 2,300t corvettes have mission systems focused on ASW, and TÜBITAK has developed three key sonar system ‘wet end’ components. The TBT-01 transducer operates as an active/passive sensor over the 6-9kHz frequency range and as a passive sensor between 2-10kHz. The second major acoustic sensor is a ship-integrated sonar with a 288 element cylindrical array. The third system is national transducer cable.
TÜBITAK also built the infrastructure required to develop the technology in the form of the Marmara Research Centre Materials Institute’s Underwater Acoustic Laboratory. Opened officially on 14 March 2008, the UAL received accreditation from Germany’s DAP agency in April 2009. The UAL features a 15x10x7.5m test tank with a very accurate positioning system that can support sensors and arrays weighing up to 3,000kg.
Satellites and MALE UAVs
On 18 December GÖKTÜRK 2, a Turkish designed imaging reconnaissance satellite went into orbit successfully from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in China. The TÜBITAK-funded spacecraft’s declared purpose it both military reconnaissance and civil environmental monitoring.
From its Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of around 700km, the 409kg GÖKTÜRK 2 circles the Earth every 98 minutes approximately and can collect imagery from anywhere in the world, revisiting any site on average once every 2.5 days, according to Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), who designed, integrated and tested the satellite at its own facilities, carrying out bus assembly and integration, payload integration, mass property measurement, system level functional and thermal vacuum testing. The spacecraft’s sensors offer resolutions of 2.5m panchromatic and 5.0m multispectral. GÖKTÜRK 2’s planned operational life is five years.
Launch of the higher resolution GÖKTÜRK 1 spacecraft was scheduled for this year, but is reportedly subject to a delay of around a year as a result of a dispute with Israel, source of some sensor components.
GÖKTÜRK 1 is in development by prime contractor Telespazio following a 2009 contract between SSM and the Italian company. TAI is directly involved in work packages in Italy and France and is manufacturing some components in house.
On 25 January, the TAI-developed ANKA MALE UAS successfully completed its acceptance test campaign. This followed the final flights in the programme that took place between 20 and 22 January.
With a wingspan of 17.3m and a length of 8m, ANKA is powered by a 155hp heavy fuel engine to a service ceiling of 30,000ft with endurance of up to 24 hours. ANKA is intended for day and night, all-weather ISR missions carrying EO/IR cameras with laser designation and range finding capabilities plus SAR/ISAR/GMTI sensors. Growth potential includes SATCOM, SIGINT and communications relay payloads and the ability to send imagery and data to remote video terminals. Of the final two test flights, the first lasted more than 18 hours. TAI says that this flight successfully demonstrated the aircraft’s full endurance and the data link’s 200km range in wind speeds that reached 45 knots. The second and final flight test on 22 January demonstrated the night capability of its automatic take-off and landing system.
The acceptance campaign began in the last quarter of 2012 and encompassed about 130 different ground and flight tests, witnessed by SSM and Turkish Air Force representatives. ANKA first flew in December 2010 since when it has accumulated more than 140 flight hours.
TAI reports that contract negotiations are already underway with SSM for the production of an initial ten ANKA systems for the Air Force.
TAI also rolled out its HURKUS turboprop primary and basic training aircraft in June. The company is also working on the conceptual design of an advanced jet trainer and light fighter under a contract signed with SSM in August of 2011, while TAI’s helicopter group submitted its proposal to SSM for the ‘Indigenous Helicopter’, having been appointed prime contractor for the programme in 2010.
Without doubt, Turkey intends to be a major force in the defence industry and is making the investments needed to make desire into reality.
Hardly a day passes without a Turkish defense company proudly announcing that it has designed, developed and produced a weapon system the country would normally buy off-the-shelf from a foreign supplier. The most recent indigenously developed Turkish weapon is an anti-tank missile, the UMTAS.
Turkish military officials are anxiously awaiting the first serial production and delivery of the UMTAS.
“After years of going from one foreign supplier to another, we are happy to have our companies providing us with national solutions,” a senior Army official said.
Procurement officials said the UMTAS has recently undergone several successful field tests.
“This system can quickly find foreign buyers and mark an impressive transformation [of Turkey] from an import-dependent country into an exporting one,” one procurement official said. “It is relatively low-cost and reliable.”
State-owned missile maker Roketsan initiated the long-range anti-tank UMTAS missile project in efforts, first, to meet local demand from the Turkish Armed Forces, and later to export it, especially to countries in the region.
The UMTAS, with its infrared imaging and laser-seeker options, is an anti-tank missile with a range of 8 kilometers to be used in air-to-ground and ground-to-ground operations.
Roketsan officials said the system is going through further tests for technical properties and compatibility with environmental conditions. Thus far, the system has completed ballistic-missile tests and controlled-missile tests, and its sub-system design has been finished, they said.
The UMTAS is considered the official anti-tank system for the T-129, the helicopter gunship Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is co-producing with Italian-British AgustaWestland in a US $3.2 billion project. It also can be integrated into the Anka, Turkey’s first locally developed unmanned aircraft. Other potential platforms to be outfitted with the UMTAS are armored land vehicles and naval vessels.
Israel inaugurated its fifth nuclear-capable Dolphin-class submarine April 29 in Kiel, Germany, home of the shipbuilding division of Thyssen-Krupp Marine Systems (TKMS).
The INS Rahav, the fifth of six Israeli submarines built at the German shipyard with funding assistance from Berlin, is expected to arrive here sometime next year following weapon system integration and sea trials.
It follows the May 2012 inauguration of Israel’s fourth Dolphin-class submarine, the INS Tanin, which is scheduled for operational deployment in the coming months.
Like its predecessor and the sixth submarine now undergoing hull construction at the TKMS shipyard, INS Rahav features an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system that allows for extended mission range and endurance.
By mid-2017, the Israel Navy should have full operational command of its strategic undersea fleet.
The Israel Navy’s Dolphin-class submarines are the product of two decades of strategic cooperative program between Israel and Germany. Constructed in Germany according to Israeli design specifications, the submarines host Israeli-developed command, control and combat systems including, according to foreign reports, land-attack and cruise missiles capable of carrying tactical nuclear warheads.
German fully funded construction costs for Israel’s first two Dolphins, shared half the cost of Israel’s third submarine, and has underwritten about a third of the costs for the fourth and fifth vessels now undergoing sea trials. Under a government-to-government contract signed last year for Israel’s sixth and final Dolphin-class sub, Berlin agreed to underwrite some €135 million (US $175.8 million) on an acquisition that sources here say will exceed €600 million.
The April 29 inauguration ceremony was attended by Udi Shani, director-general of the Israeli MoD; Vice Adm. Ram Rothberg, Israeli Navy commander; and German counterparts.
Greece has a long history of left-wing radicalism inclined toward violence. The 1970s saw the rise of radical group 17 November, and more recent years marked the rise of such groups as the Revolutionary Struggle and the Conspiracy of Fire Cells.
Given this history and the manner in which the current crises are producing disaffected, radicalized and unemployed people, we thought it would be worth examining radical far-left groups in Greece and the types of violence they can be expected to conduct. It is also important to remember that Greece is not the only country in which the population, particularly the left, is radicalizing. Italy, too, has seen increased leftist radicalism. What is happening in these two countries could herald things to come elsewhere in Europe.
A History of Radicalism
The revolutionary left in Greece dates back to the anarchists of the 1800s and the emergence of communism in Europe. Influenced by the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, communist partisans were some of the most effective anti-Nazi forces during the Axis powers’ brutal occupation of Greece (Italy and Bulgaria joined Germany in the occupation). After the Allied invasion of Greece and its liberation from Axis control, a civil war erupted that pitted communist partisans against anti-communist forces, which were backed by the British and the Americans. Because many former Nazi collaborators aided the anti-communists in the Greek Civil War, many anti-communist elements remained in Greece’s security forces. The war also left the remnants of an embittered communist movement upset by the fact that Nazi collaborators such as Georgios Papadopoulos, who would become the future leader of a military junta that seized power in 1967, were never brought to justice.
Like much of Europe, Greece then became a Cold War battleground. The strength of the communist forces in Greece and in its neighbor, Turkey, was the driving force behind the 1947 Truman Doctrine in which U.S. President Harry S. Truman pledged military and economic support to Greece and Turkey to prevent them from falling into the Soviet sphere of influence. This resulted in strong anti-U.S. and anti-NATO sentiment among the Greek left, which would later act on that sentiment through terrorist activity.
But the United States and its allies were not the only ones attempting to influence Greece. The Soviet Union saw the Greek communists, like communist groups elsewhere in the West, as a useful tool. The Soviets actively supported communist activists in the Greek labor and student movements. Anti-regime radicalism in the Greek student movement came to a head in 1973, when student protests against the military junta were put down by force. In a particularly iconic incident, an army tank crashed through the gates of Athens Polytechnic on Nov. 17, 1973, as soldiers seized control of the university from student protesters.
The gravity of the Athens Polytechnic uprising was clearly felt when a then-unknown group, Revolutionary Organization 17 November, assassinated Richard Welch, the CIA station chief in Athens, in December 1975. From then until 2000, 17 November conducted several assassinations and attacked NATO, Greek government and Greek industrialist targets. Although the group came to be known for close-quarter assassinations using .45-caliber pistols, they also conducted a number of successful bombing attacks, such as the June 1988 assassination of U.S. Defense Attache Capt. William Nordeen. In 1989, the group stole anti-tank rockets from a military base in Larissa. The rockets were later used in attacks against buildings and armored limousines.
The 17 November operatives practiced good terrorist tradecraft and excellent operational security. This allowed them to operate far longer than their contemporary radical leftist groups in Germany and Italy. While the founders of the German Red Army Faction and the Italian Red Brigades were arrested in the 1970s, the founders of 17 November were not taken into custody until 2002, when a botched bombing on a ferry company resulted in the arrest of the bomber. Authorities used the evidence the culprit provided to arrest most of the remaining members of 17 November, whose long reign of terror finally came to an end.
But Greece was not quiet for long. Inspired by the highly publicized arrest and trial of the 17 November members, a new group arose from the radical Greek left in 2003. This group was called Revolutionary Struggle. The group shared 17 November’s anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist and anti-U.S. focus, but it was more anarchistic than the Marxist 17 November.
From 2003 to 2010, Revolutionary Struggle bombed several Greek law enforcement buildings, banks and international corporations. The group was also responsible for a number of firearm attacks against police and a rocket attack against the U.S. Embassy. In the latter attack, the group notably used an RPG-7, not the M28 super bazooka rockets associated with 17 November. The rocket-propelled grenade launcher was recovered in April 2010, when six members of Revolutionary Struggle were arrested. Two members of the group, founder Nikos Maziotis and his wife, Panagiota Roupa, fled after being released from custody during their trial in July 2012. They are still at large.
In 2008, another Greek anarchist group calling itself the Conspiracy of Fire Cells announced its presence with a series of low-level bombing attacks against car dealerships and banks in Athens and Thessaloniki. Until late 2010, the group’s attacks were meant to damage property and send messages rather than kill people — a big departure from the homicidal intentions of 17 November. In the January 2010 bombing of the Greek Parliament, the group made a warning call to a newspaper that permitted the area to be evacuated, thus avoiding casualties.
This operational paradigm changed dramatically in 2010, when the group began to send letter bombs. After a number of letter bombs were sent to the Greek Ministry of Justice, foreign embassies in Athens and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Greek police arrested two suspects. At the time of the arrests, the suspects were found to be in possession of letter bombs addressed to then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office in Paris and to the Belgian and Dutch embassies in Athens. In total, 13 people were arrested and charged for their involvement in the Conspiracy of Fire Cells letter bomb campaign.
In the weeks before their trial in January 2011, anarchists in Italy mailed letter bombs packed with shrapnel to several embassies in Rome. On Dec. 28, 2010, anarchists attacked the Greek Embassy in Buenos Aires, which was followed by a bombing attack on the Athens courthouse in which the Conspiracy of Fire Cells members were to be tried. The courthouse bombing involved a substantial device that damaged the building and several nearby vehicles, but because of a warning call placed to authorities 40 minutes before the device detonated, it inflicted no casualties.
A group calling itself the Lambros Fountas cell of the Informal Anarchist Federation claimed responsibility for the Rome parcel bombs. (Lambros Fountas was a member of Revolutionary Struggle who was killed in April 2010 and whose death led to the roundup of the group’s members.) The moniker shows the close relationship between Greek and Italian anarchists. Attacks in Italy, such as the May 2012 shooting of a nuclear engineer in Genoa, and two attempts to sabotage rail signaling cables in Bristol, the United Kingdom, have been claimed by people operating under the name of the Informal Anarchist Federation.
In one of the most brazen attacks in recent years, three armed men appeared at Microsoft’s Athens office in the early hours of June 27, 2012, and, after forcing out the security guards, they backed a van up to the doors of the building and ignited a large incendiary device, which damaged the building.
More recently, anarchists in Greece have conducted small-scale arson and bombing attacks against bank branches, political parties and the homes of journalists. On March 11, 2013, they conducted a low-level bombing attack against a courier company in Athens.
Progressing Toward Lethality
From this history, we can identify some trends for future radical activity. First, it’s clear that the Marxist terrorism that wracked Europe in the 1970s and 1980s is not about to return, no matter how many people are radicalized by the current crises. The geopolitical environment that spawned and nurtured Marxist terrorism has changed dramatically. The state-sponsored training and support that many European Marxist groups received from the Soviet Union and Eastern European states, such as East Germany, simply will not reappear. In addition, the Marxist training camps European militants were able to visit in such places as Yemen, Libya and Iraq no longer exist.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, most left-wing radicals, save for some in Latin America, have become disillusioned with Marxism. This has helped foster the growth of anarchism, which is seen by many radicals as a system that is less prone to corruption and is therefore a more viable alternative to the capitalist imperialist system.
Something that has remained consistent among those in the radical left is the sense of international solidarity. It was this solidarity that drew Japanese Red Army operatives to conduct attacks in the name of their Palestinian comrades and inspired the Provisional Irish Republican Army to train other Marxist revolutionaries in bombmaking tradecraft in training camps in southern Yemen. Likewise, present-day Italian and Argentine anarchists claim attacks for their imprisoned Greek comrades.
While Greek and other European anarchists have shared the Marxists’ anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist beliefs, they have yet to kill people to the extent the Marxists did in their attacks. Bombing an ATM or setting a building on fire is a far cry from kidnapping or assassinating a banker or industrialist. Sending a letter bomb to an embassy is also quite different from the Nordeen and Welch assassinations.
Nevertheless, the shift from attacks meant to cause property destruction to attacks meant to maim people — sending letter bombs or kneecapping a nuclear engineer, for example — is quite disturbing. If the trend continues, it will not be a far jump to conduct attacks meant to cause fatalities. The Revolutionary Struggle already made this jump in their attacks against Greek police targets, and other anarchists could follow suit. The fact that Italian anarchists have included shrapnel in their letter bombs is another disturbing indicator that they may be making a similar progression toward lethality.
The January 11, 2013, firebombing attacks against the homes of five journalists in Greece is also unsettling in that it brought violence to the homes, rather than the business offices, of the targets. Fire can be a very deadly weapon, and if the firebombing attacks against homes continue, it is only a matter of time before someone dies.
Although today’s anarchists lack the state sponsorship the Cold War-era European Marxist groups enjoyed in terms of funding and obtaining weapons, the proximity of places like Greece and Italy to the black arms markets in the Balkans and the Middle East means that they will be able to readily obtain arms. The rocket-propelled grenade launcher and the Serbian Zastava pistols found in the possession of Revolutionary Struggle militants at the time of their arrests is a great example of the availability of arms in the region.
Whereas Molotov cocktails, camping gas canister bombs and letter bombs are fairly cheap, guns and rocket launchers cost real money on the black market. Therefore, it will be important to see if Greek anarchists begin moneymaking operations, such as bank robberies and high-value kidnappings for ransom. Since anarchists tend to be more plugged in to technology, indications of cybercrime should also be looked for.
Because the anarchist movement is so interconnected, shifts in violence in places like Greece and Italy can quickly translate into continentwide, even global, trends.
Turkey’s navy and national intelligence organization MIT have agreed to jointly procure a high-tech ship for collecting electronic intelligence from newly arising regional threats in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries, or SSM, has been tasked for launching a local tender for the construction of the new ship using Turkey’s indigenous capabilities to their fullest extent.
“Turkey has earmarked $120 million for the construction effort of Turkey’s first large scale intelligence ship.” a TR Defence source familiar with the programs of the Turkish Navy reported on Friday. “This will be a dedicated SIGINT/ELINT ship that will bear a number of advanced electronic capabilities, but will lack heavy weapons.”
Several countries currently use similar electronic intelligence ships for spying on the military transmissions of target states, finding and exploiting secret radar installations, eavesdropping on and decrypting sensitive information as well as actively jamming compromised enemy communications during war time. The ship is said to be used in conjunction with Turkey’s new Gokturk series of surveillance satellites planned for launch in 2013 and 2014.
Project will be managed by SSM and follow the successful footsteps of the Milgem program. Once complete in 2015, the ship will join Turkish Navy inventory but will be partially operated by MIT in line with Turkey’s widely varying intelligence gathering needs.
It is also expected to actively participate in NATO missions and exercises around the world.
DefenceIQ’s Military Radar conference (27 – 29, November, London), now in its 10th year, is set to gather international military radar specialists and key players across industry, procurement and development including the Royal Air Force, French Navy, Royal Netherlands Navy, DSTL, DRDC, Selex Galileo, Aselsan and Raytheon.
Military Radar will provide insight from the military radar user and operator perspective on the latest radar systems across land, air and sea domains. There will be updates on the latest developments in radar where delegates will gain a complete picture from T/R modules and low cost multi-sensors to GMTI computational linguistic methods.
“Military Radar provides an excellent forum to interface with worldwide operational users and radar professionals to gain better understanding of radar capability needs and emerging radar trends to meet these needs”said Arnie Victor, Director, Strategy and Business Development, Raytheon.
Presentations at Military Radar include:
Netherlands SMART-L Upgrade: Thales Long-Range Air Defence Radar: led by Lieutenant Commander Ton de Kleijn, Head of Section Sensor Technology, DMO Netherlands
Airborne Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar Technology: led by Dr Stephen Moore, Radar Team Leader, Joint Systems Department, DSTL
ASELSAN Family of Air Defense Radars and Technology Building Blocks: led by, Dr Alpay Erdoğan, Manager, Air Defense Radars Programs, Aselsan
Speakers will outline the changing requirements and technological progress in semi-conductor materials (GaN, GaAs, Si1−xGex, InP) to advances in data processing. Millimeter Wave Radar and Military Applications: Diversity Means Superiority will be the core focus for two practical workshops at the event.
Ahead of the Military Radar gathering, DefenceIQ conducted an interview with Lieutenant Commander Mark Ruston, Requirements Manager at the UK Royal Navy on how the UK Royal Navy is rehauling radar for the modern era. In this interview Lt. Cdr. Ruston discusses major developments within the radar field where British Forces are concerned, including 4G remediation and upgrades for the 997 radar on the Type-23 frigate “HMS Iron Duke”.
The 10thAnnual Military Radar is sponsored by: Aselsan and Astra Microwave Products Limited.
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.
Britain is to order a fourth F-35B short-takeoff and vertical-landing (STOVL) fighter next year from builder Lockheed Martin. The aircraft will be the first production-standard F-35 destined for the training fleet, rather than the test and evaluation role being undertaken by the first three aircraft ordered by the British.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond made the order announcement during the handover of the first of the aircraft at a ceremony at the U.S. contractor’s Fort Worth plant in Texas on July 19. The initial three aircraft were purchased at a cost of nearly 300 million pounds ($469.2 million) for test and evaluation, but the fourth will be used to give front-line pilots their first taste of training on the F-35.
The second evaluation aircraft will be delivered next month and the third is scheduled for handover in early 2013. The latest order will see the fourth aircraft delivered in the 2015-2016 time frame.
The British, the only full-scale international partner in the development of the Joint Strike Fighter, become the first country outside the United States to take delivery of an aircraft.
The fighter will be jointly operated by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.
Hammond recently said that although no final decision had been made, the RAF jets were likely to be based at Marham, Norfolk, starting in 2018. Flight trials from the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth-class carrier will commence at about the same time.
The handover and new order follows a period of near farce when the British government managed two U-turns in quick succession on the variant of the F-35 it intended to operate.
An initial, long-standing decision to go for the B STOVL variant was overturned in favor of the C conventional carrier version, only for the Conservative-led coalition government to change its mind again a few months later when it became apparent that the cost of modifying the aircraft carriers now being built would be prohibitive.
The British have declined to give any information on aircraft order numbers ahead of the next strategic defense and security review, scheduled for 2015.
Turkey’s Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry has disclosed a new five-year strategic plan, which finalizes completion dates for key projects including Turkish-made tanks, aircraft, satellites, destroyers, and helicopters, in a bid to lift the country’s defense industry into a higher league.
Altay, the Turkish-made tank project, will be complete by the end of 2015, the plan says. The first Turkish destroyer will be delivered in 2016. Atak, an attack helicopter, and Anka, an unmanned aerial vehicle, will be delivered in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
More than 280 projects have been carried out since 2011, according to the new 2012-2016 strategic plan. The total value of the contracts the undersecretariat signed last year was about $27.3 billion.
Top 10 Within Five Years
The plan envisages Turkey’s defense industry entering the top 10 worldwide within five years. The total turnover target for defense and aerospace industry exports for 2016 is $2 billion, out of an overall industry turnover of $8 billion, according to the plan.
Turkey will establish liaison offices in the Middle East, the Far East, the U.S., the Caucasus-Central Asia, and in Europe (EU-NATO). The undersecretariat will encourage collaboration between prime contractors, sub-industries, and small and medium enterprises, with universities and research institutions improving the technological base.
The Turkish government will support the establishment of testing and certification centers that meet international standards, in order to meet non-military and non-public sector demands. A land vehicle test center, a high-speed wind tunnel, an aerial vehicle flight test field, a missile systems test field, a satellite assembly center, and an integration and testing center will be among these facilities, according to the strategic plan.
Arms Projects Timetable
The strategic defense plan has laid out dates for the deadlines to manufacture the first domestically produced prototypes in the local defense industry.
A radar observation satellite will be ready by 2016.
The third-generation of the main battle tank, Altay, will be manufactured by the end of 2015.
The first destroyer will be delivered to the Turkish Navy by the end of 2016. Studies regarding development of a submarine will be completed by 2015.
Atak, a national attack helicopter, will be delivered by 2013. An all-purpose helicopter will be delivered by the end of 2016.
The mass production of a national infantry rifle starts in July.
Hürkuş, a training aircraft designed by TUSAŞ, and Anka, an unmanned aerial vehicle, will be delivered to the Turkish Air Force by the end of 2015 and 2014 respectively. And a jet motor prototype will be ready by 2016.
Long-range and medium-range anti-tank rocket systems will be in the inventory of the Turkish army by the end of 2012 and 2013 respectively.
Semi Active Laser Guided Missile, CIRIT, will be mass produced and integrated to ATAKs by the end of 2013.
Low and medium altitude air defense systems will be designed by the end of 2016.