A pair of Turkish Air Force F-16s intercepted and shot down one of two Syrian Mig-23 type fighter aircraft after the aircraft violated Turkish Airspace, TR Defence sources confirmed on Sunday.
“Our F-16s went up in the air and shot that plane down. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, then from now on, our slap will be hard,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told supporters at a campaign rally in Istanbul.
Syria’s state-controlled news agency SANA reported that the pilot successfully ejected and was quickly rescued.
The two Syrian Mig 23s flying north were spotted by Turkish radar and warned four times before entering Turkish airspace. One of them turned around but the other continued into Turkish airspace. One of the Turkish F-16s engaged the Syrian Mig just inside the Turkish border with an AMRAAM radar-guided missile. The Syrian aircraft was hit and finally crashed about 1000 yards south of the Turkish-Syrian border.
Erdogan on Sunday congratulated the military for downing a Syrian warplane near its border and warned of a “heavy” response if its airspace was violated.
“I congratulate the chief of general staff, the armed forces and those honourable pilots… I congratulate our air forces,” said the premier.
Turkey toughened its rules of engagement toward Syria after Syria’s shooting down an unarmed Turkish F-4 Phantom over the Mediterranean Sea. Turkish Air Force shut down a Syrian military transport helicopter last year, also for violating Turkish airspace.
The Turkish government and the country’s largest defense company are under increasing pressure from Turkey’s NATO allies to rethink a September decision to award a $3.44 billion air defense contract to a Chinese bidder.
Procurement officials have privately admitted that if Turkey finalizes the deal with the Chinese manufacturer, its entire defense cooperation effort with Western counterparts, including defense and non-defense companies, could be jeopardized.
“I think there is growing concern in Ankara over that deal,” one official familiar with the program said. “These concerns will definitely play a role in final decision-making, although they alone cannot be a reason to change course.”
Specifically, officials with Turkish company Aselsan are concerned that its connection to the deal could harm its corporate relations with Western banks.
In September, Turkey selected China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. (CPMIEC) to construct the country’s first long-range air and anti-missile defense system. The Turkish government said it opted for the Chinese solution based mainly on deliberations over price and technology transfer.
The Chinese contender defeated a US partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, offering the Patriot air defense system; Russia’s Rosoboronexport, marketing the S-300; and Italian-French consortium Eurosam, maker of the Aster 30.
Turkish officials said if contract negotiations with CPMIEC fail, talks would be opened with the second-place finisher, Eurosam. Next in line would be the US bidder. The Russian option has been eliminated.
But NATO and US officials have said any Chinese-built system could not be integrated with Turkey’s joint air defense assets with NATO and the United States.
They also have warned that any Turkish company that may act as local subcontractor in the program would face serious US sanctions because CPMIEC is on a US list of companies to be sanctioned under the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
US diplomats have said Turkish companies working on US products or technology could be subject to intense scrutiny, or requested to adopt stringent security measures to erect a wall between US technology-related activities and CPMIEC.
They said the sanctions would be imposed on any company or individual cooperating with the blacklisted companies, especially when the use of US technology is in question.
In December, Aselsan, potentially CPMIEC’s main Turkish partner in the contract, became the first casualty of the US sanctions. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, a US investment bank, pulled out of a joint bid to advise Aselsan on its second listing on Istanbul’s stock exchange, citing Turkey’s contract negotiations with CPMIEC.
Aselsan’s management shrugged it off and said it would select another bank for the task.
But the procurement official said that Aselsan’s concern over corporate repercussions has increased.
“I think they now view the deal potentially punishing for the company,” he said.
One Aselsan official admitted that after Merrill Lynch’s pullout, the company has been in talks for the underwriting with two more international banks, Barclays and Goldman Sachs. Both have echoed the same concerns, pointing to possible US sanctions.
“The press reports over difficulties with these two banks are correct,” one Aselsan official confirmed on condition of anonymity. “Other investment banks do not look promising. We may wait for a better timing for the listing.”
The difficulties over a Chinese air and anti-missile defense architecture for NATO member Turkey also were discussed during French President François Hollande’s recent visit here.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who accompanied Hollande during the Jan. 27 visit, met with Murad Bayar, Turkey’s top defense procurement official.
“Inevitably, the program was discussed at the top level, with the French raising concerns and urging the Turkish government to rethink the deal,” one senior government official said.
Similarly, the same official said, the Americans are voicing their concerns on an almost daily basis through various channels.
He said he could not comment on how the diplomatic offensive is influencing the government’s decision.
The Turkish government has extended an end-of-January deadline for the US and European competitors to rebid for the contract.
The Turkish program consists of radar, launcher and interceptor missiles to counter enemy aircraft and missiles. Turkey has no long-range air defense system.
About half of Turkey’s network-based air defense picture has been paid for by NATO. The country is part of NATO’s Air Defense Ground Environment.
Without NATO’s consent, it will be impossible for Turkey to make the planned Chinese system operable with these assets, some analysts said.
Sweden — three years after selling its national submarine-maker Kockums to Germany’s ThyssenKrupp — is now fighting to wrest control of its indigenous sub-building capability from the German giant.
The clearest sign of deteriorating relations between Sweden and ThyssenKrupp emerged on Feb. 27, when Sweden’s defense procurement agency FMV announced that it had allocated $3.84 million to investigate Saab’s ability to design and produce Sweden’s next generation submarine.
The move drove speculation that Sweden might support a bid by Saab to take over Kockums, now called ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), which would put ownership back in Sweden.
Swedish Defense Ministry officials expressed disappointment and concern over the lack of guarantees provided by ThyssenKrupp covering commitments to maintain TKMS as a large-vessel producer. More specifically, Swedish officials claim that ThyssenKrupp has still not provided a fixed price for the delivery of two new A26 generation subs and mid-life upgrades to the Navy’s Gotland-class submarines.
The emergence of Saab as a potential builder of the A26 submarine has cast doubt over TKMS’ role in the Navy’s submarine modernization project. TKMS secured the contract to design the A26 in 2010, and provisional costs were included in Sweden’s defense budget for that year.
Management and unions at TKMS’ Malmo-based shipyard warn that the prevailing uncertainty could result in the closure of the country’s only submarine construction facility should the company fail to obtain the A26 and Gotland-class construction and modernization contracts.
Fears relating to the possible loss of contracts has extended to the Malmo shipyard’s 1,000 unionized workers, who are also facing a reorganization of operations, with ThyssenKrupp reported to be planning to designate Malmo as its industrial hub for small-sized subs and surface vessels up to 1,000 tons, a prospect that has also further hurt relations with Swedish authorities given that the A26 and Gotland-class subs have a displacement of around 1,900 tons.
The lack of a fixed price from ThyssenKrupp regarding the A26 and the Gotland-class submarine programs means that to proceed to the build stage would be neither practical, sustainable or the best use of funds in respect of the armed forces or taxpayer’s money, said FMV spokesperson Louise Wileen Bjarke.
Saab, which maintains that it could quickly create the capacity needed to build and modernize submarines, has declined to comment on market reports that it is engaged in exploratory talks that could see it takeover TKMS’ operations from ThyssenKrupp.
Sweden’s MoD, the FMV and ThyssenKrupp also declined to comment on a possible state-support acquisition push.
ThyssenKrupp, through its subsidiary Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), acquired the then-Kockums Naval Systems business from Swedish industrial Celsius AB in 1999. HDW later became part of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.
The divestment placed Sweden’s submarine production capability under foreign ownership.
Along with Saab’s fighter production capability, submarine warfare represented the two biggest strands of Sweden’s indigenous defense industry.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has told Ukrainian forces in Crimea to surrender by 5 a.m. on Tuesday or face a military assault, Interfax news agency quoted a source in the Ukrainian Defence Ministry as saying.
The ultimatum, Interfax said, was issued by Alexander Vitko, the fleet’s commander.
The ministry did not immediately confirm the report and there was no immediate comment by the Black Sea Fleet, which has a base in Crimea, where Russian forces are in control.
“If they do not surrender before 5 a.m. tomorrow, a real assault will be started against units and divisions of the armed forces across Crimea,” the agency quoted the ministry source as saying.
Troops take Crimea terminal
Pro-Russian troops controlled a ferry terminal on the easternmost tip of Ukraine’s Crimea region close to Russia on March 3, intensifying fears that Moscow will send even more troops into the strategic Black Sea region in its tense dispute with its neighbor.
The seizure of the terminal in the Ukrainian city of Kerch about 20 kilometers by boat to Russia, comes as the U.S. and European governments try to figure out ways to halt and reverse the Russian incursion.
Early on March 3, soldiers were operating the terminal, which serves as a common departure point for many Russian-bound ships. The men refused to identify themselves, but they reportedly spoke Russian and the vehicles transporting them had Russian license plates.
Russia has taken effective control of the Crimean peninsula without firing a shot. Now, the fears in the Ukrainian capital and beyond are that that Russia might seek to expand its control by seizing other parts of eastern Ukraine. Senior Obama administration officials said the U.S. now believes that Russia has complete operational control of Crimea, a pro-Russian area of the country, and has more than 6,000 troops in the region.
Tension between Ukraine and Moscow rose sharply after Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was pushed out by a protest movement among people who wanted closer ties with the European Union. Yanukovych fled to Russia after more than 80 demonstrators were killed near Kiev’s central square. Since then, troops that Ukraine says are Russian soldiers have moved into Crimea, patrolling airport, smashing equipment at an airbase and besieging Ukrainian military installations.
Outrage over Russia’s military moves mounted in world capitals, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calling on President Vladimir Putin to pull back from “an incredible act of aggression.” Kerry is to travel to Ukraine on March 4.
Britain’s Hague meets with Yatsenyuk
Meanwhile, Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague met with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and laid a bouquet of flowers on Kiev’s Independence Square where the slain demonstrators are being commemorated. Hague said it was urgent to get Russia and Ukraine “in direct communication with each other.”
Hague said on the BBC that Moscow would face “significant costs” for taking control of Crimea.
“If Russia continues on this course we have to be clear this is not an acceptable way to conduct international relations. That is something that Russia has to recognize … There will certainly be significant costs,” Hague said. “There are things that we can do about it and must do about it.”
He suggested economic sanctions were possible. “The world cannot just allow this to happen,” he said.
Putin has defied calls from the West to pull back his troops, insisting that Russia has a right to protect its interests and those of Russian-speakers in Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine.
While much of western Ukraine wants closer ties with the 28-nation European Union, its eastern and southern regions like Crimea look to Russia for support.
Faced with the Russian threat, Ukraine’s new government has moved to consolidate its authority, naming new regional governors in the pro-Russia east, enlisting the support of the country’s wealthy businessmen and dismissing the head of the country’s navy after he declared allegiance to the pro-Russian government in Crimea.
Emergency meeting in Brussels
NATO held an emergency meeting in Brussels and the U.S., France and Britain debated the possibility of boycotting the next Group of Eight economic summit, to be held in June in Sochi, the host of Russia’s successful Winter Olympics.
On March 3 evening, the White House issued a joint statement on behalf of the Group of Seven saying they are suspending participation in the planning for the upcoming summit because Russia’s advances in the Ukraine violate the “principles and values” on which the G-7 and G-8 operate.
Russia has long wanted to reclaim the lush Crimean Peninsula, part of its territory until 1954. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet pays Ukraine millions annually to be stationed at the Crimean port of Sevastopol and nearly 60 percent of Crimea’s residents identify themselves as Russian.
Reports are surfacing at several sources that China may have been able to convince Turkey not to grant permission for NATO ships to pass through the Bosphorus to reach the Black Sea. Although details of the exact Chinese argument to Turkish authorities still remain elusive, a delegation of key Chinese diplomats is said to be involved.
China and Turkey are yet to officially confirm or deny the allegations.
According to Chinese diplomatic sources, China will readily veto and decision by the UN Security Council against Russia regarding the developments in Ukraine following a UK call for an emergency UNSC meeting.
Turkey’s Power Over The Straights
The Montreux Convention regarding the regime of the straights is a 1936 international agreement that gives Turkey control over the Bosphorus Straights and the Dardanelles, and regulates the transit of naval warhips. The convention gives Turkey full control over the straights and guarantees the free passage of civilian vessels in peacetime while restricting passage of naval ships not belonging to Black Sea states. The terms of the convention have been a source of controversy over the years, most notably concerning the Soviet Union’s military access to the Mediterranean Sea.
Signed on 20 July 1936, it permitted Turkey to remilitarize the straights. In went into effect on 9 November 1936 and was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on 11 December 1936. it is still in force today with some amendments.
A controversial project named Kanal istanbul attempts to create a secondary, artificial canal that will be parallel to the Bosphorus and also connect the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea. It may be a possible by pass to the Montreux Contention and allow greater Turkish autonomy with respect to the passage of military ships.
Turkey has started engineering work to adapt a naval version of its successful UMTAS missile system for its fleet of Seahawk helicopters, TR Defence sources reported on Sunday.
The project is managed by ARMERKOM, a Turkish scientific and research institute operated by the Turkish Navy, Cengiz Topel Naval Aviation Command, and Turkey’s leading missile and aerospace company Roketsan, maker of a large family of rockets and guided missiles such as the Cirit.
The new missile will operate similar to the American Hellfire system and will be named Mizrak-U. First integration of the naval missiles on Turkish Seahawks is expected in 2015.
UMTAS is an extremely effective infrared guided, fire and forget capable anti-tank missile with a range of 8 kilometers (5 miles). It can be used against both static and moving targets day and night, including under adverse weather conditions.
The Turkish Cabinet has approved of a cooperation agreement between Turkey and Algeria in the defense industry, a notice published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday said.
The agreement between the two countries, which underlines cooperation in research and development in the defense industry, the production of military accoutrements and providing technical assistance in modernizing those accoutrements, was signed on May 7, 2013.
The agreement says both countries stipulate cooperating on knowledge and expert exchange, developing the abilities of personnel working in the field, providing technical and logistical support and enhancing the capacities of the defense industries in both countries.
With this agreement, Turkey and Algeria will engage in joint projects in R&D and the design and development of military equipment, weapon
systems and auxiliary equipment.
Defense Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Mustafa Avc? signed the agreement on behalf of Turkey.
Chinese Avic’s acquisition of German Thielert, leaves the first Turkishmade drone, the Anka, without an engine. Turkish officials are worried that buying of Thielert, engines supplier of Anka, may delay the project.
It looked entirely like any other business takeover between the Chinese and Germans with no relevance to Turkey. But the news that a Chinese group had acquired the troubled German maker of aircraft engines means Turkey must now find a new engine supplier for its first indigenous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the Anka.
Turkish officials and the Anka team are now worried that Chinese group Avic International’s acquisition of Thielert, a bankrupt German maker of diesel engines for aircraft may further delay the Anka which would otherwise have been powered by Thielert’s Centurion engine.
Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) which develops the Anka had ordered the Centurion for a batch of 10 aircraft. Now TAI must look elsewhere to find a new engine to power the Anka.
The ANKA is a medium-altitude long-endurance MALE-category drone. Such UAVs usually operate for 24 hours at an altitude of 10,000 feet.
ANKA, meaning Phoenix in English, is the first MALE-type UAV to be produced by TAI. One of the prototypes crashed during a test flight in September but several other flight tests have been carried out successfully.
ANKA+, another version of the ANKA, calls for an armed vehicle, using a rocket attached to its body and sensors.
An engine maybe developed to replace
“An immediate replacement could be a difficult task,” a TAI official said. “We may, though, ask TEI (TAI’s sister company that manufactures engine parts) to develop an engine for the Anka.” Both TAI and TEI (Turkish Engine Industries) are owned by a military support fund.
The engine problem occurred at a time when defense procurement authorities are preparing to sign a contract for the acquisition of 10 ANKAs. Separately, the Turkish police force is also preparing to place an order for the Anka.
Before the engine snag, another problem had delayed the Anka program. A locally-developed electro optical sensor, by military electronics firm Aselsan, did not fit Anka’s specifications and TAI was mulling to opt for a foreign pod.
Avic said in August that it was merging Thielert into its Continental Motors division and was giving up military business. Deliveries had stopped, the state-run Chinese company announced.
Thielert was supplying engines for aircraft including a U.S. Army version of the General Atomics Predator. General Atomics has acquired the engine data package and intends to continue production and support.
Satellite-controled version of ANKA
The ANKA had successfully passed acceptance tests late in January. The final, decisive tests on Jan. 20-21 involved a full endurance, 18-hour flight, successful auto landing, data link performance at a distance of 200 km (approx. 120 miles) under winds up to 45 knots, and night take-offs and landings. The ANKA has so far did more than 150 flight hours. There is a possibility that TAI could develop a satellite-controlled version of the ANKA, company officials say.
A defense industry expert said that finding a new engine supplier may not resolve the entire problem. “Any new engine will have to be fitted into the Anka which was designed for the Thielert engine. This will require new (engine) integration work. New tests should also be done,” he said.
TR Defence’s North America correspondent and acting editor-in-chief Hasan Karaahmet has interviewed Mr. Mike Boots, Patriot Turkey Program Manager at Raytheon Defense Systems, to shed light on some of the most common questions Turkish defense enthusiasts ask regarding Turkey’s T-LORAMIDS long-range air defence program.
Hasan Karaahmet: Mr. Boots, thank you for agreeing to talk to our readers. As a time-tested, battle-proven system, many countries around the world depend on the Patriot, both NATO and non-NATO. What is the driving force behind Patriot’s huge commercial success to this day?
Mike Boots: No other existing system has the proven combat experience of Patriot to engage evolving threats; and no other air and missile defense system has demonstrated the reliability and lower cost of system ownership. Patriot is the backbone of NATO’s lower tier defense, and as you know, Patriot is currently deployed in Turkey by NATO members Germany, the Netherlands and the United States.
Hasan Karaahmet: What is the current level of deployment around the world?
Mike Boots: There are currently over 200 Patriot fire units deployed around the world with Raytheon’s 12 Patriot partners. More than 40 Patriot fire units are now in construction or are undergoing modernization.
Hasan Karaahmet: How about the US? How long does the US military itself plan on using the Patriot air defence system?
Mike Boots: The US Army has committed to fielding Patriot beyond the year 2048.
Hasan Karaahmet: What’s Raytheon’s policy on investments in Turkey?
Mike Boots: Raytheon has a long history working in Turkey — from ground based air defence systems like Stinger and Hawk to tactical radars like Firefinder and Sentinel. From our family of air-to-air missiles like AMRAAM and AIM-9 to naval command management systems like Genesis. Raytheon is committed to partnerships with Turkish industry.
Hasan Karaahmet: Any cooperation prospects in regards to Patriot?
Mike Boots: We are already working closely with several Turkish defence companies to produce Patriot components for export to other countries. For example, Aselsan is a key strategic partner for Raytheon on the Antenna Mast Group for the UAE Patriot system. Roketsan is also a key strategic partner, producing components of GEM-T missile for the UAE and Kuwait. Also, Pagatel is producing command and control shelters, and AYESAS is working on the command and control integration.
Hasan Karaahmet: Turkey’s Undersecreteriat for Defence Industries, the SSM, has adopted a procurement policy favoring local production and technology sharing. What are Raytheon’s views on this?
Mike Boots: Both Roketsan and Aselsan have been awardedRaytheon’s prestigious Supplier Excellence awards for the past two years for the excellent work they have performed on these programs. We anticipate increased global Patriot work share for Roketsan and Aselsan and have recently signed long-ter, agreements with these great companies for collaboration on advanced technology co-development projects in the area of high altitude missile defense. In addition to these strategic partner companies I mentioned, many other Turkish defence companies have the experience and skills we look for in our suppliers. As we win in other countries, they will get the opportunity to compete for additional work for those programs.
Hasan Karaahmet: Can the Patriot system be operated in conjunction with an Aselsan radar or launch a Turkish-made missile with comparable capabilities?
Mike Boots: Patriot can use data and information from a wide variety of sources and can interface with a variety of equipment, including missiles. We would need to know the specific sensors or effectors we are talking about in order to adequately answer that question.
Hasan Karaahmet: Does the US government or certain laws restrict the transfer of know-how on any subsystem or component of Patriot to Turkey?
Mike Boots: No! Turkey is a valuable ally of the United States and a NATO partner. Turkey’s T-LORAMIDS program fulfills an important NATO air and missile defence commitment.
Hasan Karaahmet: Certain reports appeared in the Turkish defence media indicate that the Patriot procurement has been tied to Turkey’s being granted access to F-35 source codes and the SM-2/Aegis technology for TF-2000 class frigates. What can you tell me about this?
Mike Boots: Intellectual property (IP) rights, such as software source codes, are often an issue to be negotiated in any sale of new technology. A customer’s desire for IP rights must be balanced with the rights of the inventor and owner of those rights through the negotiation process.
Hasan Karaahmet: Mr. Boots, how does Patriot compare to the other Western contender in T-LORAMIDS, Eurosam’s SAMP/T? What makes Patriot the better of the two?
Mike Boots: As I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, no other existing system has the proven combat experience of Patriot to engage evolving threats. No other air and missile defence system has demonstrated the reliability and lower cost of system ownership. Patriot is NATO’s lower tier defense with 200 Patriot fire units deployed around the world.
Hasan Karaahmet: In the past, we’ve published statements from mainly US sources that if Turkey opts for a non-Western solution, integration of the SAM system into NATO networks can be problematic. Can you explain to our viewers as to why this is the case?
Mike Boots: We have read and heard similar statements from various sources. NATO is very serious about protecting critical technology from falling into the hands of potential enemies. Patriot is a key element of NATO air and missile defence capability and works seamlessly with the NATO command and control architecture and other NATO defence systems. NATO would be very careful about what other systems might be connected to the architecture.
Hasan Karaahmet: What’s the future for Patriot? Is it going to continue to evolve with new capabilities beyond the GEM=T and PAC-3?
Mike Boots: The Patriot modernization roadmap will ensure Patriot remains the most advanced air and missile defence system in the world. If Turkey chooses Patriot for their long-range air and missile defense system, Turkish industry will have opportunities to participate in co-developing new technologies to help keep Patriot on the leading edge of technology.
Norway has picked a South Korean shipyard and a British design to provide its navy with a new logistics and support vessel.
The Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation has selected Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) to build the 26,000-ton vessel at its yard in Okpo, South Korea, using BMT Defence Services AEGIR replenishment vessel design.
The Anglo-Korean team last year won a deal to equip the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary with four tankers using another variant of the AEGIR family of support vessels.
The latest contract is worth around £140 million to the two contractors. Delivery of the vessel, which will be the largest in the Norwegian Navy, is scheduled for October 2016.
The vessel will be able to deliver a range of wet and dry stores and will provide support to a Norwegian task group and other roles.
DMSE was selected as the preferred bidder in April, having beat off competition from several rival yards from Europe and South Korea.
The original competition for the support vessel was abandoned last year after bids failed to meet the Norwegian budget. The requirement was rescoped and the competition relaunched at the start of this year.
The deal is the latest in a series of investments by the Norwegians to modernize their navy. To date, that has centered on the acquisition of five Fridtjof Nanse class frigates and a new fleet of fast patrol boats. A decision on what to do about retaining a submarine capability beyond the current Ula-class boats is expected next year.