Hungary’s Fire Sale of Soviet Military Hardware

Hungary announced Monday plans to sell off its old Soviet-made tanks and fighter planes, saying they were in “very good condition” but expensive to maintain.

Zoltan Borbiro, state secretary for the defense ministry, said MIG 29 fighter jets and T-72 tanks, military equipment and clothing would all be up for sale later this year.

“Since Hungary’s transition from communism in 1990, the army has been organized on a professional and modern basis, and a part of our military inventory is no longer compatible with NATO requirements,” he said.

“It won’t be an easy sale,” he admitted.

Hungary scrapped conscription in 2004 and now maintains an army of some 19,000 soldiers, down from around 140,000 during the Warsaw Pact era.

Hungary sold 77 of its stock of 180 T-72 tanks to the newly formed Iraqi army in 2005.

DefenseNews

Turkey May Adopt Chinese Air Defence System

China’s HQ-9 is strengthening its position in the Turkish long-range missile defence tender T-LORAMIDS.

Turkey is strongly leaning toward adopting a Chinese long-range anti-missile and air defense system, Turkish procurement officials said, even though it may be impossible  to integrate the system with its existing NATO architecture.

One senior procurement official familiar with the program said the Turkish government has concluded that the Chinese proposal was technologically satisfactory, allowed technology transfer and was much cheaper than rival proposals.

The decision to select the Chinese contender awaits final approval from Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The decision would be finalized and officially announced at the next meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Committee, chaired by Erdogan, which oversees major procurement decisions. No date has been set for the meeting.

In January, Turkey restructured the $4 billion program, dubbed T-Loramids, which had originally been constructed as an off-the-shelf purchase. The contenders’ bids would remain valid, but the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) procurement office would ask bidders to submit parallel, co-production solutions. Erdogan ordered the launch of feasibility studies on “potential co-production” of the system.

T-Loramids consists of radar, launcher and intercept missiles.

The same month, SSM wrote to the bidders and asked them to send letters of intent for any co-production deal. The bidders are a U.S. partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, offering the Patriot air defense system; Russia’s Rosoboronexport, marketing the S-300; the China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp., offering its HQ-9; and the Italian-French consortium Eurosam, maker of the SAMP/T Aster 30.

T-Loramids, has been designed to counter both enemy aircraft and missiles. Turkey has no long-range air defense systems.

But diplomats and analysts warn that Turkey may not be allowed to integrate the Chinese-Turkish system into Turkey’s mostly NATO-owned early warning assets.

“I cannot comment on how the [US] administration would react to that. But I can tell you that integrating a Chinese or Chinese-Turkish air defense system into NATO assets may not be a good idea,” a US diplomat here said.

A Western industry source  said that US officials have warned the Turkish bureaucrats several times about the potential difficulties in achieving interoperability if Turkey decided to go for a Chinese or a Russian architecture.

“I see that the Turks remain defiant. But I do not think it would be practically possible to integrate either the air defense or the anti-missile components of the planned Turkish-Chinese architecture into NATO radars,” a London-based Turkey specialist said. “The Turks would have the same problem if they chose the Russian system, but I think for the Americans, China represents a more direct threat.”

About half of Turkey’s network-based air defense picture (radars) has been paid for by NATO, said a Turkish defense official familiar with NATO work. They are part of the NATO Air Defense Ground Environment. He did not comment on potential problems if Turkey wanted to make the planned system interoperable with these assets.

To defend against missile threats, Turkey needs satellite and dedicated ballistic missile detection and tracking radar like the NATO radar deployed last year in Kurecik.

For the anti-aircraft component, Turkey needs an overall picture for data fusion.  The Patriot system, for instance, can detect threats with its own radar. So does the Chinese system. But without integrating into a full air picture,  the Chinese system could not work efficiently, officials said.

“Turkey can always decide to build a stand-alone system. But in that case, abstracting the air defense system from NATO assets would mean that Turkey will lose half of its radar capabilities,” said one defense analyst here.

He said Turkey would need interface data to make its own air defense architecture interoperable with NATO assets, primarily data on the identify friend or foe system.

“This is top secret and cannot be installed into any Chinese system,” the analyst said.

Another major question, he said, is “how would Turkey have in its possession a made-in-China IFF system, and how would that system be integrated into its fleet of F-16 aircraft?

“There is an important degree of incompatibility here and all in all any Chinese-Turkish co-production program would look problematic,” he said.

DefenseNews

Just open that damned chapter!

The European Union-Turkey relationship has again moved from one extreme to another. The end result is still the same: the accession process is still on hold. It was on hold when all the EU leaders were praising Turkey for its democratic and economic achievements; it is still on hold as some EU leaders are criticizing Turkey’s government for its harsh crackdown on protests and its interference in the press.   Like a pendulum, the mood changes, yet the facts remain: Croatia and Turkey started their EU accession processes together. Croatia got in last year, while Turkey is still waiting with quite a few chapters to go.

And look who is spearheading the criticism against Turkey’s harsh response to peaceful demonstrators.  Angela Merkel. Have we all forgotten Stuttgart 21? It made 2010 the year of water cannon politics for the chancellor. What was the major criticism against Angela Merkel at the time? Her harsh response to protestors. Stuttgart 21 was about an old train station to be replaced by an underground. It all started when the construction team started to cut down the trees in a nearby park that was to be annexed to the new station grounds. When protesters gathered, riot police showed up and dispersed them with water cannons and tear gas. That displayed the decisiveness of Angela Merkel. When you compare Gezi to Stuttgart 21, the only difference is in the competence of the riot police, if you ask me. The Germans are competent, Turks are not. The criticism on the lack of press freedom, I understand. But harsh response? Stuttgart 21 was harsh, too. That was the year when the CDU lost the state of Baden Württemberg to the Greens in the upcoming elections. It’s not hard to understand why. Populist politicians are the same everywhere, whether they are called Erdoğan or Merkel.

The protests in Taksim Square over cutting down trees in Gezi Park were part and parcel of the Euopeanization of Turkey. It all started with the trees. Unlike Stuttgart 21, fringe leftist groups were not at the core in Gezi Park, they came later. It was the young, urban professionals of Turkey who took to the streets. They are the result of the Europeanization of Turkey and on that day they took the country a few steps further in the same direction. The rapid spread of protests all around the country was partly a response to police brutality in Gezi Park and partly a call for the freedom of the press.

A very European reflex, if you ask me. I find the decision to block the new chapter in the Turkish accession process rather disappointing. Blaming it on harsh response to recent protests however, is rather hypocritical of Ms. Merkel.

Young urban professionals have decided to take action. The EU’s response to these most Europeanized of Turks should not be to abandon them. The people on the street created a conducive environment for a positive agenda. If the EU fails to seize this chance, it would be disgrace – a disgrace toward the protestors in Turkey and towards the ideals of the EU. So? Just open that damned chapter! Period.

Guven Sak

Thales: First A400M Full Flight Simulator Ready

The first A400M Full Flight Simulator (FFS) designed and built by Thales for  Airbus Military received European Aviation Safety Agency’s qualification for training on the 7 June at Airbus Military International Training Centre in Seville.

This qualification is a key enabling milestone that allows Airbus Military to  start to train A400M flight crews for their complex missions in a safe  environment.

The Full Flight Simulator utilises aircraft hardware and software that  represents the initial configuration of the A400M aircraft cockpit and simulates  the ground and flight operations of the aircraft in various natural and tactical  environments. It includes an enhanced field of view visual system that is  capable of supporting training in all aircraft manoeuvres, including air-to-air  refuelling and low level tactical operations. A six degrees of freedom motion  system, on-board and off-board instructor stations and a record and replay  system to aid crew briefing and debriefing is also provided.

As new aircraft data is made available, Thales and Airbus Military teams are  also working to obtain Level D certification for this simulator.

Peter Hitchcock, VP Avionics, Thales UK,  says: “Thales is the leading provider of training solutions for Military Aircraft with contracts to provide A400M Full Flight Simulators and Flat Panel Trainers  to Spain, France, Germany and UK. We are proud to offer our long-standing  experience to help train pilots for this exciting and highly capable new  aircraft”.

Thales is the main supplier of the A400M’s avionics system, covering cockpit  displays systems, Head-up displays, Flight management systems, Integrated  Modular avionics, Enhanced Vision System.

Through a joint venture with Airbus Military, Thales has also been selected  by the UK MoD for the provision of its through life support training service,  which includes the design, construction and management of the A400M training  school, the installation and maintenance of full flight simulators and all  synthetic training equipment, and support to the RAF’s own course design team  and training staff.

The training school will be built at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, with  work planned to complete in Spring 2014. The school will train a range of  aircrew and ground crew in the operation and maintenance of the RAF’s 22 A400M  Atlas aircrafts.

Thales has been a world leader in provision of training services for more  than 30 years.

The Atlas A400M is an all new military airlifter designed to meet the needs  of the world’s Armed Forces in the 21st Century. Thanks to its most advanced  technologies, it is able to fly higher, faster and further, while retaining high  manoeuvrability, low speed, and short, soft and rough airfield capabilities. It  combines both tactical and strategic/logistic missions, while being also able to  be used as a tanker plane. With its cargo hold specifically designed to carry  the outsize equipment needed today for both military and humanitarian disaster  relief missions, it can bring this material quickly and directly to where it is  most needed.

Conceived to be highly reliable, dependable, and with a great survivability,  the multipurpose Atlas A400M can do the job of three of today’s different  aircraft models in a single one. This means smaller fleets and less investment  from the operator. Able to do more with less, the Atlas A400M is the most cost  efficient and versatile airlifter ever conceived and absolutely unique in its  capabilities.

Thales is a global technology leader for the defence & security and the aerospace & transport markets. In 2011 the company generated revenues of £11.4 bn (€13  bn), with 65,000 employees in 56 countries. With its 22,500 engineers and  research­ers, Thales has a unique capability to design, develop and deploy  equipment, systems and services that meet the most complex security  requirements. Thales has an excep­tional inter­national footprint, with  operations around the world working with customers as local partners.

Thales UK employs 7,500 staff based at 35 locations. In 2011 Thales UK’s  revenues were around £1.4 bn.

DefenceTalk

British MoD Shut UFO Desk After Finding No Threat

LONDON — Britain’s defence ministry shut down its UFO unit four years ago after concluding that extra-terrestrials likely did not exist, and in any case did not pose a threat, previously secret files released Friday showed.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) closed its hotline in 2009 despite a trebling of reported sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) that year, many of them near national landmarks.

In a briefing for then-Defence Minister Bob Ainsworth, civil servant Carl Mantell said the UFO desk was using increasing amounts of staff time but had “no valuable defense output.”

He wrote in a memo that in more than 50 years, “no UFO sighting reported to (MoD) has ever revealed anything to suggest an extra-terrestrial presence or military threat to the UK.”

It added: “The level of resources diverted to this task is increasing in response to a recent upsurge in reported sightings, diverting staff from more valuable defence-related activities.”

The National Archives files reveal details of sightings recorded in the two years before the UFO desk was disbanded, including those around the Houses of Parliament and Stonehenge.

Between 2000 and 2007, the MoD received an average of 150 reports a year, but 520 sightings were recorded in the 11 months to November 2009, according to a briefing in the files.

Officials said one possible reason for the surge could have been the trend for releasing Chinese lanterns, which appear like floating lights in the sky.

Many sightings were made in the summer months by people out walking their dogs, having barbecues and, in one case, relaxing in a hot tub.

Defense News

Cirit & UMTAS on show for US border protection

The company expects to also test Roketsan’s UMTAS air-to-surface missile in the near future.

Based in Mooresville, North Carolina, Iomax USA (Chalet A132) has chosen the Paris Air Show to launch its ArchAngel border-patrol aircraft. The ArchAngel has a wide variety of sensor and weapon options available and offers customers a low-cost but highly effective platform for a range of ISR and light attack missions. ArchAngel is in many ways an evolution from the Air Tractor AT-802U armed agricultural aircraft that was previously displayed at Le Bourget. However, much has changed since then.

Although no AT-802Us were produced, Iomax undertook the integration of mission systems for 24 similar AT-802i aircraft that were sold to a customer that was widely reported in the media as being the United Arab Emirates. The ArchAngel builds on that aircraft, with some important changes, not least of which is a switch of airframe supplier to Thrush. Iomax made the change as it can now incorporate its own modifications on the production line, something that was not possible with the Air Tractor.

A new avionics suite is installed, with Esterline CMC Electronics and Honeywell components and an all-new cockpit. The weapon system has also been improved, and with it the range of weapons that is available. The main EO/IR sensor turret is changed from the FLIR Systems Britestar to an L-3 Wescam MX-15, although other turrets are options. The ArchAngel can also be fitted with missile defenses, such as the BAE Systems AAR-57 CMWS, and ballistic protection is an option. Iomax has also designed a flexible pod system that can mount EO/IR sensor turret, SAR/MTI radar, Sigint sensors, video and weapons datalinks, missile and radar warners and UAV command and control systems.

Here at the Paris Air Show the ArchAngel is being displayed with a range of weapons, including the Hellfire missile and Roketsan Cirit laser-guided rocket. Iomax undertook the first firings of Cirit from a fixed-wing aircraft in January, firing the weapon from an AT-802i at a range in the Middle East. Final qualification of this weapon is expected in late August/early September. The company expects to also test Roketsan’s UMTAS air-to-surface missile in the near future, as well as an FN Herstal 0.5-in caliber machine gun pod. Both are represented on the aircraft here in the static display. GBU-12 laser-guided bombs can be dropped and guided, as well as INS-guided weapons. Iomax is shortly to fly a twin-rack launcher that it has developed for these 500-pound class smart bombs.

ArchAngel’s show debut is being made at Paris after a commendably short installation program. Iomax received the aircraft from the Thrush factory in March, and in less than three months had the aircraft back in the air in late May with its new avionics suite and cockpit. The company hopes to undertake in-country demonstrations to potential customers later in the year.

AIN Online

Turkey Picks Saab To Mentor National Fighter Program

Turkey has selected  Saab to help shape its plans to design, develop and manufacture its first national fighter jet.

Ankara has already drafted three models, one of which likely will become its first indigenous fighter, although some analysts said Turkey should have opted for an unmanned model.

“After lengthy negotiations with Saab, we have come to the conclusion to go ahead with this company to finalize our feasibility studies,” a senior procurement official familiar with the national fighter program said.

He said that the Swedish aerospace and defense group  already has assisted with the three models Turkish engineers have drafted, and these would be presented to top management at the country’s arms procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), as well as to the Air Force.

“We are working to make that presentation in September or October,” the official said.

The Saab group’s office here did not respond to questions by press time.

An official from Tusas Aerospace Industries (TAI), the local prime contractor for the program, said that one of the three drafts is a twin-engine stealth aircraft and the other two are single-engine models, also stealthy.

The procurement official said the program has two problems to overcome.

“We need to pick up the right engine manufacturer with which we should be able to work out a long-term relationship. That will be essential. Also, we need to know that a meticulously devised cost-benefit analysis should prove this is a feasible program,” he said.

A government official said the final decision on whether to launch the manufacturing phase would be made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“A lot will depend on the findings of the cost-benefit analysis in progress now,” the official said. “We would accept a certain margin that will make the Turkish fighter reasonably more expensive than available options. But if we find out that we could only manufacture a fighter, say, [at a cost] 40 to 50 percent more expensive than a proven, off-the-shelf buy option, then the prime minister would probably drop the idea.”

According to a draft plan, the country is aiming for a maiden flight for its national fighter jet in 2023, the Turkish Republic’s centennial. Production would commence in 2021, and deliveries to the Air Force are planned between 2025 and 2035. The aircraft would remain in service until 2060.

“This is a long-term plan, and given technological developments in the global aerospace scene, the Turks should perhaps have gone for an unmanned fighter,” a London-based Turkey specialist said.

Earlier, TAI signed a technical assistance deal with Saab to carry out conceptual design work. This followed an August 2011 deal signed with SSM to begin the conceptual design work for the fighter and trainer jets that Turkey hopes to build.

Designing the first Turkish fighter, according to defense analysts, is a necessary but not critical step.

“What is crucial here is whether this project would enable Turkey to earn capabilities to successfully integrate avionics, electronics and weapon systems into the chosen platform,” the London-based analyst said.

Saab produces the JAS 39 Gripen, a lightweight, single-engine multirole fighter. Saab has cooperated with other aerospace companies in marketing the aircraft and has achieved moderate success in Central Europe, South Africa and Southeast Asia. More than 240 Gripens have been delivered or ordered.

In 2010, Sweden awarded Saab a four-year contract to improve the Gripen’s equipment, integrate new weapons and lower operating costs. Last August, Sweden announced it planned to buy 40 to 60 Gripen NGs. The Swedish order followed Switzerland’s decision to buy 22 E/F variants of the jet.

For its fighter program, dubbed TF-X, Turkey hopes to copy the method devised to co-produce T-129 attack helicopters with Italian-British AgustaWestland.

“We think this model has worked successfully and could be a template for our fighter program,” the TAI official said.

Turkey also plans to buy the F-35. But Turkish officials said they wanted to develop a fighter jet with another country to reduce Turkey’s dependence on Washington.

HDN

Turkey Looks Into Fifth-Gen Complement To JSF

Turkey’s aviation industry has come a long way since it began building F-16 Fighting Falcons in the 1980s. Now it is confident that it can produce an aircraft in-country that will not only replace the F-16 but complement the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in years to come. 

Turkish Aviation Industries (TAI) has been working quietly on ideas for a fifth-generation fighter, dubbed the F-X, for several years, but 2013 represents a critical year in the decision-making process for the project. A $20 million two-year concept phase, started in August 2011, will end this September, and a meeting of Turkey’s Defense Industry Executive Committee, which takes place at year-end, will define how the program will begin to take shape.

At the IDEF defense show in Istanbul last month, TAI displayed three potential single-seat design concepts for the aircraft: two conventional monoplane layouts, one with a single engine, not dissimilar to the F-35, and one with two engines, while the third featured canard foreplanes and a large delta wing. Each of the concepts features elements of design associated with fifth-generation fighter aircraft, such as faceted fuselages to reduce radar cross-section, internal weapons bays, super-cruise capability as well as advanced avionics and an active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system. Engineers have received input from Saab, which was drafted to consult on the program.

TAI officials suggest that the two single-engine concepts will have maximum takeoff weights (MTOW) of 50,000-60,000 lb., while the twin-engine version will have an MTOW of 60,000-70,000 lb. Diagrammatic drawings of the twin-engine aircraft show two weapons bays, one located between the air intakes that can house a pair of small short-range air-to-air missiles, and the other in front of the engines housing four larger missiles around the size of the AIM-120 Amraam.

According to industry officials, the requirements defined by the Turkish air force have changed at least three times, with the specification narrowing to what TAI and Turkish industry will be able to achieve in the coming years. Of the designs shown at IDEF, the twin-engine concept meets the requirements set by the air force, say industry officials, but the service prefers a single-engine aircraft to reduce cost and complexity. Although envisaged as a multirole fighter, TAI officials say the air force may give the resulting aircraft more of an air-to-air/air-dominance role as a primary mission.

Under the current timetable, Turkey will develop the aircraft at the same time as it is paying for the F-35.  TAI wants to achieve a first flight for the F-X within 10 years. While the F-35 is set to replace the F-4 Phantoms and early F-16s in the air force inventory, the service sees the F-X replacing later models of the F-16 fleet purchased through various iterations of the Peace Onyx program. The last F-16 produced by TAI was delivered to the air force in December as part of the Peace Onyx IV program.

Tony Osborne

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.