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.
Turkey and the United States have intensified political and military dialogue for strategic planning to smoothly deliver U.S. weapons to the Free Syria Army (FSA), following Washington’s decision to supply military assistance to the Syrian rebels in their fight against the Bashar al-Assad’s army, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.
On the political level, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Secretary of State John Kerry exchanged two phone calls, one on Saturday and the other late Wednesday, to discuss recent developments in Syria on the eve of a crucial core group meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People on Saturday in Doha. Kerry and Davutoğlu are also expected to hold a tête-à-tête meeting in Doha, in their first encounter since relations between the two allies were strained over the Gezi Park protests.
On the military-intelligence level, technical experts from the two countries are in intense talks to explore the best ways for the delivery of American weaponry to the FSA. Some representatives of the rebels have also been present in these meetings.
One of the most likely potential routes for the transportation of this weaponry into Syria is through Turkey, which has a long border with its southern neighbor, diplomatic sources said. Syria’s northern parts are under the FSA’s control and Turkey has stood as the best logistical center for the Syrian opposition since the turmoil broke in the country in 2011.
The Kerry-Davutoğlu phone conversation late Wednesday mainly addressed developments in Syria, following Washington’s policy change regarding arms supplies to the FSA.
No-fly zone on the agenda of Doha
“After this change of policy, they sure want to be in close coordination with us,” a Turkish Foreign Ministry official told the HDN. “The change in the U.S. position has impacts on the ground and at the political level. Just after Washington declared this change in their policy, 73 senior Syrian army officials -including some four-star generals – defected to Turkey,” the official said.
Davutoğlu is now expected to hold bilateral meetings with some of his counterparts in Doha, including with John Kerry.
The Doha meeting of 11 foreign ministers of the core group of the Friends of the Syrian People follows recent Syrian regime successes, which intensified its attacks to re-take control of the northern town of Aleppo, the country’s economic capital. The conference follows a high-level meeting in Ankara last week between the Friends of Syria, during which FSA commander Salim İdriss discussed the provision of military aid, including heavy weapons, according to Reuters.
“We will discuss everything, including the implementation of a no-fly zone over Syria,” Foreign Minister Davutoğlu said in an interview with private broadcaster TGRT late on Wednesday. The use of chemical weapons, which has been proven by the Turkish and U.S. governments, will also be discussed, while participant countries will explore how to swiftly provide aid to the opposition groups.
Aleppo is key for the FSA and Turkey
The regime’s success on the ground is seen as an warning among the international community. Regime forces’ retaking of critical passage point Qusayir, and particularly its marching toward Aleppo, were important developments on the ground that could give hope to al-Assad that he is winning the fight.
“The message we convey to the core group countries is that it’s time to give more support to the opposition. Al-Assad should not be brought to the point where he is winning the victory militarily. Because in this case, he would never approach us for a political solution,” the Turkish official stressed. Al-Assad’s achievements on the ground would make prospects for the 2nd Geneva meeting almost meaningless, Ankara believes.
Keeping the control of Aleppo is very significant not only for the FSA, but also for Turkey, which is concerned about a massive refugee influx from this town of 3 million people. An increase in the number of refugees fleeing Aleppo has recently been observed, as the total number of Syrians seeking asylum in Turkey has reached 205,000.
Teknopark Istanbul is heading fast toward its planned inauguration this August. It will host over 1,000 advanced technology companies and generate nearly $10 billion annually when completed .
Turkey’s commercial capital Istanbul generates an annual $140 billion and houses about 50 universities, but the country’s defense heavyweights are overwhelmingly located in and around the official capital Ankara. Now it’s time defense companies put one foot in Istanbul to make sensible partnerships with the world’s most prominent advanced technology companies and university-generated “science” in Istanbul.
The Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), Turkey’s sole defense procurement agency, wants the accumulated scientific and industrial knowledge in Istanbul to be introduced to the national defense industry. The venue for that ambition will be Teknopark Istanbul that opens late in August.
“Our principal mission is to contribute to the national innovation system and to boost the local industry’s international competitiveness through multinational partnerships and technological advancement. That’s a mission fully in line with the Turkish government’s strategic objective of creating an increasingly independent, competitive and export-oriented local industry,” explains Teknopark Istanbul’s CEO, Turgut Şenol.
Turkey’s “defense and aerospace Silicon Valley,” will operate a 950,000-square-meter indoor space at the Sabiha Gökçen Airport, accommodating more than 30,000 people, 1,000 top advanced technology companies, 18 universities and targeting $10 billion in defense and nondefense business annually, to become one of Europe’s largest technology parks.
Şenol aims to bring together companies and universities in Istanbul, targeting strategic fields like aviation, maritime, electronics, information technology, nanotechnology, energy and automotive, biotechnologies, automation systems, and robot technologies. Contracts have been signed with over 100 companies for the first phase of the project. SSM’s chief, Murad Bayar, once described Teknopark Istanbul as “Turkey’s best technological center.”
The huge lab’s major shareholders are SSM and the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce. The partners will spend $4 billion in the project in the next 12 to 15 years.
“This is not a profit-targeting venture for either partner. Presently, over 1,000 international companies are headquartered in Istanbul. We want these multinational entities to have a view of Istanbul not only from a commercial dimension, but also from a technology development aspect. We want to improve innovation on a national level by making us of local and foreign partners here and, thus, to turn scientific and academic knowledge into high-tech commodities,” Şenol explains.
Defense will be a priority sector but not the only one.
The defense industry is often a recipient of technology from several other sectors. There are many non-defense industries which supply technology to defense industry. “Aviation will have a special place in this project, as evinced by the fact that Teknopark Istanbul is located at one of Istanbul’s two airports. It will become one of the major reference points in aviation technologies in the next few years,” Şenol said.
Resident companies’ research and development activity at Teknopark Istanbul will be exempt from corporate and income tax. Similarly, software companies will be exempt from the value added tax. Operating costs like power will also be supplied at major discounts. Resident companies also will enjoy free of charge local and international consultancy services.
“Almost every major player in Turkish defense industry will be here. There is also great interest from Turkish and foreign automotive industry companies. We are now discussing modalities of residence with several major European and U.S. defense companies. There also will be advanced technology companies from the Far East,” Şenol said.
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.
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.
The Turkish Land Forces is due to receive the first of six Karayel tactical UAVs following a series of improvements implemented by manufacturer Vestel Defence.
The company expects to deliver the first example of what had been known as ‘Version II’ but is now the baseline version of the Karayel by mid-year, with the following five by the end of 2013.
Now 6.5m in length and featuring a 10.5m wing span, the upgraded Karayel has a maximum take-off weight of 550kg, doubling its payload and endurance, to 70kg and 20 hours respectively.
Speaking at the IDEF exhibition in Istanbul on 7 May, a company spokesman said after the earlier version had been demonstrated to the Turkish armed forces, the army determined it needed a slightly bigger, more capable aircraft and placed an order instead for six of the upgraded aircraft.
Vestel is confident that should the army determine it needs additional platforms, it has the capacity to be able to increase production to one aircraft per month.
The spokesman noted that while there was early interest from international customers, the company was ‘trying to keep everyone calm’ until the testing regime had finished and the current deliveries are made to the Turkish armed forces.
Vestel also used the exhibition to publicly unveil the smaller Bora UAV, which it is using to derisk the avionics, autopilot and datalink communications of the Karayel.
The company spokesman said many of the critical technologies were first demonstrated on the Bora before being integrated with the larger airframe.
However, the Bora will also be offered to the Turkish Armed Forces as a training aircraft for operators moving onto the Karayel as well as being marketed as a stand-alone product.
Sikorsky is still yet to sign a contract with Turkey for the license-manufacture of 109 T-70i Black Hawk helicopters, more than two years after the airframe was formally selected for the Turkish Utility Helicopter Programme.
In an instructive example of the pitfalls of doing business with a country that wants to maximise its domestic work-share, negotiations between Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) and Sikorsky for a contract are only now gathering pace.
Sikorsky was originally announced as preferred bidder for the contract with a derivative of the Black Hawk helicopter at the end of April 2011.
However, a MoU setting out the broad terms and conditions of the agreement was only recently signed between the two organisations, and the final terms and conditions are now being resolved.
Speaking to Shephard at the IDEF exhibition in Istanbul, a Sikorsky spokesman said despite the protracted negotiations, the company felt that contract award was ‘close’.
As well as heavily involving Turkish industry in the manufacture of the helicopters for the Turkish military and government agencies, Sikorsky has committed to buying Turkish-produced S-70i helicopters on a ‘one-for-one’ basis for export.
‘The larger issues have been resolved and we are working on the final terms of conditions of the contract,’ the spokesman said on 7 May.
As if to reinforce his optimism, the SSM released a statement the same day stating it ‘intended to finalise the negotiations that will result in a contract award to build Black Hawk utility helicopters in Turkey’.
‘Estimated at $3.5 billion, the total programme value to Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), as the prime contractor, is inclusive of work to be performed by Sikorsky and other programme partners,’ the statement said.
Aircraft components such as blades, the cabin and the cockpit will be manufactured and aircraft will be assembled in Turkey by TAI. The avionics suite is being designed by Aselsan; the engine will be manufactured by TEI under the license of GE; while the landing gear and transmission will be manufactured by ALP Aviation, which is 50% owned by Sikorsky.
Under Sikorsky’s original industrial plan for the programme, the Aselsan avionics package, which features four 8×10 inch multi-function displays, a new man-machine interface and modern software architecture, will be the baseline suite for all S-70i aircraft following its certification.
The Aselsan cockpit is not now expected to be ready until 2017-2018, raising questions over whether the project will be delayed further awaiting its integration.
A Geneva-based NGO starts training military and legal officials in the armed Free Syrian Army (FSA) on the basics of international humanitarian law in Turkey’s southeastern provinces.
Officials from Geneva Call, which aims to convince non-state actors to respect international humanitarian and human rights law, will conduct the three-day trainings for the Free Syrian Army members first in Gaziantep and then in Hatay province.
‘Fighter, not Killer’
The workshop, titled “Fighter not Killer,” will be held between May 10 and 12 in Gaziantep. The same workshop will take place in Hatay’s Reyhanlı district May 13 to 15. A source from the Syrian National Coalition told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday that the workshop would not be military training but rather would draw attention to international humanitarian law, stating that some of the FSA fighters had not been soldiers before the uprising in the country.
The fighters will be told not to allow children become fighters even if they demand it. The workshop aims to teach the fighters that they are not killers, and how to treat captured soldiers from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
The workshop revolves around 15 rules of international humanitarian law that represent the basic standards of military conflicts.
The brochures for the training the Syrian Coalition sent to the Daily News show drawings such as a fighter using civilians as human shield, labeling it an incorrect practice. The drawings urge fighters not to risk the lives of civilians. It also shows that fighting in a vehicle disguised as humanitarian relief is an incorrect practice as it puts real relief workers at risk. One of the videos that will be shown at the workshops shows that tying the hands or feet of captured soldiers or blindfolding them in prison is an incorrect practice.
A Syrian source told the Daily News that they had already organized the first of these workshops in Hatay two months ago.
Eurocopter plans to test fire Roketsan’s Cirit laser guided missile from an EC635 by the end of the year, it has emerged.
The two companies are working under a MoU signed in 2011 to integrate the Cirit on the aircraft and aim to carry out a flight demonstration in September or October. It has yet to be determined whether this would take place in South Africa or Turkey.
Speaking at the IDEF exhibition, Eurocopter representatives said that following the demonstration, the Cirit would be offered as an optional addition to the EC635/645 weapons package.
Unlike similar weapons developed in the US, which are essentially guidance kits for 2.75 inch unguided rockets, Cirit has been developed to fill the gap between such weapons and larger anti-tank missiles.
Turkish Aerospace Industries is currently working to integrate the Cirit with the full ATAK-standard T-129, designated the T-129B, which will be delivered to the Turkish armed forces from 2014.
Eurocopter also used the exhibition to release details of the increased capabilities of the new EC635 T3/P3.
The upgraded variant features a revamped rotor design, rotor blades that are 10cm longer, an upgraded FADEC software suite, and lateral air inlets that are compatible with inlet barrier filter systems.
The improvements have increased the maximum take-off weight of the aircraft by 30kg to 2,980 kg.
Christian Fanchini, Eurocopter’s military operational marketing manager, explained that the increased payload becomes even more significant in hot and high conditions.
At an altitude of 2,134 m in ISA+20 conditions, the payload increase is 240kg while at altitudes above 914 m in ISA+35 conditions, the increase is 270 kg.
Eurocopter vice president of sales for Europe, Thomas Hein, explained that there was an increasing demand from armed forces around the world for lighter helicopters to be employed in the scout/light attack role.
‘Rather than the heavier transport helicopters, more and more military users are looking to introduce lighter aircraft, such as the [UH-72] Lakota with the US Army. More and more militaries are recognising the benefits of going to a lighter platform and the versatility that provides,’ Hein said.