Dangers of Greece’s Radical Parties

Leftist march in Greece.

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.

Greek’s  Radical Left: The Dangers of the Disaffected and the Unemployed is  republished with permission of Stratfor.”


Aegis Radar Appears on Italian Ship

Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri is well known for showing a wide array of designs at naval expositions, and a huge model of the Italian Navy’s sail training ship Amerigo Vespucci dominates their display at the Euronaval exposition just outside Paris. But tucked in among more than two dozen ship models is a frigate design featuring something quite different for the company — four Aegis SPY1-D radar panels on the forward superstructure, along with a Mark 41 vertical launch system.

It appears to be the first time a shipbuilder is showing the Aegis system on a ship other than a U.S. design and its Japanese and South Korean derivatives, or on frigates built or designed by Spanish shipyard Navantia for the Spanish, Norwegian and Australian navies.

Fincantieri’s “theater ballistic missile defense surface combatant” is a concept design, intended to show that the Aegis system, currently the only shipborne ballistic missile defense (BMD) system, can be installed on a ship with a hull similar to the FREMM multimission frigates built by Italy and France.

No European government has announced a current requirement to build a BMD ship, but an industry source said the design is meant to show that Fincantieri already is thinking along those lines and has a design readily adapted to the BMD role.

No formal relationship with Lockheed Martin is behind the design, the industry source said.

A Lockheed Martin spokesman at Euronaval declined comment on Fincantieri’s design, other than to say there was no formal agreement between Lockheed and Fincantieri to develop an Aegis frigate.

“They are clearly linked with Navantia on their Aegis frigates,” the industry source said of Lockheed. “But this could be a winning solution too,” referring to the Fincantieri design.

The 6,500-ton Fincantieri Aegis frigate uses the 144-meter hull of a FREMM variant designed for Brazil, powered by a combined diesel and gas turbine arrangement.

Fincantieri, however, has a strong relationship with Lockheed on a non-Aegis program. The firm owns Fincantieri Marinette Marine, which builds Lockheed’s littoral combat ship in Marinette, Wis.

And while Lockheed has produced several potential export designs of its LCS fitted with an Aegis system, there are no active plans to build such ships.

Finmeccanica Completes First Tests for NATO Cyber Security System

The Finmeccanica Cyber Solutions team selected in February 2012 to fulfil the  NATO Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC) – Full Operating Capability  (FOC) requirement, has completed the testing phase of the programme’s Proof of  Concept in line with the challenging timescale set by NATO. NCIRC FOC will  provide a highly adaptive and responsive system to help protect NATO from  cyber-attacks against both its mobile and static Communication  and Information Systems.

This world-class team led by Finmeccanica (FNC IM, SIFI.MI), comprising its  companies SELEX Elsag, SELEX Systems Integration and VEGA, together with its  partner Northrop  Grumman, is leveraging its wealth of experience in addressing complex  cyber-defence requirements.

The completion of the testing phase of the Proof of Concept, confirms that  the programme continues to meet its objectives and demonstrates the value of the  team’s multi-national capability, leadership in the development and delivery of  cyber defence solutions, and unrivalled experience of multi-domain cyber  programmes for government and defence customers in the US, UK,  Italy and other countries around the world.

Once delivered, NCIRC FOC will provide an agile, flexible and interoperable  solution featuring advanced cyber defence systems to protect NATO static  commands, crisis operations, NATO signal battalions, Article V Operations and  the NATO Reaction Force.

“With the completion of the testing of the Proof of Concept, we have achieved  an important stage in delivering the NCIRC FOC. This reflects the growing  partnership between NATO, Finmeccanica and our Northrop Grumman partner,” said  Giuseppe Orsi, Chairman and CEO of Finmeccanica.

“Through our chosen solution, NATO will be able to improve their capability  to counter the ever increasing and sophisticated threat from cyber-attack.

“The successful achievement of this important milestone is a further step  towards full implementation of NATO’s CIRC capability and demonstrates the  growing strength of the partnership we have established on this programme”, said  Mike Papay, Vice President Cyber Initiatives of Northrop Grumman Information  Systems.

“We look forward to continuing to apply the full range of our resources and  decades-long cyber security  experience both in the U.S and U.K., to ensure the successful delivery of this  programme.”


Serial Production Started in Key Weapon Programs

Turkey's nationally developed UMTAS anti-tank missiles and Cirit laser-guided rockets on display at a military exhibition in Istanbul.

The head of the under-secretariat for the defense industry, Murad Bayar, has outlined Turkey’s armaments objectives in coming years. This year, Turkey plans to finish tests on several national weapons systems that have been developed and move to the serial production phase. In the next stage, building on that momentum, Turkey plans to increase its arms exports as well as reduce its reliance on imports (Anadolu Ajansi, January 23).

During the past decade, Turkey has embarked on ambitious programs to reduce its dependence on external sources for the procurement needs of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF), the second largest army in NATO. On the one hand, through stringent rules on procurement tenders, Ankara wanted to ensure that domestic firms will take part in the production of imported weapons systems, as well as enabling technology transfers. On the other hand, building on the accumulation of knowledge gained from these joint projects and the assistance and subsidies provided to the domestic arms industry and R&D activities, Turkey has been working to develop several “national” weapons systems. So far, Ankara’s ambitious national arms projects included the development of a national warship, main battle tank, attack helicopter, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and an infantry rifle.

Turkey has been cooperating with Italy’s Augusta-Westland on an attack helicopter project, which is aimed at resolving the Turkish army’s deficiencies in its fight against the PKK. Earlier, a prototype of this helicopter was developed, which is going through flight and weapons systems tests (EDM, September 29, 2009). Turkey is proud of the attack helicopter deal and sees it almost as an advertisement for its recent national projects. Turkey obtained the sole production license from Italy and introduced the necessary modifications, in order that it meets the specific operational needs of its army in mountainous terrain. Moreover, reflecting its self-confidence in indigenous technological abilities, the electronic systems and the software of the helicopter will be developed in Turkey, meaning it will have full control over the platform’s operation. The weapons installed on the helicopter will also come from national weapons developed domestically in recent years, including Cirit laser-guided rocket systems.

Bayar announced that they are planning to finish firing tests and start the first deliveries to the TAF this year, and complete the delivery of 51 helicopters in the coming years. Bayar also noted that once this platform is added to TAF’s inventory, it will have good marketing prospects. This system will be in demand, Bayar believes, especially in countries that are currently fighting terrorism, given that Turkey developed it with such considerations in mind. Several Middle Eastern countries are believed to be considering ATAK. After successfully passing the flight tests in summer 2011, ATAK has also been invited to submit its bid to a procurement tender in South Korea (Sabah, September 25, 2011).

Another major project is the main battle tank ALTAY, developed in partnership with South Korea’s Rotem (EDM, August 7, 2008). This project seeks to increase the TAF’s firepower in conventional warfare through the procurement of 250 third generation main battle tanks. Currently, ALTAY is in its design phase and the initial deliveries are expected to start from 2013. Bayar noted that this year they plan to develop the first prototype and start the necessary tests.

Turkey also has been working on another ambitious project to bolster its surveillance and intelligence gathering capabilities. In need of actionable intelligence in its fight against the PKK, Turkey has relied on the United States and Israel to either lease or buy UAVs. This cooperation, however, proved difficult to sustain given the tensions encountered in its bilateral relations with Israel and occasionally the US. Turkey has launched an indigenous medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV system program that will initially meet the TAF’s reconnaissance requirements, and later a modified version with combat capability will be developed. The prototypes are going through several tests. Following the maturity tests, Bayar expect the five prototypes to be put into operation and their serial production will start. Ankara sees this project also as a sign of prestige, as it will join the few nations with this technology and eventually develop the potential to export it. Similarly, Bayar expects that the first indigenous satellite developed by Turkey, the Gokturk-2, will be launched into space this year.

Another project has been the development of a national infantry rifle. Turkey is currently conducting tests on a rifle designed and developed domestically, and anticipates moving to the mass production stage this year. The country has also been running a national warship program, MILGEM, to develop a littoral combat capacity. Under the project, the Turkish Navy will be supplied with eight corvettes and four frigates, as well as exploring possibilities for exports. The first corvette has already been delivered, while the second is undergoing tests.

Recently, Ankara announced plans to develop a national fighter jet. Bayar described it as a long term objective, which would mark Turkey’s elevation to a higher class in arms producing countries. Turkey is currently considering this option and will soon initiate two-year long feasibility studies. If the project is deemed feasible, further work will be authorized to develop the first prototype in ten years’ time and serial production in the following decade. Turkey has also announced another ambitious program to develop long-range missiles with a range of up to 2,500 km (www.trt.net.tr, January 13).

Although Turkey remains a major arms importer, through these programs it is now able to procure slightly more than half of its needs from domestic sources. Currently, Turkey is producing short range missiles, armored vehicles and personnel carriers, training aircraft, small UAVs, etc. Especially in advanced weapons systems, Turkey remains dependent on imports, and addressing that deficiency is one of the objectives of the procurement programs. In the future, while seeking to increase the share of domestic contributions, Turkey will also work to bolster its export figures to $1 billion, from last year’s $800 million. Overall, two principles will underpin Turkey’s defense industry policies, as underlined by Bayar: depth, i.e., increasing the national contributions in the new platforms through the development of sub-systems; and sustainability, or, building a viable arms industry that can sustain mass production at competitive prices.

By Saban Kardas

Turkey threatens intervention into Iraq

Relations between the Turkish and Iraqi governments have deteriorated sharply. In a speech to parliament on Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, the head of a Sunni Islam-based religious party, accused his Iraqi counterpart, Nouri al-Maliki, the leader of a Shiite-coalition, of promoting sectarian violence against the Sunni minority in Iraq.

Erdogan warned: “Maliki should know that if you start a conflict in Iraq in the form of sectarian clashes it will be impossible for us to remain silent. Those who stand by with folded arms watching brothers massacre each other are accomplices to murder.”

Erdogan was responding to complaints by Maliki that Turkey has been interfering in Iraqi domestic politics through its support for the largely Sunni-based Iraqiya coalition, which is engaged in a fierce power struggle with the government in Baghdad.

The implications of Erdogan’s statement are unmistakable. They amount to a direct threat that Turkey will support an intervention into Iraq on the same pretext of “defending civilians” used to justify the NATO-led intervention to oust Gaddafi regime in Libya. In the case of Iraq, intervention would be justified with the allegation that Maliki is persecuting the country’s Sunnis.

The Turkish stance toward Maliki is inseparable from the broader US-backed drive to refashion geopolitical relations in the Middle East and, above all, to shatter the regional influence of Iran. US allies such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the other Gulf state monarchies—all dominated by Sunni elites—have lined up with Washington against Shiite-ruled Iran. They are using inflammatory sectarian language to try to galvanise support for a policy that threatens to trigger a regional war.

The Syrian regime, which is a longstanding Iranian ally and based on an Allawite Shiite ruling stratum, has been targeted for “regime change.” The current Iraqi government, while it is the direct creation of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, is also viewed as unacceptable by the regional US allies. The Shiite factions forming the Maliki government have longstanding ties with the Iranian religious establishment. Maliki has refused to support an ongoing US military presence in Iraq or economic sanctions, let alone military aggression, against Syria and Iran.

Iraqiya, which was part of the ruling coalition, campaigned aggressively to weaken the political dominance of the Shiite parties in the lead-up to the withdrawal of US combat troops in December. Sunni leaders accused Maliki of reneging on an agreement to preside over a “national unity” government and pressured him to place the main security ministries under the direction of Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi.

Allawi, a secular Shiite, had been a long-time American collaborator before the US invasion and was installed by the US in 2004 as the “interim” prime minister of Iraq. He sanctioned the military repression of the Sunni population and atrocities such as the destruction of the largely Sunni city of Fallujah. Despite this history, he was adopted by the Sunni elites as their main representative after the effective collapse of the anti-occupation insurgency. His qualifications are his hostility to the Shiite religious parties, his anti-Iranian Arab nationalism and his close connections to Washington.

Attempts to elevate Allawi, with clear support from the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have suffered something of a shipwreck. Maliki and his Shiite-based Da’wa Party, which was repressed by the Sunni-dominated Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, responded with a pre-emptive strike against the challenge to their grip on power.

Hundreds of ex-Baath Party members, particularly former senior military officers, have been rounded up and detained. Allawi alleged this month that more than 1,000 members of his and other parties opposed to Maliki had been arrested in recent months. He claimed they had been subjected to torture to extract false confessions of committing “terrorism.” There has been a growing number of indiscriminate bombings of civilian areas and religious events by suspected Sunni extremists. Last week, 34 men accused of terrorism were executed in a single day.

In the most high-profile case of alleged Sunni “terrorism,” the bodyguards of Iraqiya Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi—one of the country’s highest ranking politicians—were detained and allegedly tortured. They were paraded on national television in late December to accuse the Sunni leader of personally directing a sectarian death squad.

Hashemi has only escaped arrest by taking refuge in the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. He has been charged with crimes that carry a death sentence.

Maliki responded to a walkout of Iraqiya ministers from his cabinet by having their offices locked and stripping them of their political responsibilities. The Iraqi parliament has continued to sit despite a boycott by most Iraqiya members.

Last Friday, the Iraqiya deputy governor of the majority Sunni province of Diyala, who agitated last year for regional autonomy, was seized by secret police operating under Maliki’s command. He has been charged with “terrorist activities.”

The present crisis could rapidly lead to the eruption of civil war and potentially fracture Iraq along sectarian lines, drawing in other regional powers such as Turkey and Iran. The majority of the 300,000-strong Iraqi military are Shiites. While poorly trained and equipped, they have a degree of allegiance to Maliki’s government.

A confrontation is looming between the Maliki government and the autonomous Kurdish region in the north. Last week, a Shiite politician advocated an economic blockade of the Kurdish region unless Vice President Hashemi was handed over for trial. The Kurdish government has its own 200,000-strong armed forces.

Following the 2003 invasion, the US fostered sectarian divisions as a means of undermining the previous Baathist elite and blocking a unified resistance by ordinary working people against the occupation and collapse of living standards. Now the US is encouraging its regional allies to back the Sunni and Kurdish elites against the Maliki government, with reckless indifference for the rapidly escalating violence.

By James Cogan, WSWS

Boeing wins $3.48 bln missile defense contract

Boeing beat out Lockheed Martin to retain its position as the prime contractor for the U.S. long-range missile shield, the Pentagon said on Dec. 30.

The U.S. Defense Department said it was awarding Boeing a $3.48 billion, seven-year contract to develop, test, engineer and manufacture missile defense systems.

A team led by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon had vied with Boeing to expand and maintain the “Ground-based Midcourse Defense” (GMD) hub of layered antimissile protection.
Boeing partnered with Northrop Grumman to retain the work.

“We believe the government conducted a fair and open competition, making the right decision for the future of the program,” Norm Tew, Boeing vice president and program director of GMD, said in a statement.

‘Shield against Iran, North Korea’

The GMD contract’s value to Boeing will have been about $18 billion from January 2001, when it formally became the system’s prime contractor, through the end of this year, Boeing has said.

GMD uses radar and other sensors plus a more than 32,000-kilometer fiber optic communications network to cue interceptors in silos at Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The shield has been shaped initially to guard against ballistic missiles that could be fired by Iran and North Korea. It is the only U.S. defense against long-range missiles that could be tipped with chemical, biological or nuclear warheads.


Turkey awaits key counterterrorism weapons

Turkey's T129 attack helicopter during flight tests.

The Turkish military is slated to acquire several weapons systems to use against terrorists from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) this year, one senior procurement official said last week.
Italy’s AgustaWestland and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) have been collaborating on building the T-129 attack helicopter, a Turkish version of the company’s A129 Mangusta International.

AgustaWestland is scheduled to deliver the first nine of a planned 59 helicopters to the military toward the end of 2012.

Turkish authorities then will assemble the required weapons systems on the platforms, and the nine helicopter gunships are expected to enter service in 2013, the official said.

Separately, the United States is expected to deliver three AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters early this year. The U.S. Congress approved the sale of these three choppers, worth $125 million, toward the end of 2012.

Additionally, TAI, Turkey’s state-owned aerospace powerhouse, is scheduled to deliver to the military three Anka Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles in 2012, to be used for reconnaissance purposes, the official said.

Turkey is already operating nine Israeli-made Heron MALE drones against the PKK. The United States has also deployed another four RQ-1 Predator MALE drones at Turkey’s southern İncirlik airbase to fly over PKK camps in northern Iraq and provide the Turkish military intelligence.

Additionally Turkey has requested to buy four RQ-1 Predator reconnaissance drones and two armed MQ-1 Reapers, but the U.S. has not responded to the request.

In addition to its MALE drone capabilities, the Turkish military operates scores of smaller drones.

Unmanned vehicles

TAI’s efforts to develop and produce the Anka have seen a delay of several years. “Attack helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles are among the most effective weapons against terrorists, and we will have an abundance of these weapons soon,” said one security official.

The PKK this year intensified terrorist attacks against Turkish military and civilian targets, causing a public outrage.

Separately, the U.S. Boeing is expected to deliver the first of a planned four spy planes to the Turkish Air Force in 2012. The program to manufacture the four Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft is worth more than $1.6 billion and is behind schedule a few years.

The Defense Industry Executive Committee, Turkey’s highest procurement agency, is also expected to select a foreign company in Turkey’s $4 billion long range air and missile defense system program. Among the candidates competing to build an air and missile defense system with Turkish partners are U.S. companies Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, with their Patriot Air and Missile Defense System; Russian Rosoboronexport’s S-300; Chinese CPMIEC’s (China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp.) HQ-9; and European Eurosam’s SAMP/T Aster 30.

The Defense Industry Executive Committee’s members include Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, Chief of the Turkish General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and Procurement Chief Murad Bayar.

Finally, the committee would select a national commercial shipyard which will manufacture the third through the eighth of the Milgem national corvettes. The first two corvettes were built at a military shipyard. The first corvette, the TCG Heybeliada, already has entered service in the Navy, and the second, the TCG Büyükada, has been put to sea for tests.


Turkey urges Belgium to investigate fire that killed Turkish woman

Relatives carry coffin of Tuba Küçüksarı Elçi, 25, who was killed in a fire in Belgium, during a funeral in her hometown Kayseri on Dec. 29, 2011. (Photo: Cihan)

Turkey urged Belgium on Thursday to investigate possible wrongdoings by authorities in a fire that killed a Turkish national and severely injured three others, including two children.

The fire took place in a flat in Vilvoorde, near Brussels, on Dec. 25. Tuba Küçüksarı Elçi (26) died after she and her husband, Ramazan Elçi (26), together with their 2-year-old daughter Sıla and 40-day-old son Talha, jumped out of the window to escape from the flames. Ramazan Elçi was severely injured from the fall while the two children reportedly have high chances of survival.

The fire caused outrage among Turkish immigrants living in the area, who said firefighters did not arrive in time to extinguish the flames, leaving the couple with no choice but to jump. Residents said they had called the fire department to report the fire but dispatch officials hung up the phone because none of the callers could speak Flemish.

The fire reportedly began from the floor below when the couple was asleep. A Polish family living in the flat where the fire began was not at home that night.

“We deeply regret the fact that a Turkish national was killed and three others, including two children, were severely injured in the fire,” a statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. It noted that the Turkish embassy and consulate were closely following the case and urged Belgian authorities to shed light on the incident, “particularly with regard to allegations concerning the circumstances behind it,” and on the “reason why the fire began.”


Turkey’s T-129 attack helicopter prototype P6 maiden flight completes successfully

The first Turkish-built prototype of the T129 attack helicopter during flight tests over the Akinci airfield, Ankara.

The first flight, conducted by Turkish Aerospace Industries’ (TAI) test pilots, of the T129 “P6” prototype helicopter has timely and successfully been completed at TAI’s facilities in Akıncı, Ankara, the company said today  

The ATAK Program was initiated with the aim to meet the Attack/Tactical Reconnaissance Helicopter requirements of the Turkish Land Forces Command (TLF) by the integration of high-tech avionics equipment, hardware and software being developed ‘in-house’ by Turkey.  

The first flight of the P6 prototype marks an important milestone in the ATAK Program and is the first of three T129 prototypes which are being assembled in Turkey.

The helicopter is based on the Agusta Westland A129 Mongoose which has been the mainstay of the Italian army and has been operational and battle-proven in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The T-129 ATAK is an enhanced version of the Italian-built A129, and its development is now the responsibility of TAI, with AgustaWestland as the primary partner.

 Prior Crash

The original prototype being built in Italy crashed in March 2010 during a test flight, leaving its Italian test pilot and its test engineer needing hospital treatment for minor injuries.

Turkey originally planned to order 51 A129s with 40 options back in 2007 but the following year Turkey undertook to fully build the platform.

Under the agreement, TAI has integrated an indigenous mission computer, avionics, weapons systems, self-protection suites and the helmet-mounting cuing systems. TUSAS Engine Industries (TEI) is manufacturing the LHTEC CTS800-4N engines under licence. Under the agreement, Turkey has full marketing and intellectual property rights for the T-129 platform. There are also no restrictions imposed on Turkey for the export or transfer of the platform to third countries other than Italy and the UK.

Turkey to raise arms expenses to historic high

By Umit Enginsoy

FNSS secured a $600 million contract with Malaysia this year to sell its 8X8 Pars vehicles, the largest export deal in Turkey’s history.

Turkey will spend close to $5 billion for defense procurement this year, the highest in the country’s history, a senior procurement official said on the weekend.

“Some major spending items have just started or are starting now, including those for the purchase of [around 100] Joint Strike Fighter jet aircraft [JFSs], submarines and utility helicopters,” said the official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity. “As a result, the arms spending is jumping, approaching $5 billion this year. Thank God, the general economic situation of the country is fine.”

In recent years Turkey has spent just over $4 billion a year on defense procurement.

Turkey’s ambitious military modernization program calls for the acquisition of the most sophisticated weaponry for the Land Forces, the Navy and the Air Force. In addition, the procurement office has made local acquisition a priority in meeting the military’s equipment demands.

Two large-scale programs are expected to begin this year; the first is Turkey’s national long-range air- and missile-defense project for which U.S., European, Russian and Chinese companies are vying to be selected as the main contractor. Turkey’s selection for the multi-billion-dollar contract is expected late this year or early next year.

Second, Turkey is preparing to soon select a Landing Platform Dock, which resembles a helicopter carrier and can carry a battalion-sized force of more than 1,000 troops overseas. Three Turkish shipyards and their foreign partners are eyeing the contract, which will be worth between $500 million and $1 billion. Turkey’s decision is expected next summer.

“There’s enough reason to think that the defense procurement budget will continue to increase gradually over the next few years to reach another saturation point,” the procurement official said.

Part of the rise in Turkey’s arms procurement budget is expected to be compensated by a parallel increase in the local defense industry’s export capabilities. The Turkish defense industry this year is expecting to garner between $1 billion and $1.5 billion from exports of defense-related equipment.

The largest sector in the Turkish defense industry’s exports business is armored vehicle makers. Among these companies, FNSS secured a $600 million contract with Malaysia this year to sell its 8X8 Pars vehicles, the largest export deal in Turkey’s history.

Also, under a new measure adopted by Turkey’s defense procurement agency, Ankara is slated to retain at least 70 percent of the money it spends for defense purchases from other countries. For past contracts, this figure was 50 percent.

In a directive released late April, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries said foreign defense companies doing business with Turkey should agree that 70 percent of the contract’s value be returned through local industry content and offsets.

In other words, if a foreign company signs a defense contract worth $100 million with Turkey, it will agree to return $70 million of this money through its payments to its Turkish partners for their local work on the project or through offsets.

In defense industry contracts, an offset is an industrial compensation. It is a commitment provided by the selling country to the purchasing country to buy defense-related products manufactured by the buying country in return for the main sale.

“Financially speaking, I think we’re doing a good job by keeping the larger part of the contract money in the country, and in the meantime, obtaining knowhow,” said the procurement official.