Turkey shoots down Syrian Mig

A pair of Turkish Air Force F-16s intercepted and shot down one of two Syrian Mig-23 type fighter aircraft after the aircraft violated Turkish Airspace, TR Defence sources confirmed on Sunday.

“Our F-16s went up in the air and shot that plane down. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, then from now on, our slap will be hard,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told supporters at a campaign rally in Istanbul.

Syria’s state-controlled news agency SANA reported that the pilot successfully ejected and was quickly rescued.

The two Syrian Mig 23s flying north were spotted by Turkish radar and warned four times before entering Turkish airspace. One of them turned around but the other continued into Turkish airspace.  One of the Turkish F-16s engaged the Syrian Mig just inside the Turkish border with an AMRAAM radar-guided missile. The Syrian aircraft was hit and finally crashed about 1000 yards south of the Turkish-Syrian border.

Erdogan on Sunday congratulated the military for downing a Syrian warplane near its border and warned of a “heavy” response if its airspace was violated.

“I congratulate the chief of general staff, the armed forces and those honourable pilots… I congratulate our air forces,” said the premier.

Turkey toughened its rules of engagement toward Syria after Syria’s shooting down an unarmed Turkish F-4 Phantom over the Mediterranean Sea.  Turkish Air Force shut down a Syrian military transport helicopter last year, also for violating Turkish airspace.

 

US still hopeful over Turkey’s long-range SAM bid

A foreign-supplied Patriot missile launcher is pictured at a Turkish military base in Gaziantep in February 2013. NATO allies have stepped up pressure on Turkey to walk away from a deal to purchase an anti-missile system from China. Other bidders include the US, with the Patriot system, and Eurosam, which builds the Aster 30. (AFP/Getty Images)
A foreign-supplied Patriot missile launcher is pictured at a Turkish military base in Gaziantep in February 2013. NATO allies have stepped up pressure on Turkey to walk away from a deal to purchase an anti-missile system from China. Other bidders include the US, with the Patriot system, and Eurosam, which builds the Aster 30. (AFP/Getty Images)

The Turkish government and the country’s largest defense company are under increasing pressure from Turkey’s NATO allies to rethink a September decision to award a $3.44 billion air defense contract to a Chinese bidder.

Procurement officials have privately admitted that if Turkey finalizes the deal with the Chinese manufacturer, its entire defense cooperation effort with Western counterparts, including defense and non-defense companies, could be jeopardized.

“I think there is growing concern in Ankara over that deal,” one official familiar with the program said. “These concerns will definitely play a role in final decision-making, although they alone cannot be a reason to change course.”

Specifically, officials with Turkish company Aselsan are concerned that its connection to the deal could harm its corporate relations with Western banks.

In September, Turkey selected China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. (CPMIEC) to construct the country’s first long-range air and anti-missile defense system. The Turkish government said it opted for the Chinese solution based mainly on deliberations over price and technology transfer.

The Chinese contender defeated a US partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, offering the Patriot air defense system; Russia’s Rosoboronexport, marketing the S-300; and Italian-French consortium Eurosam, maker of the Aster 30.

Turkish officials said if contract negotiations with CPMIEC fail, talks would be opened with the second-place finisher, Eurosam. Next in line would be the US bidder. The Russian option has been eliminated.

But NATO and US officials have said any Chinese-built system could not be integrated with Turkey’s joint air defense assets with NATO and the United States.

They also have warned that any Turkish company that may act as local subcontractor in the program would face serious US sanctions because CPMIEC is on a US list of companies to be sanctioned under the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

US diplomats have said Turkish companies working on US products or technology could be subject to intense scrutiny, or requested to adopt stringent security measures to erect a wall between US technology-related activities and CPMIEC.

They said the sanctions would be imposed on any company or individual cooperating with the blacklisted companies, especially when the use of US technology is in question.

In December, Aselsan, potentially CPMIEC’s main Turkish partner in the contract, became the first casualty of the US sanctions. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, a US investment bank, pulled out of a joint bid to advise Aselsan on its second listing on Istanbul’s stock exchange, citing Turkey’s contract negotiations with CPMIEC.

Aselsan’s management shrugged it off and said it would select another bank for the task.

But the procurement official said that Aselsan’s concern over corporate repercussions has increased.

“I think they now view the deal potentially punishing for the company,” he said.

One Aselsan official admitted that after Merrill Lynch’s pullout, the company has been in talks for the underwriting with two more international banks, Barclays and Goldman Sachs. Both have echoed the same concerns, pointing to possible US sanctions.

“The press reports over difficulties with these two banks are correct,” one Aselsan official confirmed on condition of anonymity. “Other investment banks do not look promising. We may wait for a better timing for the listing.”

The difficulties over a Chinese air and anti-missile defense architecture for NATO member Turkey also were discussed during French President François Hollande’s recent visit here.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who accompanied Hollande during the Jan. 27 visit, met with Murad Bayar, Turkey’s top defense procurement official.

“Inevitably, the program was discussed at the top level, with the French raising concerns and urging the Turkish government to rethink the deal,” one senior government official said.

Similarly, the same official said, the Americans are voicing their concerns on an almost daily basis through various channels.

He said he could not comment on how the diplomatic offensive is influencing the government’s decision.

The Turkish government has extended an end-of-January deadline for the US and European competitors to rebid for the contract.

The Turkish program consists of radar, launcher and interceptor missiles to counter enemy aircraft and missiles. Turkey has no long-range air defense system.

About half of Turkey’s network-based air defense picture has been paid for by NATO. The country is part of NATO’s Air Defense Ground Environment.

Without NATO’s consent, it will be impossible for Turkey to make the planned Chinese system operable with these assets, some analysts said.

Pakistan denies plans to arm Syrian rebels

syrian-rebelPakistan on Thursday strongly denied it had any plans to send weapons to Syrian rebels, following reports that Saudi Arabia was holding talks with it about arming the opposition.

Pakistani foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam said at a regular briefing that Islamabad did not supply arms to “entities”, meaning rebel groups, and respected Syria’s sovereignty.

“The policy guidelines for the sale of arms that we have are in line with the adherence to the purposes and principles of the UN charter,” she said.

Pakistan recognized the right of all states to protect their security, she said, and wanted an end to the bloodshed in Syria.

She stressed that “regime change from outside by any means is something that Pakistan has persistently and very strongly opposed”.

“We also have what is known as end users’ certificate which ensures that our weapons are not resold or provided to a third country,” she said.

“Our position on Syria has been very clear and has been articulated again and again.”

A Saudi source said Sunday that Riyadh was seeking Pakistani anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets for forces fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

Rebels have long sought anti-aircraft rockets to defend themselves against Syrian warplanes, which regularly bomb rebel-held areas with barrels loaded with TNT and other ordnance.

The United States has opposed arming the rebels with such weapons, fearing they might end up in the hands of extremists.

But Syrian opposition figures say the failure of peace talks in Geneva seems to have led Washington to soften its opposition.

The nearly three-year conflict in Syria has torn the country apart, killing more than 140,000 people including some 50,000 civilians, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Aslam said Pakistan had taken note of the humanitarian situation in Syria and wanted to see the Syrian people getting the supplies they needed.

Russia, a key ally of Syria, on Tuesday warned Saudi Arabia against supplying the rebels with shoulder-launched rocket launchers, saying it would endanger security across the Middle East.

On Wednesday, Syria shipped out a consignment of mustard gas for destruction at sea under a disarmament deal approved by the UN Security Council to dispose of its chemical weapons.

DefenceTalk

UN hopes for Turkish troops for peace in Africa

Ban requested Turkey’s contribution as part of the European Union’s military mission, while, for his part, Erdoğan pledged to keep up assistance for the Central African people. AFP Photo
Ban requested Turkey’s contribution as part of the European Union’s military mission, while, for his part, Erdoğan pledged to keep up assistance for the Central African people. AFP Photo

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in order to encourage Turkey to play an active role in a military mission to help end sectarian unrest in the Central African Republic.

During the conversation which took place late on Feb. 24, Erdoğan stated that Turkey was still in the process of evaluating whether to take such a step, sources from the Prime Ministry told Anadolu Agency.

Ban requested Turkey’s contribution as part of the European Union’s military mission, while, for his part, Erdoğan pledged to keep up assistance for the Central African people.

Last week, Ban Ki-moon appealed to the international community to send an additional 3,000 troops and police to Central African Republic to combat escalating sectarian violence until a likely U.N. peacekeeping force is established.

The EU had already requested Turkey to deploy troops to the Central African Republic as part of a union-wide effort. The demand to send troops was brought to the attention of Turkey in Brussels on Feb. 13 at a meeting under the leadership of French Maj. Gen. Philippe Ponties who has been appointed the commander of the EU military operation in the Central African Republic (EUFOR-CAR).

Asking for compensation from Libya

Also late on Feb. 24, Erdoğan held separate telephone conversations with Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu and Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.

During the conversation with Zeidan, Erdoğan touched upon damages that Turkish companies suffered due to Libya’s deteriorating security and growing internal tensions, the Prime Ministry sources said. In response to Erdoğan who asked for compensation of those damages, Zeidan said they planned to send an official delegation to Turkey in the coming weeks in order to negotiate these issues.

Meanwhile, Eroğlu initiated the conversation during which he informed Erdoğan about the state of affairs regarding ongoing peace talks with Greek Cypriots on the divided island.

Azerbaijan to manufacture Turkish rockets

Azerbaijan and Turkey to sign final document on joint missile production in the near future.

The range capability of ROKETSAN-produced 107 mm caliber missiles is more than 11 km and 122 mm caliber missiles more than 40 km (twice higher than the former Soviet - Russian equivalents).
The range capability of ROKETSAN-produced 107 mm caliber missiles is more than 11 km and 122 mm caliber missiles more than 40 km (twice higher than the former Soviet – Russian equivalents).

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense Industry and ROKETSAN company of Turkey will sign a final document on the joint production of missiles at an Azerbaijani facility, Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) told Azerbaijan’s APA.

Technical issues on joint production have already been solved. Necessary measures are being taken to start the production.

SSM has not revealed when the final document will be signed.

According to the agreement, 107 and 122 mm caliber missiles will be manufactured at the Azerbaijani facility with the participation of ROKETSAN. The engines for these missiles will be produced by ROKETSAN, other parts in Azerbaijan.

Relevant discussions have been held since 2008. The range capability of ROKETSAN-produced 107 mm caliber missiles is more than 11 km and 122 mm caliber missiles more than 40 km (twice higher than the former Soviet – Russian equivalents).

APA

Anka May Lose Its Engine

anka-engineChinese Avic’s acquisition of German Thielert, leaves the first Turkishmade drone, the Anka, without an engine. Turkish officials are worried that buying of Thielert, engines supplier of Anka, may delay the project.

It looked entirely like any other business takeover between the Chinese and Germans with no relevance to Turkey. But the news that a Chinese group had acquired the troubled German maker of aircraft engines means Turkey must now find a new engine supplier for its first indigenous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the Anka.

Turkish officials and the Anka team are now worried that Chinese group Avic International’s acquisition of Thielert, a bankrupt German maker of diesel engines for aircraft may further delay the Anka which would otherwise have been powered by Thielert’s Centurion engine.

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) which develops the Anka had ordered the Centurion for a batch of 10 aircraft. Now TAI must look elsewhere to find a new engine to power the Anka.

The ANKA is a medium-altitude long-endurance MALE-category drone. Such UAVs usually operate for 24 hours at an altitude of 10,000 feet.

ANKA, meaning Phoenix in English, is the first MALE-type UAV to be produced by TAI. One of the prototypes crashed during a test flight in September but several other flight tests have been carried out successfully.

ANKA+, another version of the ANKA, calls for an armed vehicle, using a rocket attached to its body and sensors.

An engine maybe developed to replace

“An immediate replacement could be a difficult task,” a TAI official said. “We may, though, ask TEI (TAI’s sister company that manufactures engine parts) to develop an engine for the Anka.” Both TAI and TEI (Turkish Engine Industries) are owned by a military support fund.

The engine problem occurred at a time when defense procurement authorities are preparing to sign a contract for the acquisition of 10 ANKAs. Separately, the Turkish police force is also preparing to place an order for the Anka.

Before the engine snag, another problem had delayed the Anka program. A locally-developed electro optical sensor, by military electronics firm Aselsan, did not fit Anka’s specifications and TAI was mulling to opt for a foreign pod.

Avic said in August that it was merging Thielert into its Continental Motors division and was giving up military business. Deliveries had stopped, the state-run Chinese company announced.

Thielert was supplying engines for aircraft including a U.S. Army version of the General Atomics Predator. General Atomics has acquired the engine data package and intends to continue production and support.

Satellite-controled version of ANKA 

The ANKA had successfully passed acceptance tests late in January. The final, decisive tests on Jan. 20-21 involved a full endurance, 18-hour flight, successful auto landing, data link performance at a distance of 200 km (approx. 120 miles) under winds up to 45 knots, and night take-offs and landings. The ANKA has so far did more than 150 flight hours. There is a possibility that TAI could develop a satellite-controlled version of the ANKA, company officials say.

A defense industry expert said that finding a new engine supplier may not resolve the entire problem. “Any new engine will have to be fitted into the Anka which was designed for the Thielert engine. This will require new (engine) integration work. New tests should also be done,” he said.

HDN

Raytheon’s Mike Boots Explains Turkey’s Patriot Balance

A Dutch soldier standing by a Patriot anti-missile battery at the Diyarbakir military airport in southeastern Turkey. (AFP)
A Dutch soldier standing by a Patriot anti-missile battery at the Diyarbakir military airport in southeastern Turkey. (AFP)

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 to Sync Air & Space Power

Turkey aims to maximize its aerial firepower through several simultaneous programs, mostly indigenous, that better synchronize air and space assets.

The most ambitious program is locally designing, developing and building, with foreign technical support, the country’s first “national” fighter jet, dubbed the F-X.

Turkey’s procurement authorities recently decided to employ Sweden’s Saab, maker of the JAS 39 Gripen, to help shape their plans to manufacture the F-X. Turkish engineers, with help from Saab, have drafted three models that will be presented to top management at the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) procurement agency and the air force in September.

According to a draft plan, Turkey aims for its national fighter jet to make its maiden flight in 2023, the Turkish Republic’s centennial. Production will commence in 2021 and deliveries to the Air Force are planned between 2025 and 2035.

Turkey, whose fighter fleet is composed of U.S.-made aircraft, plans to buy the F-35 joint strike fighter.

“The F-35 will be the principal air power asset, with the Turkish fighter complementing it,” one procurement official said.

In January, SSM announced that it put off plans to order an initial two F-35s, citing rising costs and technological failures, although it said it still intends to buy 100 more in the long run. Turkey is one of nine countries that are part of the U.S.-led F-35 consortium.

Turkey’s plans heavily rely on several unmanned aerial vehicle variants that Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has been striving to develop. TAI will soon finalize a contract with SSM for the sale of 10 locally made Anka drone systems. The last of these passed acceptance tests in January, including a full endurance, 18-hour flight, successful automatic landing and data link performance at a distance of 200 kilometers.

Anka is the first medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle to be produced by TAI.

A more ambitious program involves development of an unmanned combat aerial vehicle, which would have longer range and function as a strategic bomber. TAI officials declined to provide details, citing confidentiality.

A Turkish air force official said these aircraft programs would be synchronized with numerous planned satellite programs.

“We aim to achieve an excellent interoperability between our aerial and space assets,” the official said.

One highly ambitious program aims to build a missile with a maximum range of 2,500 kilometers. In 2011, the Turkish government announced plans to develop that missile, not revealing whether it would be ballistic or cruise.

Although little information about the program has been released, a Turkish Cabinet minister in January confirmed that Turkey can produce a missile with a range of 800 kilometers.

State scientific institute Tubitak-Sage has been awarded the development contract and said it intends to test a prototype in the next two years. But while Turkish officials have indicated a desire for an independent capability to launch satellites, the military aspects of the missile program have not been released.

Earlier this year, the Air Force devised a national roadmap that will eventually lead to the launching of Turkish space command within its structure, a move that may be a boon for space-related procurement in the country. The space command will become fully operational by 2023.

As a first step, the air force is founding a space group command, or a de facto “aerospace force” unit that will comprise reconnaissance, early warning, electronic support, satellite command and satellite launching center departments.

Air force officials said the work and procurement under the roadmap would enable the service to perform reconnaissance and observation through imagery intelligence regardless of weather and geographical conditions; build a communications system for secure command and control; provide early detection of ballistic missile threats; and conduct electronic support for operational and warfare purposes.

The system will enable the air force to monitor Turkish and non-Turkish satellite activity and upgrade Turkish satellite programs.

Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said Jan. 3 that the government would start negotiations with state-run missile maker Roketsan for the early design phase of a new launch system “to ensure that military and civilian satellites can be sent into space.”

Also in January, Turkey’s top decision-maker in procurement, the Defense Industry Executive Committee, approved starting talks with TAI for domestic development of a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) spacecraft dubbed Gokturk-3, with support from defense electronics manufacturer Aselsan and Tubitak.

With a space segment composed of a single satellite equipped with a SAR payload, a fixed main ground terminal and mobile backup station, Gokturk-3 will provide high-resolution radar images from anywhere in the world in day/night, all-weather conditions, according to Defense Ministry requirements.

The Turkish military’s space-based assets are geared more toward intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

Placed in orbit late in December was Gokturk-2, an Earth observation satellite designed and built by Tubitak’s space technologies research unit, Tubitak-Uzay, in cooperation with TAI.

Gokturk-2, launched Dec. 18 from China, encompasses 80 percent indigenously developed technology and 100 percent domestically developed software. It provides day imagery of 2.5 meters’ resolution. It is Turkey’s second national satellite.

The intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data gathered by national assets, including Gokturk-2 and an unknown number of operational and planned unmanned aerial vehicles, will be integrated into Turkey’s command and control network.

Turkey plans to launch the next satellite in the series, Gokturk-1, in the next few years. Gokturk-1, under construction through a deal with Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space, is a larger and more powerful optical imaging spacecraft capable of sub-meter resolution. Under the government roadmap, Turkey plans to send 16 satellites into orbit by 2020.

A space industry expert based here said the next five years’ satellite contracts could amount to $2 billion.

SpaceNews

MIT begins probe into ‘foreign links’ of Gezi Park protests

Turkey’s intelligence service has launched a comprehensive investigation to uncover foreign links in the three-week-long Gezi Park protests, upon the government’s instruction.
“Different units of MİT [National Intelligence Service] are working on different aspects of this movement. The outcome of this work will be submitted to the government,” a senior security official said.

Although the protests erupted following a harsh police intervention against a handful environment activists protecting the trees in Gezi Park, at the heart of Istanbul’s Taksim Square, the government believes the mass uprising was a plot against Turkey, in which some foreign powers and international financial institutions played a crucial role. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other top government official have also said they have evidence of this.

MİT’s different units have started to work to find international links to the plot, officials confirmed. “Any incident like this, with this magnitude, is of course under investigation. Our organization is working on this,” they said.

‘Natural for intelligence’

The incident has many dimensions, including security and keeping public order, officials said, adding, “It’s only natural for MİT to come up with its own findings. They would surely be shared with the government.”

A pro-government newspaper, Yeni Şafak, reported a scenario focusing on a possible revolt in Istanbul being discussed at a meeting held at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in February. Government officials have credited such scenarios, adding that the purpose was to slow down the economic and political rise of Turkey. They have also claimed that international media played a part in this plot by agitating the protests through one-sided broadcasting and publications.

The Foreign Ministry has also started research on how these incidents have been conveyed in other countries. “I demanded a report detailing which efforts these countries took to create a perception against Turkey, which instruments were used in this process, what our embassies did and what were our citizens’ reactions,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said.

The initial findings of the probes conducted by MİT, the Foreign Ministry and other state institutions will be discussed at large at the National Security Council (MGK) meeting slated for June 25. Interior Minister Muammer Güler is expected to brief the council on the protests.

HDN

US scraps tons of gear as it leaves Afghanistan

The US military has destroyed more than 77,000 metric tons of military equipment — including mine-resistant troop transport  vehicles — as it prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan in late 2014, the  Washington Post reported Thursday.

More than $7 billion worth of military equipment is no longer needed, or  would be too expensive to ship back to the United States, and much of it is  being shredded and sold locally as scrap metal, the Post reported, citing US  military officials.

Donating the gear to the Afghan government is difficult because of  complicated bureaucratic rules, plus US officials do not believe the Afghans  could maintain the gear.

Plus, it would also be too expensive to sell or donate the gear to allied  nations because of the cost of getting the equipment out of Afghanistan.

Items being shredded by contract workers from Nepal and other countries for  sale as scrap metal include mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles, the Post  said.

More than 24,000 MRAPs were built for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan starting  in 2007 in a crash program that cost some $45 billion, according to Pentagon  figures.

The MRAPs’ V-shaped hulls help deflect the force of explosions, and the  vehicle’s higher chassis keeps troops further from the main force of the blast  from improvised explosive devices.

US commanders believe the MRAPs helped save thousands of soldiers’ lives, and  cite figures that show the number of casualties from IEDs dropped more than 80  percent after the vehicles were introduced.

Some 2,000 of the 11,000 MRAPs in Afghanistan have been labeled “excess,” the  Post reported.

“We’re making history doing what we’re doing here,” Major General Kurt Stein,  who is overseeing the Afghanistan drawdown, told the newspaper. “This is the  largest retrograde mission in history.”

When the US military withdrew from Iraq it drove much of its gear across the  border into Kuwait, sent it back home on ships, or donated it to the Iraqi army, which has  the infrastructure to maintain vehicles with complicated mechanics.

US officials however told the Post they do not believe the Afghan army could  maintain such vehicles or other sophisticated equipment.

DefenceTalk