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.
As one of the two most credible contenders for the estimated $4 billion T-Loramids Turkish contract, Eurosam is taking part in the IDEF 2013 exhibition in Istanbul showing on its stand a Launch Module and an Engagement module belonging to the Italian 4th Air Defense Regiment, the Italian unit which is now operational with the consortium Samp/T system.
“We are happy of the strong support to our proposal given byFrance and Italy,” Antonio Perfetti, Eurosam Chairman delcared at the press conference organised on May 8th, “which materialised in the visit to our stand from the Ambassadors of the two countries.” Should Turkey chose the European system, a series of opportunities should arise, that might go well beyond the simple participation of the Turkish industry into the programme. Eurosam does not foresee a simple transfer of technology to Turkey, but looks at the co-development of future upgrades. Full transparency was given to Turkish authorities regarding the three anti-ballistic missile tests conducted until now, both by the consortium and by the current customers of the system.
Turkish companies would eventually provide subsystems to the consortium, and they would become full partners in any other export contract. Eurosam would also transfer simulation capabilities to Turkey, which would allow the nation to fully exploit the system. “The Turkish industry has shown in recent years an extraordinary learning capacity” Perfetti said, “and it possesses a high technical quality.” As for a potential participation of Turkey into the Eurosam consortium the chairman said that the consortium was the result of a MoU between French and Italian governments, and that a solution will have to be found at governmental level.
However a new instrument aimed at protecting intellectual property would be needed. No forecast on a date for the decision was made, “but we are sure that Turkeywill take a decision,” Perfetti said.
The Turkish Land Forces is on the verge of taking delivery of their first T-129 ATAK attack helicopters as the production of the aircraft gathers momentum.
Speaking at the IDEF exhibition in 2013, company representatives stated that the army is expected to take delivery of its first aircraft in the coming weeks.
Four T-129A aircraft are now ready to be formally handed over to the army and will be used to train the initial batch of pilots and maintenance staff. In addition to these first four, three production aircraft are currently undergoing factory acceptance tests.
Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the programme’s prime contractor that is assembling the aircraft, has increased production to one aircraft per month, which will be the ongoing rate through until deliveries of the 59 aircraft are completed in 2018.
Company representatives also revealed that TAI is looking at future upgrades of the aircraft, potentially including the installation of a millimetre wave radar and development of a manned-unmanned teaming capability.
Two prototypes have been manufactured and will be used to investigate the various upgrade options. In total, the programme has now done more than 2500 flight hours.
The initial deliveries will be of the T-129, which is described as a combat support aircraft and includes rockets, guns and integrated electronic warfare suite.
Development continues on the ATAK standard configuration, designated as the T-29B and includes integration of the Cirit and UMTAS missiles. The first T-129B will start qualification tests in mid-2013 – tests of the IR-guided UMTAS are scheduled to take place in July – and full production of the fully capable version is expected to start in 2014.
With the ATAK now the baseline for all future international sales of the A-129, AgustaWestland and TAI have developed a mechanism for the joint marketing of the aircraft and any specific sales drives.
While TAI took the lead for the recent campaign in South Korea, an effort that saw the T-129 lose out to the AH-64E Apache, which company takes the lead role in the future will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Meanwhile, with the Italian MoD currently carrying out preliminary studies to determine the future upgrade of its A-129 fleet, an AgustaWestland spokesman said the company’s approach would be to offer new aircraft rather than developing retrofit options to bring the fleet up to T-129B standard.
Turkey has a vibrant and increasingly capable defence industry that is determined to boost its export earnings up to $2 billion a year, a goal that the Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporters Association says is well within reach.
Broadly based and innovative, its products include aircraft, land vehicles, warships, weapon systems ranging from small arms to guided missiles, C4ISR systems, RF and EO and electronic warfare systems. Other efforts are focused on logistics and support systems and services. A large home market and government policy to build a rounded indigenous industry underpins all of them.
Evolution in the country’s defence procurement has progressed in four distinct stages. Before 1990, the policy for major platforms and weapon systems was essentially one of direct procurement. The next decade focused on coproduction of systems, such as armoured combat vehicles, light transport aircraft, the COUGAR battlefield helicopter, mobile radar systems and High Frequency Single Side Band (HF SSB) radios. The first decade of the 21st Century saw growing confidence manifest itself in local design of big-ticket items such as the ALTAY MBT, the MILGEM National Corvette, the ANKA MALE UAV, and the HURKUS training aircraft.
Under the guidance of the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM), the industry today is also engaged in several other ambitious development programmes including the NEB bunker buster bomb, the TOROS truck based rocket artillery system, the GÖKTÜRK reconnaissance and surveillance satellite, the 105mm air transportable light towed howitzer project, the GPS/INS based HGK guidance kit for 2,000lbs bombs, the KGK wing adapter kit for long range smart bombs, plus smaller yet still vital items, such as thermal batteries for munitions.
Projects under contract to the SSM for the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) has grown over the last decade or so from $5,448 billion to $25,397 billion in 2012, although it peaked at around $27 billion in 2011. The total turnover of the defence and aviation sectors has grown strongly from around $1,855 billion in 2006 to $4,381 billion in 2011.
Growing Local Content
Local content in TAF projects is also growing steadily from 25% in 2003 to 54% in 2011, which is the last year for which the SSM has released figures. Alongside this figure, possibly not coincidentally, defence and aviation exports have grown from $331 million to $1.09 billion over the same period.
Today, co-production dominates the SSM project budget, taking 53%, while development takes 27%. Direct procurements still take a substantial share at 11%, engagement with international consortia taking 8% and R&D one percent. Major co-production projects include several F-16 efforts and the T129 attack helicopter programme, in which Turkish weapons and avionics will be integrated into the AgustaWestland A129 MANGUSTA airframe.
Turkish Land Systems Innovation
Turkey’s armoured vehicle sector is particularly strong, with four companies able to design, develop, produce, test and qualify them. These companies, Otokar, FNSS, BMC, and Nurol, dominate the home military and security vehicle market.
ALTAY and MBT Upgrades
SSM’s biggest development project is the ALTAY MBT. The Turkish government describes ALTAY as a “Generation 3 Plus” MBT. The programme was launched in 2008 with Otokar as prime contractor. The conceptual design was completed and approved by the SSM in September of 2010, giving the green light to the detailed design phase. ALTAY has successfully come through its critical design review and two prototypes have been built, the first having completed its mobility trials and the second now undergoing firepower testing, with two more set to be produced during 2013 for qualification testing. The declared budget for these stages, according to the SSM, is $500 million.
Levent Senel, Head of SSM’s Land Platforms Department, said in February that the tank will be ready for serial production by 2015, but that is not anticipated to begin until 2017 or 2018. Plans call for an initial production run of 250, which may be increased.
ALTAY ticks all the boxes to be a thoroughly modern MBT in the western idiom, its four-person crew dictated by the choice of manual loading for the 120mm L55 smoothbore main gun, which occupies an electrically driven turret. This weapon is one of the vehicle’s technological imports, the know-how having been transferred from Korea’s Hyundai Rotem, although the gun that arms the ROK’s K2 has an autoloader, reducing that MBT’s crew to three. Drawing on Russian practice, however, the gun can be used as a launcher for laser guided missiles.
The new-generation fire control system, with hunter/killer functionality, plus the C3 systems are designed and built by Aselsan. Integrated with it will be a battlefield target identification system.
Supplementing the main armament will be a Remotely Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS) able to mount both 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine guns, in addition to the 7.62mm coaxial machine gun.
The first production ALTAYs will be fitted with a 1,500hp engine from MTU coupled to a transmission from Renk, but later vehicles are slated to receive a 1,800hp diesel designed and manufactured in Turkey. Automotive R&D organization OTAM, which is associated with Istanbul University, is responsible for design studies intended to lead to the first prototype ‘national tank engine’ and is working with other R&D entities and with Turkish engine manufacturers. ALTAY also has that other modern tank essential – an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU).
Better known for its rocket and missile expertise, Roketsan is responsible for ALTAY’s modular composite armour package, which it is developing in its Ballistic Protection Center, the focus of its armour systems infrastructure personnel. The company has expertise in light and heavy composite armour for vehicles, ceramic and hybrid armour, design, development and production facilities for reactive armour and ballistic testing.
A laser warning system, standard on all modern MBTs, will be one contributor to a 360° situational awareness system that will include front and rear thermal and day TV cameras for the driver, who also gets an integrated display.
Helping protect the crew in the event that the tank takes a hit, is a combined fire extinguishing and explosion suppression system, with the life support system combining air conditioning with CBRN protection.
New Wheeled AFVs
As well as new and upgraded MBTs, Otokar also develops wheeled armoured vehicles, a sector in which it competes with both FNSS and Nurol.
Otokar and FNSS go head-to-head in the large 6×6 and 8×8 sectors with their respective and directly comparable ARMA and PARS vehicles, both of which are offered in both configurations and both have combat weights (for the 6×6 versions) between 18 and 18.5 tonnes. Nurol competes with both in the 6×6 sector and has had considerable success in the export market with its EJDER.
Otokar’s ARMA is a multi-purpose wheeled armoured vehicle designed to be flexible enough to be used with a variety of mission equipment and weapon systems. The FNSS PARS 8×8 AFV was shown for the first time in February 2005 during IDEX. As well as meeting the Turkish Land Forces Command (TLFC) requirements for a wheeled APC, the PARS family of wheeled AFV is also being aimed at the export market. In 2010, FNSS has signed an LoI for Malaysia’s 8×8 Armoured Vehicles Programme for 8×8 PARS vehicles to be manufactured locally in Malaysia. The total weight of the Pars vehicle depends on the weapon fit, crew and armour package. The 8×8 model has a typical combat weight of 25 tonnes. According to FNSS, the PARS is a new family of wheeled AFVs that incorporates numerous advanced, unique features. As the vehicle has an open electronics architecture, it is claimed that inserting new technology can be achieved more easily as it becomes available. The baseline 8 × 8 Pars vehicle has a hull consisting of a composite aluminum and steel armour that provides the occupants with protection from 7.62 mm armour-piercing attack through a full 360°. Higher levels of protection are available if required, using an appliqué armour package.
Innovation and R&D
Otokar displayed some of its expanding range of vehicles at February’s IDEX event in Abu Dhabi, where the company’s General Manager Serdar Gorguc emphasised, “R&D is one of our most important assets. Today Otokar is in leading position in designing and producing armoured combat vehicles and in due course making significant investments on the R&D studies. Reinvesting 5% of our turnover on R&D activities is the actual assurance of Otokar commitments in developing new vehicles.“
FNSS’ PARS 6×6 has a mid-mounted 482hp diesel engine driving three axles through an automatic transmission. The first and third axles are steerable. Suspension is independent all round and can use either hydraulic or air shock absorbers.
All PARS variants feature a removable roof to facilitate different equipment fits for role changes. Other features include a hydraulic rear ramp, water jets to clean the wheels and tires of possible CBRN contamination, central tire inflation, an IR suppressing exhaust cooling system, panoramic glass periscopes, a hydraulic trim vane for amphibious operations and a self-recovery winch and an APU.
Turkey’s third 6×6 armoured vehicle is Nurol’s EJDER, which is not operated by Turkey but has entered service in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Libya, Turkmenistan, and Zimbabwe.
Nurol emphasizes EJDER’s IED protection, saying that the vehicle protects its 12 occupants to NATO standards using real mines, crash test dummies and special test equipment. The vehicle can also accept modular add-on armour packages. Nurol also stresses internal ergonomics and space that enable soldiers to carry all the weapons and ammunition they need. All-wheel drive, independent suspension and a high power-to-weight ratio contribute to what the company claims is ‘superior’ off road performance, supplemented by the ability to enter water without needing preparation. EJDER can also be carried in a C-130, says Nurol.
Engineering vehicles FNSS also offers upgrades of the venerable M113 tracked armoured vehicle and is undertaking such a project for Saudi Arabia, as well as heavier specialist systems such as its Armoured Amphibious Assault Bridge (AAAB) and the Armoured Amphibious Combat Earth mover (AACE), a two-crew vehicle based on theM9 ACE.
The AAAB is a major SSM procurement project for 52 vehicles, half of which have been delivered with the other half set to be delivered this year. Offering ballistic protection (including transparent armour) and NBC protection for the crew compartment, each vehicle carries four ramps, removing the need for an additional ramp carrier vehicle.
In ferry mode, AAAB can be configured with two bays, enabling it to carry tracked vehicles with a NATO Military Load Capacity (MLC) rating of 70. It can also be configured with three bays, which allows it to carry wheeled vehicles with an MLC of up to 100. Two AAAB vehicles together can ferry an MBT. By linking 12 vehicles together, the system can create a 153.7 m bridge.
An 8×8 with all-wheel steering, it is also fitted with a crane and an emergency anchoring system and a self-recovery winch.
Otokar’s KAYA is a 10-seat V-hulled 4×4 based on a Mercedes UNIMOG chassis and offers a large internal volume to maximize mission flexibility. KAYA combines high levels of protection from mines and ballistic threats with high mobility and manoeuvrability over rough terrain and in extreme climates, aided by a CTIS and air conditioning. Otokar offers KAYA in APC, C2, reconnaissance, CBRN recce, medevac and maintenance support variants. KAYA is also available as a mine protected cargo carrier based on the UNIMOG 5000 chassis, which can carry 4.5t for a gross vehicle weight of 12.5 tonnes. Its Mercedes OM 924 LA diesel engine produces 218hp at 2,200rpm and 810nm of torque between 1,200 and 1,600rpm and drives through a Tiptronic electro-pneumatic gearbox to locking differentials on both axles, giving the MRAP a top speed that’s limited to 100kph.
Offered for the same set of missions as the KAYA, the larger KALE MRAP will seat up to 13 people and is powered by a 300hp diesel engine with automatic transmission. The suspension is independent and uses helical spring/shock absorber units.
Otokar’s MRAP designs draw on experience gained in the development and fielding of the COBRA multi-purpose light armoured vehicle, which has proved its worth in several conflict zones and is in service with around 20 users in more than 10 countries, according to SSM.
The other Turkish vehicle maker to enter the MRAP arena is BMC, a major supplier of tactical trucks, logistic support and special purpose vehicles to the Turkish Land Forces. The KIPRI is a 16t selectable 4×4 with seating for up to 13 people including the driver, commander, gunner and 10 fully armed soldiers. KIPRI’s 350hp Cummins diesel generates 1,550nm of torque at 1,400rpm through an automatic transmission and a transfer case that enables the driver to choose either two-wheel drive or four wheel drive and either high or low ranges. The axles incorporate planetary reduction gears and feature differential locks front and rear and are suspended on leaf springs and telescopic shocks. At combat weight, KIPRI will climb a 60% gradient and cope with a 30% side slope and offers a range of 800 km. The standard tactical specification includes a cold-start kit, blackout and camouflage lighting, rail transportability and a NATO standard towing hook, along with electrical and pneumatic connections for towing and being towed. Air conditioning with heating and cooling capability and a windscreen defroster are also standard. KIPRI also features a 360° rotating roof hatch that can support a machine gun mount. There is also a long list of options for KIPRI, which includes a self-recovery winch, ABS braking, a CTIS, run-flat tyres, GPS, a rear view camera, automatic fire suppression and a powered turret drive.
Guided weapons development is another key area for Turkey and one of its most ambitious projects is the air launched Stand Off Missile (SOM) under development by the Defence Industries Research and Development Institute (SAGE), itself part of TÜBITAK, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey.
SOM is a 600kg cruise missile with a low-observable airframe and a 230kg warhead conceived for use against heavily defended targets on land and at sea. A typical target set might include SAM sites, parked aircraft, command centres, aircraft hangars and shelters. With a stated range of more than 100nm, it outranges SAM systems and its guidance system incorporates GPS and inertial sensors with radar, terrain referenced navigation, and an imaging IR seeker plus automatic target recognition capability and selectable impact modes. The weapon has been integrated onto the F-16 and future plans call for JSF integration and compatibility with the NATO Universal Armaments Interface (UAI).
TÜBITAK SAGE is working with government owned MKEK and foreign partners on a deep penetration bomb known as NEB, an 870kg weapon with the same general external geometry as a Mk 84 general purpose bomb but containing a shaped-charge precursor warhead that makes a hole in a hardened target through which the main warhead passes before detonating about a second later. Compatible with GBU-10E/B systems, it can use laser guidance kits for these weapons, as well as SAGE’s own new HGK precision guidance kit, which uses GPS, probably combined with an inertial sensor, to provide a claimed accuracy of 6.3 metres. Plans called for NEB design studies to be complete by the first quarter of 2012.
While NEB is a specialised weapon for hardened and buried targets, the KGK is a winged guidance kit designed to transform 500lbs Mk 82 and 1,000lbs Mk 83 general purpose bombs into smart glide bombs. SAGE claims an accuracy of 10m from the GPS/INS guidance system and maximum ranges between 20nm when dropped from 10,000ft and 60nm from 30,000 feet. The impact angle can be set between 10° and 80° to maximize the weapon’s effect on the target. The maximum allowable flight speed is 600 knots.
Turkish National Sonar
In the naval sector, the first two MILGEM national corvettes have been built by the Navy itself and the Turkish government is now reported to be in negotiation with RMK Marine for the construction of the next six vessels, having apparently beaten the rival Dearsan shipyard to the $2.5 billion deal, according to a report on 05 January in the Turkish media.
The 2,300t corvettes have mission systems focused on ASW, and TÜBITAK has developed three key sonar system ‘wet end’ components. The TBT-01 transducer operates as an active/passive sensor over the 6-9kHz frequency range and as a passive sensor between 2-10kHz. The second major acoustic sensor is a ship-integrated sonar with a 288 element cylindrical array. The third system is national transducer cable.
TÜBITAK also built the infrastructure required to develop the technology in the form of the Marmara Research Centre Materials Institute’s Underwater Acoustic Laboratory. Opened officially on 14 March 2008, the UAL received accreditation from Germany’s DAP agency in April 2009. The UAL features a 15x10x7.5m test tank with a very accurate positioning system that can support sensors and arrays weighing up to 3,000kg.
Satellites and MALE UAVs
On 18 December GÖKTÜRK 2, a Turkish designed imaging reconnaissance satellite went into orbit successfully from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in China. The TÜBITAK-funded spacecraft’s declared purpose it both military reconnaissance and civil environmental monitoring.
From its Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of around 700km, the 409kg GÖKTÜRK 2 circles the Earth every 98 minutes approximately and can collect imagery from anywhere in the world, revisiting any site on average once every 2.5 days, according to Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), who designed, integrated and tested the satellite at its own facilities, carrying out bus assembly and integration, payload integration, mass property measurement, system level functional and thermal vacuum testing. The spacecraft’s sensors offer resolutions of 2.5m panchromatic and 5.0m multispectral. GÖKTÜRK 2’s planned operational life is five years.
Launch of the higher resolution GÖKTÜRK 1 spacecraft was scheduled for this year, but is reportedly subject to a delay of around a year as a result of a dispute with Israel, source of some sensor components.
GÖKTÜRK 1 is in development by prime contractor Telespazio following a 2009 contract between SSM and the Italian company. TAI is directly involved in work packages in Italy and France and is manufacturing some components in house.
On 25 January, the TAI-developed ANKA MALE UAS successfully completed its acceptance test campaign. This followed the final flights in the programme that took place between 20 and 22 January.
With a wingspan of 17.3m and a length of 8m, ANKA is powered by a 155hp heavy fuel engine to a service ceiling of 30,000ft with endurance of up to 24 hours. ANKA is intended for day and night, all-weather ISR missions carrying EO/IR cameras with laser designation and range finding capabilities plus SAR/ISAR/GMTI sensors. Growth potential includes SATCOM, SIGINT and communications relay payloads and the ability to send imagery and data to remote video terminals. Of the final two test flights, the first lasted more than 18 hours. TAI says that this flight successfully demonstrated the aircraft’s full endurance and the data link’s 200km range in wind speeds that reached 45 knots. The second and final flight test on 22 January demonstrated the night capability of its automatic take-off and landing system.
The acceptance campaign began in the last quarter of 2012 and encompassed about 130 different ground and flight tests, witnessed by SSM and Turkish Air Force representatives. ANKA first flew in December 2010 since when it has accumulated more than 140 flight hours.
TAI reports that contract negotiations are already underway with SSM for the production of an initial ten ANKA systems for the Air Force.
TAI also rolled out its HURKUS turboprop primary and basic training aircraft in June. The company is also working on the conceptual design of an advanced jet trainer and light fighter under a contract signed with SSM in August of 2011, while TAI’s helicopter group submitted its proposal to SSM for the ‘Indigenous Helicopter’, having been appointed prime contractor for the programme in 2010.
Without doubt, Turkey intends to be a major force in the defence industry and is making the investments needed to make desire into reality.
Turkey’s vehicle manufacturing powerhouse Otokar has unveiled a new 35 ton armored infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) at the IDEF 2013 international defense industry fair.
Appropriately named ‘Tulpar’ after the Turkic mythological horse with wings that protects warriors in battle, the vehicle is operated by a crew of three (driver, gunner and commander) and can transport a squad of nine fully equipped soldiers to the front lines while providing fire support to other units. A front located 810HP diesel engine and automatic transmission allow for a maximum speed of 70km/h and a range of 340 km.
Tulpar is armed with the Mizrak turret assembly featuring a 30mm dual-fed automatic main gun and 7.62mm coaxial secondary gun, all wired to a state-of-the-art fire control system (FCS) provided by Aselsan. All the guns are remotely controlled and can land their shots on target with high precision courtesy of an array of 8 high-tech cameras with night vision/infrared assist, zoom, laser range finder and target designator, also giving Tulpar 360 degree situational awareness day and night, under all weather conditions.
Tulpar’s modular armor allows for different levels of protection depending on configuration, quick swap of any damaged components during maintenance and provides protection against up-to 25mm armor piercing projectiles, a best-in-class in this category of vehicles. Furthermore, an arc shaped, enforced composite structure underneath the hull allows Tulpar to survive mine blasts with up to 10kg of TNT. Tulpar comes equipped with an automatic fire suppression system, an APU and provides full NBC protection to its occupants.
Designed with the needs of 21st century land warfare, Tulpar is fully network-centric. Standard systems include command and control computer, software defined digital radios, satellite communications, FCS and laser threat warning sensors. Otokar is considering the integration of the L-UMTAS long-range antitank missiles as a future upgrade option for the TSK and export customers.
On April 25, rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) announced during a media conference in the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq that they would start to withdraw from Turkey on May 8. There are indications that this process could isolate Iran and possibly end a cease-fire between the PKK’s Iranian offshoot and Iranian forces.
While the media conference was being held, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was holding a two-day drill called “Toward Jerusalem” in the province of West Azerbaijan (April 25-26). Two weeks before, there was a clash in the same province between Kurdish rebels and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in city of Maku, near the Turkish border. The Kurdish news agency Firat claimed that more than 176 Kurds were arrested in large campaigns.
According to Kurdish websites, seven members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard were killed, but this cannot be confirmed by independent sources. It is a sign that the September 2011 cease-fire between Kurdish rebels and Iran is under pressure, although Murat Karayilan, acting commander of the PKK, told the Kurdish TV channel Newroz that a cease-fire in Iran should continue, in an attempt to ease Iranian suspicions.
It is clear that Iran could spoil the peace process. Duran Kalkan, a member of the executive council of the Union of Communities of Kurdistan, an umbrella organization which includes the PKK, told the Turkish newspaper Vatan that there are many indications that Iran is trying to “oppose the process strategically and to sabotage it,” adding, “We have to take precautions against this.”
The Turkish daily Milliyet quoted an Iranian diplomat as saying that Iran would not allow PKK insurgents of Iranian origin to return to their country. Moreover, Milliyet reported that Iran offered the PKK military aid for not withdrawing, although the Iranian Embassy in Ankara denied the claim.
The Syrian crisis in 2011 ended the counter-terrorism cooperation between Iran, Syria and Turkey against the PKK and isolated Turkey in its fight against the PKK, with the PKK-affiliated Democratic Union Party taking over control of large chunks of northern Syria as a result of the Syrian revolution. But the new cease-fire process could change this power balance to the advantage of both Turkey and the PKK.
Shamal Bishir, a soft-spoken insurgent and head of foreign relations of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), spoke to Al-Monitor on the sidelines of the PKK media conference in Kandil. He said that Iran has not yet made any official statements, but the military authorities are not satisfied with this process, and he fears that will lead to more clashes.
“The reason is, that Iran believes that they will be more isolated in the region,” he said, adding that if Turkey solves the Kurdish question, “Iran will be alone in the future in their struggle against the Kurdish movement and their denial policy of the Kurdish question. “
“The Iranian government knows that this process in Turkey is based on the situation the Kurds have reached in Syria, and at the same time, this process in Turkey will have an impact on relations between Kurds and Turks in Syria and the future stance of the Kurds in Syria. Iran knows that the stance against the Assad regime will lead to the recognition of the Kurdish question by Syria, and this will open ways to the fall of the Assad regime, the most important ally of the Iranian government in the region.”
According to Bishir, the process will also lead to a legalization of the Kurdish political arm of the PKK, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organization internationally, and that it could lead the PKK and its affiliates to develop relations with the international community.
“They will be able to establish relations with NATO, the US and EU member states,” he said. “The last statements of EU countries to the Syrian opposition, to buy oil from the Syrian opposition, is one of those signals. The Kurds will come to the economic sphere.”
The Kurdish spokesman thinks the process could also influence relations between the Turkish-speaking minority of Azeris in Iran and the Kurds, saying, “If there is Kurdish and Turkish brotherhood, there could be brotherhood of Azeris and Kurds.”
Each of them had their own governments between 1945 and 1946, until the Iranian government reasserted control over both Azeri and Kurdish areas in Iran.
The Iranian state media has been critical of the process and emphasizes that Kurds do not trust the Turkish government.
The Iranian semi-official Fars News Agency claimed in January that “Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has started implementing a US and Israeli plan to provoke Iran’s Kurdish population against the government in Tehran through the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.”
The conservative Iranian newspaper Jomhuri-ye Eslami published a piece by Ali Rezakaram on April 28, suggesting that Turkey wants to make the Kurdistan region of Iraq its new ally in the region and “create tension in the Iranian Kurdish regions through the Iraqi Kurdistan” and “align the Syrian Kurds with itself against [Syria’s] government.”
Kamil Meresene, PJAK’s foreign-relations officer in Sweden, told Al-Monitor that PJAK believes that this process will affect the Kurds in Iran, Syria, Turkey and Iraq.
“Peace between the Turkish and the Kurdish people will lead to improved relations between Turkey and the Kurds of Western Kurdistan [northern Syria] and the Kurds of Southern Kurdistan [Northern Iraq], which in turn will strengthen PJAK’s struggle in Iran.”
But despite this, PJAK still offers Iran an olive branch. Meresene said, “We have suggested a peaceful solution and dialogue to Iran. If Iran continues with the current cease-fire, ends the repression of political prisoners and of the people and shows readiness to solve the Kurdish issue and the issues of other peoples in Iran as well as the issue of democracy, then Iran will democratize and take part in a future new Middle East.”
But, Meresene warned, “If Iran continues with its oppressive policies, then Iran will not be able to withstand the democratic struggle of the Kurdish people.”
The US joint venture that builds the Javelin anti-tank missile came through town recently to introduce a new senior executive, underscoring American industry’s hot pursuit of a contract for a medium-range weapon for the French Army, sources briefed on the issue said.
The Javelin joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Raytheon presented its new business development manager for France, Ken Alexander, the week of April 15 to officials of the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) procurement office and Army headquarters, two sources said.
The company executives gave an update on the Javelin modernization program in a bid to replace the French Army’s aging MBDA Milan missiles. The visit follows a presentation by the joint venture in June.
That puts Javelin in head-to-head combat with European missile maker MBDA, which hopes to develop and build a new weapon under the planned missile moyenne portée (MMP), medium-range missile program.
“MBDA is still the front-runner,” one source said.
But the Javelin joint venture is still pursuing a French order. Up to now, the requirement has been for 3,000 replacement missiles.
The US side raises questions as to whether there will be money to develop a new weapon and whether MBDA will be able to deliver by mid-2017, when the Milan is taken out of service, the source said.
MBDA confirmed that work started on MMP in 2010, with some funding from the DGA in late 2011 for the assessment phase, a company spokesman said.
“Work is on track for delivery to start in 2017 to avoid any capability gap when the Milan is withdrawn from the French Army,” the spokesman said.
Although a program decision has not been taken due to financial uncertainty, planners see MBDA’s role as a given in the upcoming military budget law, a defense specialist said. That’s partly because MBDA acts as a channel for British-French cooperation, which could one day lead to a common long-range version of the MMP that could replace the US Hellfire on the Tiger attack helicopter, the specialist said. Such cooperation between Britain and France makes a selection of the US-made Javelin seem impossible, the specialist said.
For the Americans, a lack of French defense money is seen as a powerful ally in their push for the Javelin. For MBDA, however, there are hopes the ministerial investment committee will decide on a program launch of MMP in June or July, with July 21 ringed in on some calendars.
MBDA Chief Executive Antoine Bouvier has said MMP is one of the three big decisions this year, along with an anti-ship missile dubbed anti-navire léger, and boosting range on the Aster Block 1 air defense weapon.
A second defense specialist said the defense staff chief sees the MMP as “the priority of priorities,” more so than the anti-ship missile.
Javelin’s Pros and Cons
The Javelin joint venture, meanwhile, points to the US Army’s order for a modernized model to enter service in 2016.
That clears the way for a first delivery to France in 2016 or 2017, and in time for the Milan replacement date.
Under the US Javelin cost reduction initiative, which would cut unit prices by 25 percent, the request is to extend the range beyond the existing requirement of 2.5 kilometers of the current model.
In firings on a US Army test range late last year, the Javelin in-service model hit targets at 4.7 kilometers, with one missile missing the target and going out to 5 kilometers, the second source said. Therefore, the tests show the current model already has the longer range.
The Javelin, however, is designed as a fire-and-forget weapon, while the French Army calls for a man in the loop to limit harm to civilians. The joint venture offers fire-and-forget in Phase I, and adaptation to French needs under a possible MBDA co-development in a later phase.
The US Army is expected to keep the Javelin in its inventory to 2050, which allows the European local partner to sign up for a spiral development if France picked the weapon.
The US is open to co-development, seen as a necessity given budget cuts. The joint venture is also negotiating with the US government for a multiyear contract for the Javelin, intended to lower costs.
Another argument for the Javelin is French interoperability with British and US forces, which both use the weapon and are often deployed alongside in multinational missions, the first source said.
French officials have ruled out the Rafael Spike missile for undisclosed reasons, the source said.
MBDA displayed a model of the MMP at its stand at the special operations forces innovations network seminar, a trade show and conference near Bordeaux, which ran April 9-11.
The European company has signed an export contract for an undisclosed client for its Milan extended response weapon, a company executive said at the show. Milan ER, developed using company money, lost to Javelin in 2009, when the French Army picked the US missile for troops in Afghanistan.
Anti-tank weapons are among the arms key to special operations forces, according to a glossy brochure produced by the French special operations command.
President François Hollande has said the 2014 defense budget will be the same as this year’s, but there is still huge doubt how that figure will be reached, leaving uncertainty over what new programs will be picked.
Hardly a day passes without a Turkish defense company proudly announcing that it has designed, developed and produced a weapon system the country would normally buy off-the-shelf from a foreign supplier. The most recent indigenously developed Turkish weapon is an anti-tank missile, the UMTAS.
Turkish military officials are anxiously awaiting the first serial production and delivery of the UMTAS.
“After years of going from one foreign supplier to another, we are happy to have our companies providing us with national solutions,” a senior Army official said.
Procurement officials said the UMTAS has recently undergone several successful field tests.
“This system can quickly find foreign buyers and mark an impressive transformation [of Turkey] from an import-dependent country into an exporting one,” one procurement official said. “It is relatively low-cost and reliable.”
State-owned missile maker Roketsan initiated the long-range anti-tank UMTAS missile project in efforts, first, to meet local demand from the Turkish Armed Forces, and later to export it, especially to countries in the region.
The UMTAS, with its infrared imaging and laser-seeker options, is an anti-tank missile with a range of 8 kilometers to be used in air-to-ground and ground-to-ground operations.
Roketsan officials said the system is going through further tests for technical properties and compatibility with environmental conditions. Thus far, the system has completed ballistic-missile tests and controlled-missile tests, and its sub-system design has been finished, they said.
The UMTAS is considered the official anti-tank system for the T-129, the helicopter gunship Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is co-producing with Italian-British AgustaWestland in a US $3.2 billion project. It also can be integrated into the Anka, Turkey’s first locally developed unmanned aircraft. Other potential platforms to be outfitted with the UMTAS are armored land vehicles and naval vessels.