Japanese stealth fighter goes airborne

Japan’s first stealth fighter jet successfully took to the skies on Friday as the country joins a select group of world military powers wielding the radar-dodging technology.

Technological super power Japan, despite strict constitutional constraints on the use of military force imposed after World War II, has one of the world’s most advanced defense forces and the development of the stealth fighter comes as it faces new security challenges in the form of China’s expanding force posture.

The domestically developed X-2 jet took off from Nagoya airport in central Japan on its maiden test flight as dozens of aviation enthusiasts watching the event erupted in applause as it lifted off into the clear morning sky.

Television footage showed the red-and-white aircraft roaring into the air, escorted by two Japanese military fighters that were collecting flight data.

The single-pilot prototype safely landed at Gifu air base, north of Nagoya airport, after a 25-minute flight with “no particular problems,” said an official at the defense ministry’s acquisition agency.

It was an “extremely stable” flight, the pilot was quoted as saying by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the main contractor.

“The control of the aircraft went exactly as in our simulated training sessions,” the pilot added.

The inaugural flight, which followed extensive ground tests, had been postponed due to bad weather and malfunctions of parts used in its escape system.

“The first flight has a very significant meaning that can secure technologies needed for future fighter development,” Defense Minister General Nakatani told reporters.

“We also expect it can be applied to other fields and technological innovation in the entire aviation industry,” Nakatani added.

The X-2, developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and 200 other firms, measures 14.2 meter (47 feet) long and 9.1 meter wide and was built as a successor to F-2 fighter jets developed jointly with the United States.

Its delivery to the defense ministry is expected as early as next month and the acquisition agency “will continue analyzing data and check its stealth technology capability,” the agency official told AFP.

Presently, only the United States, Russia and China have been internationally recognized as having successfully developed and flown manned stealth jets, the agency said.

Japan began the project in 2009 and has reportedly spent about 39.4 billion yen ($332 million) to develop the aircraft.

The country was barred from developing aircraft for a number of years after its defeat in World War II but eventually produced the YS-11, a propeller passenger plane that began flying in the early 1960s.

In another aviation milestone in November last year, Japan’s first domestically produced passenger jet, also developed by Mitsubishi Heavy, made its maiden test flight.

Daily Sabah

Aselsan and Roketsan work on national air defense

National Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz said that works on the HİSAR national air defense system are continuing at full speed. The HİSAR project, expected to be finished by 2020, was initiated after Turkey cancelled a bid with China for a long-range air defense system. Yılmaz said that the decision was made after Turkey changed objectives, focusing instead on the domestic development of a defense system.

The national defense minister said that Turkish defense system producers Aselsan and Roketsan are the prime contractor and subcontractor of the HİSAR project, respectively. The decision to cancel the bid with China came in spite of a decision by the Defense Industry Executive Committee in 2013 to launch negotiations with China for the Long-Range Missile Defense System. Negotiations were officially halted on Nov. 13 last year in lieu of a decision on domestic production for the proposed system.

Yılmaz stressed that the decision was made under the pretext that defense policies must be based on long-term national studies that focus on the principle of deterrence.

Addressing questions raised by the ministers of Parliament regarding Turkey’s national air defense system, Yılmaz also said that many other companies operating in the defense industry play a crucial role in the development and production processes of the subcomponents of respective air defense systems. He added that air defense systems differ according to their ranges, emphasizing that the development processes varies as well, depending on the respective altitudes and ranges. Alongside the project, Aselsan is developing new radar, command and control systems as well as fire control systems, while Roketsan is developing the missile systems of the HİSAR project.

Daily Sabah

Roketsan to Unveil Guided 122mm Rockets

Turkish missile manufacturer Roketsan is preparing to unveil a guided version of its popular TR-122 Sakarya multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), TR Defence sources confirmed on Tuesday.

The new version has the same range, composite rocket engine and warhead options as its unguided twin but also features a new passive laser seeker that allows the artillery rocket to home in on targets designated by a third party from a safe distance.

“We can now hit targets with pinpoint accuracy. All (that is) needed is someone to paint the target so that it knows exactly where to strike,” a Roketsan employee familiar with the program said on condition of anonymity.

Sakarya II can be guided to its target during the terminal stage of its flight by an UAV or another aerial asset, or an infantry element with a mobile target designator.

“It is now capable of engaging both stationary and moving targets… a world-leading technology in its class,” added the employee.

TR Defence has learned that field tests of the new version are underway and results so far have been promising. Roketsan is expected to officially unveil the new product later in the year and offer it for both TSK use and export.

6 PKK terrorists killed in SE Turkey

Six PKK terrorists have been killed on Wednesday after an attack was launched by the group on a gendarme command in the Bitlis province. Four soldiers were also injured during the clashes with the PKK group.

The PKK terrorists initiated an armed attack on Hizan district’s gendarmerie command on Wednesday morning. The soldiers retaliated and a clash between the sides pursued. Four soldiers were injured and six terrorists were killed during the armed conflict.

The wounded soldiers were taken to Tatvan military hospital via helicopter. One of the soldiers, whose condition was critical, was referred to another hospital in the Van province.

Security forces have launched an operation to track the terrorists in the region.

In a separate attack on Wednesday, PKK terrorists commenced fire on a minibus carrying police officers in the eastern province of Iğdır. The incident occurred at around 11 a.m. near the Taşburun village. The police officer named O.Ş. was injured in the attack and was taken to Iğdır State Hospital.

Formed in 1978, the PKK terrorist organization had been fighting the Turkish government for an independent state until the early 2000’s. The group then shifted its goal to autonomy in predominately Kurdish inhabited regions of Turkey.

The PKK announced on July 11 that the cease-fire which was declared via a message from the PKK’s imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan in 2013 has ended.

Daily Sabah

Turkey to acquire heavy lift airplane

Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defence Industries, SSM, is preparing to issue an RfI for the acquisition of a freighter airplane, sources familiar with SSM’s aerospace procurement programs informed TR Defence on Wednesday.

The requirement was said to be for a single airplane at this time.

“[Turkey] needs this aircraft to haul heavy, precious cargo to long distances. For example, when we needed to transport our new reconnaissance satellite [referring to the Gokturk-1] to the TAI (Turkish Aerospace Industries) facilities a few months ago for planned tests and most recently to ship a T-129 [ an attack helicopter] to an international defence exhibition. At the present time, we have to spend a lot of money and rent this service from the international market. The ability to meet this requirement nationally is quickly gaining importance,” stated the report.

Procurement model for the heavy freighter airplane is expected to be a direct purchase with minimal or no domestic industry involvement. RfI is expected to be issued following a long disputed general reelection scheduled for November 1st.

SSM will likely form a new company to be jointly owned with the private sector in order to operate the new aircraft and provide heavy shipping services worldwide while the aircraft is not in use by Turkey.

Nigeria shows interest in T-129 gunship

Nigerian pilots posing in front of a T-129 ATAK at a public display in Turkey.
Nigerian pilots posing in front of a T-129 ATAK at a public display in Turkey.

It couldn’t fare too well against US counterparts in South Korea and the bid in Poland remains iffy, but Turkey’s T-129 attack helicopter can soon find its first export customer in Africa, the old continent.

According to reports coming directly from Nigeria as well as leaks from the IDEF’15. a popular international defense industry fair, Nigeria has shown great interest in Turkey’s T-129 attack helicopters to help its forces fight the rising threat Boko Haram poses in the country’s north.

T-129 is generally considered to be a more “cost-effective” platform when compared to heavier choppers such as the AH-64 Apache as it provides comparable capabilities at a faction of the cost. T-129 can fire Hellfires or Turkey’s own MIZRAK-U antitank missiles, Cirit laser guided rockets and Stinger/Igla anti-aircraft missiles. It features a 20mm automatic three-barrel cannon and an helmet mounted cueing system that allows the pilot to guide the cannon where he’s looking and engage targets.

Nigeria is already a long time customer of Turkish weapon platforms, such as Otokar’s Cobra armored personnel carriers, and has a close political and economic relationship with Turkey.

Turkey was previously alleged by various sources to have shipped light weapons and firearms to Islamist militans in Nigeria, but the allegations were successfully discredited and proven to be untrue.

Aselsan Reveals AKKOR Active Protection System for Armored Vehicles

AKKOR
Interceptor launcher for the AKKOR active protection system.

Turkish military electronics giant Aselsan has unveiled a new active protection system, dubbed AKKOR (short for Aktif Koruma) at the IDEF’15 international defense fair in Istanbul. The system is intended primarily to provide Turkey’s indigenous Altay tanks with a hard-kill self defense capability, but it can also be used aboard AIFVs, APCs and other armored vehicles.

AKKOR features an impressive reaction time of only 1/15th of a second, allowing it to effectively defend the host platform against rockets and missiles fired from a distance as close as 50 meters (164 feet). It consists of three main components: a central processing unit that functions as the brain of the whole system, four M-band radar sensors and, typically, two projectile launchers capable of firing four smart interceptors. Each radar sensor continuously scans a 100-degree arc, creating a full 360 degree detection capability with some overlap. AKKOR’s radar plates, in their current configuration, can detect incoming threats with an elevation of up to 75 degrees, but vehicles can be integrated with an additional sensor on the roof as well for protection against top-attack missiles such as the Javelin.

What sets AKKOR apart from its competition is its smart interceptor. Most other hard-kill active protection systems detect an incoming threat, calculate its trajectory, find out when it will arrive at a certain point in space, and then fire a bunch of projectiles, typically steel balls (like a shotgun pellets), toward that general direction hoping that at least one of the steel balls will hit the threat and destroy it before it can make contact with the host platform. This technique, while simple and efficient, doesn’t protect against the newer generation, variable-velocity rockets and missiles that are designed to trick an active protection system into firing too early or too late, and consequently missing.

AKKOR, on the other hand, goes one step further. First, just like a legacy active protection system, it detects a threat, calculates its trajectory and aims towards a point in its path to intercept it — within a deviation allowance of less than 1 degree. Then, instead of firing a swarm of steel balls like its competition, AKKOR launches a single smart interceptor with its own on-board sensor, jointly developed by TUBITAK SAGE, and a high explosive warhead. Once activated, the interceptor continuously measures the distance between itself and the incoming threat during its short flight, detonates the high explosive warhead when it determines that it’s closest to the threat and effectively destroys it, all within the span of about one to two seconds. This method ensures the highest hit probability and effectiveness against both older and the newest generation anti-tank rockets and missiles.

“We’ve begun AKKOR’s development back in 2008 and successfully demonstrated the core technology behind it in a prototype back in 2010.” an Aselsan engineer explained at IDEF’15. “At the time, AKKOR proved effective against a HAR-55 projectile, also known as the M72 LAW.”

Aselsan aims to finish the development of the AKKOR system in time to field it aboard Turkey’s Altay main battle tanks and other armored vehicles. A lighter version, dubbed AKKOR Lite, and a naval version, AKKOR Naval, are being designed for use aboard lighter vehicles and by the navy respectively.

Aselsan hopes to sign a contract in the second half of 2015 with Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, the SSM, for further field tests. Serial production is expected to start in 2017 so that the system be can made available for the country’s first batch of 250 Altay main battle tanks.

Turkish Vipers Hunt in German Skies

Turkish Air Force has sent five F-16s to attend NATO’s JAWTEX-2014 (Joint Air Warfare Tactical Exercise-2014) drills that take place in northern Germany. Exercises include participants from Austria, France, Finland, The Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland, Norway, Slovenia, Greece and other NATO aerial elements. Over 4,500 soldiers are attending the event that will last until May 23rd.

An official statement by Bundeswehr indicated that a total of 100 aircraft, including helicopters, are participating in the exercise.

Turkey may scrap Chinese missile deal

Turkey, which had provisionally awarded the US$3.4 billion missile defence system contract to China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp, may begin seeking other offers. Photo: Reuters
Turkey, which had provisionally awarded the US$3.4 billion missile defence system contract to China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp, may begin seeking other offers. Photo: Reuters

Chinese military experts blast Ankara, saying the US$3.4 billion defence contract was dropped due to pressure from US and NATO.

A Chinese firm has not met all the conditions set in a tender to build a missile defence system for Turkey, officials in Ankara said on condition of anonymity.

Turkey, which had provisionally awarded the US$3.4 billion contract to a Chinese firm, may begin seeking other offers, the officials noted.

Chinese analysts said Turkey’s reasons for backing out of the deal for China’s FD-2000 missile defence system were “not convincing”. The analysts described Ankara’s move as “predictable” and the “result of pressure” from the US and NATO.

Feng Zhongping , director of European studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the assertion about failing to meet tender conditions was “ridiculous.”

“As a member of the NATO alliance, Turkey should have the common sense to know its defence system doesn’t match [the] Chinese FD-2000 missile system,” said Feng. “I think [the] real reason behind Turkey’s decision to pull out of the deal … is the great pressure from its NATO allies, with Washington paying close attention to Chinese military technology.”

NATO voiced concern when Ankara said in September it had chosen China’s HQ-9, or FD-2000 air-defence system, from China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp over the Patriot system from the US firm Raytheon and rival systems from Russia’s Rosoboronexport and Italian-French consortium Eurosam.

At the time of the tender, officials said China offered the most competitive terms and allowed for co-production in Turkey.

Feng implied that the Russian system was also being pushed out of the tender as a result of geopolitics, in particular NATO’s position towards Russia in Ukraine. Russia’s Rosoboronexport revised its offer, but it remains higher than the others and unlikely to win approval.

Beijing-based military expert Xu Guanyu said it was possible Ankara would choose the US Patriot system by default, as both China and Russia had been effectively sidelined.

“Turkey was using China as a bargaining chip to force the US firm to compromise,” said Xu, noting that the resulting deal might see Raytheon lower its price and adjust its technology.

On April 30, Ankara extended the bidding for two months. Bids from Eurosam and Raytheon were due to expire on April 30, according to the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.

In March, Murad Bayar, a top Turkish defence official, was sacked. Bayar played a key role in negotiations to buy Turkey’s first long-range anti-missile system from the Chinese firm.

South China Morning Post

Turkey to place initial order for two F-35s

Chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a critical Defense Industry Executive Committee (DIEC) meeting today finally wrapped up Turkey’s long-awaited decision to place an order for 5th generation stealth F-35s.that will become the new front line fighter of the Turkish Air Force.

The decision was delayed last year with Turkish authorities citing “uncertainty of costs”. Turkey is expected to eventually order between 100 to 120 F-35s, some of which will replace Turkey’s ageing fleet of F-4 and F-16 aircraft.

Turkey hopes to use the F-35s in unison with its indigenous TF-X fighter planned for maiden flight in 2023, country’s centennial as a modern republic.

Continuing to expand Turkey’s spy satellite network was another significant decision from the meeting. Within the framework of this decision, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) will continue its design efforts for Gokturk-3, Turkey’s first indigenous SAR satellite, as well as other future satellites in the Gokturk series.

Turkey launched its first high-resolution reconnaissance satellite, Gokturk-2, to space from China’s Jiuquan launch facility in 2012. Construction of a second satellite by Italy’s Telespazio with even higher capabilities, Gokturk-1, is scheduled for launch in late 2014.

Being a radar-based observatory, Gokturk-3 will allow the Turkish Air Force to gather images day and night, without being affected by clouds and adverse weather for the first time.

DIEC has also awarded Selah Makine shipyards new contract negotiations for the construction of two logistics support ships,  Ares shipyards to build an undisclosed number of SEAL insertion boats, and MTA to procure two propulsion systems  for the Turkish Navy’s Ada-class (also known as Milgem) corvettes.

A press release by SSM, Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industrues, following the DIEC meeting also revealed that Turkey is continuing to negotiate with China on its strategic T-LORAMIDS high-altitude missile defence system that has stirred a lot of heat with NATO and Turkey’s Western allies over security and compatibility issues..

China’s HQ-9 had previously beat US, European and Russian contenders in the multi-billion dollar T-LORAMIDS program. For the negotiations to be finalized and finally awarded, China must meet Turkish military requirements by the end of June.

Defence analysts expect China to win the lucrative tender with HQ-9s price point, improved capabilities and China’s willingness to share technology with Turkey.