Defence Innovations from Turkey

Otokar’s COBRA 2

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.

Policy Evolution

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.

Competing MRAPs

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

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.

Peter Donaldson/Miltech

Syria’s neighbors irked by U.S.-led intervention

Syria’s neighbors, wary of stirring a conflict that could spill back over their borders, would be reluctant partners in a U.S.-led intervention but are ultimately likely to support limited military action if widespread use of chemical weapons is proven.

The White House disclosed U.S. intelligence on Thursday that Syria had likely used chemical weapons, a move President Barack Obama had said could trigger unspecified consequences, widely interpreted to include possible U.S. military action.

Syrian neighbors Jordan and Turkey, their support key in any such intervention, have long been vocal critics of Bashar al-Assad. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, an erstwhile ally of the Syrian President, was among the first to call openly for his overthrow while allowing armed opponents to use Turkish soil.

But their rhetoric has been tempered by the changing circumstances of a war that has dragged on beyond their expectations and grown increasingly sectarian, as well as by the suspicion they will be left bearing the consequences of any action orchestrated by Western powers thousands of miles away.

For Turkey’s leaders, facing elections next year, talk of chemical weapons is an uncomfortable reminder of the wave of anti-U.S. sentiment which followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, justified by intelligence on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that turned out to be erroneous.

Turkey, which shares a 900-km border with Syria, has reacted cautiously to the U.S. disclosure while Jordan, fearful of the growing influence of radical Islamists in the Syrian rebel ranks, has voiced its preference for a political solution.

“The international community, and especially the peoples of the Middle East, have lost confidence in any report which argues that there are weapons of mass destruction or chemical weapons,” said one source close to the Turkish government.

“Right now, no-one wants to believe them. And if Assad uses chemical weapons some day … I still think Turkey’s primary reaction would be asking for more support to the opposition rather than an intervention.”

Turkey’s rhetoric on Syria, at least in public, has toned down markedly over the past six months, even as shelling and gunfire spilled over the border and the influx of refugees to camps on its territory swelled to a quarter of a million.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s push for a foreign-protected “safe zone” inside Syria gained little traction among allies and appears to have quietly slipped from the agenda. Even Erdogan, whose speeches were regularly laced with bellicose anti-Assad rhetoric, mentions the conflict less frequently.

But many analysts believe both the pro-U.S. monarchy in Jordan and Erdogan’s government in Ankara would toe the line should Washington seek their cooperation in military action.

Turkey’s relations with Washington have at times been prickly – notably in 2003 when it failed to allow the deployment of U.S. forces to Turkey to open a northern front in the Iraq war – but strategic cooperation has generally remained strong.

Turkish support and bases proved vital, for example, to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, while Turkey hosts a U.S.-operated NATO radar system to protect against any regional threat from Iran.

“Given the texture of the current government’s relations with the U.S. and given the history of its discourse on Syria, I think it would be not impossible but rather difficult for Mr Erdogan not to oblige U.S. demands,” said Faruk Logoglu, former Turkish ambassador to Washington and vice chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party.

RELUCTANT PARTNERS

Although Obama has warned Syria that using chemical weapons against its own people would cross a “red line”, he has also made clear he is in no rush to intervene on the basis of evidence he said was still preliminary.

Syria denies using chemical weapons in the two-year-old conflict in which more than 70,000 people have been killed.

Mindful of the lessons of the start of the Iraq war, aides have insisted Obama will need all the facts before deciding what steps to take. But acknowledgment of the intelligence assessment appears to have moved the United States closer – at least rhetorically – to some sort of action, military or otherwise.

Turkey and Jordan would be key to any such move, but they may prove reluctant.

From the outset, Turkey has felt slighted.

Before the crisis, Erdogan cultivated a friendship with Assad, personal ties which he tried to use after the start of the uprising in March 2011 to persuade the Syrian leader to embrace reform and open dialogue. He was rebuffed.

When his strategy changed, he began calling for Assad’s removal and allowing the Syrian opposition to organize on Turkish soil. Ankara felt it gained praise from Washington and its allies but little in the way of concrete support.

“Turkey feels lonely in many senses,” the Turkish source said, saying that a military intervention now would leave Turkey and Syria’s other neighbors reeling from the consequences.

“There is always the risk of creating more destruction and creating a failed state in Syria … This thing is happening next door. The flames are reaching us, starting to burn us, where they can’t reach the United States, Qatar, or the UK.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah said last year Assad should step down, but the kingdom is increasingly concerned by the growing strength in Syrian rebel ranks of Islamist fighters who view the monarchy with just as much hostility as they do Assad.

Further fuelling those fears is the presence of fighters from the Nusra Front, which has declared its allegiance to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, among rebels who have taken territory across Syria’s southern province of Deraa, only 120 km (75 miles) from the Jordanian capital Amman.

Officials fear Syria has become a magnet for Islamist fighters who could one day turn their guns on Jordan – as Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi did during the sectarian conflict in neighboring Iraq. Zarqawi was widely believed to have been behind simultaneous attacks on Jordanian tourist hotels which killed dozens of people in November 2005.

SENSE OF URGENCY

Such fears could push the U.S. and its allies to act.

“The fact that the opposition is divided cuts both ways. It makes the logistics and even the politics of an intervention more difficult,” said Sinan Ulgen of the Istanbul-based Center for Economic and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM).

“But at the same time it reinforces the urgency of an intervention: the more the international community does not intervene in Syria, the more likely it is that the radical elements will gain the upper hand in a post-Assad Syria.”

Turkish officials and diplomats have expressed concern about the role Saudi Arabia may be playing in providing weapons which are going to the hands of radical Islamist elements among the Syrian rebel ranks.

U.S. intelligence agencies believes Assad’s forces may have used the nerve agent sarin on a small scale against rebel fighters. The fear is that an increasingly desperate Assad may use such weapons more widely the longer the conflict drags on.

An attack like that on the Iraqi Kurdish city of Halabja – where an estimated 5,000 people died in a poison gas attack ordered by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein 25 years ago, the most notorious use of chemical weapons in the Middle East in recent history – could sway public opinion in the region.

“A major chemical attack would outrage the Arab and Muslim street … It would be difficult just to watch, then everyone would intervene,” said retired Jordanian air force general Mamoun Abu Nowar.

The role Turkey or Jordan would play in any military action will depend on Washington’s strategy, but logistical support for limited missile strikes or possible assistance in enforcing the sort of no-fly zone long advocated by Turkey appear more likely than sending in ground troops.

Turkey is home to NATO’s second-largest army and to the Incirlik Air base, which provided logistical support for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is already hosting hundreds of U.S. soldiers operating part of a NATO Patriot missile system to defend against possible Syrian attack.

Washington meanwhile announced last week it was sending an army headquarters unit – which could theoretically command combat troops – to Jordan, bolstering efforts started last year to plan for contingencies there as Syria’s conflict deepens.

“A surgical strike to get the stocks of chemical weapons … or establishing air superiority through a number of strikes against Syrian air defenses, this is the type of scenario being contemplated in Turkey,” said EDAM’s Ulgen.

“Anything beyond that is much more difficult to see.”

Patriot Deployment Could Derail $4B Missile Deal

ANKARA — A Turkish move to deploy NATO’s Patriot ground-to-air missiles on its southern border with Syria has antagonized regional rivals Iran and Russia. And defense industry sources say it could obviate the need for the country’s $4 billion competition to build its own anti-missile and air defense architecture.

Turkey officially has asked NATO to deploy Raytheon’s Patriot missile launchers and Lockheed Martin’s Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles, saying that neighboring Syria’s civil war threatens its security.

Military officials from Germany and the Netherlands, owners of the NATO systems, are conducting site surveys to determine possible deployment locations. NATO’s top official, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has pledged to finish the deal soon.

The request is creating tension in the region. Turkey’s former ally, Syria, and its allies Iran and Russia condemned the move.

The relationship between Turkey and Syria has gone from bad to worse since the uprising to oust Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, began almost two years ago. Damascus has long accused Ankara of harboring, financing and arming rebels fighting to oust Assad. Russia agrees with Syria and is warning that the surface-to-air missiles could lead to a regional crisis.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said: “Any buildup of weapons creates threats and risks. Any provocation can cause a very serious armed conflict. We would like to avoid it by all means. We are perfectly aware of Turkey’s concern over the security on its border.”

Rasmussen sought to reassure Moscow that Turkey’s decision is purely to protect its own territory.

“The Turkish government stressed that the deployment will be defensive only, and that it will in no way support a no-fly zone or any offensive operation,” he said. “The security of the alliance is indivisible. NATO is fully committed to deterring against any threats and defending Turkey’s territorial integrity.”

Analysts agree.

“Turkey has its own reasons to have the systems on its soil. These reasons are political, security-related and also financial,” said Ceyhun Erguven, an analyst based here. “It is normal that a member country requests logistical assistance from NATO because it feels threatened.”

The move could nullify Turkey’s own program to build long-range anti-missile and air defense systems on its soil, industry sources said.

For the estimated $4 billion contract, the pan-European company Eurosam, maker of the Surface-to-Air Missile Platform/Terrain Aster 30 system, is competing with a Raytheon-Lockheed partnership marketing Patriots; Russia’s Rosoboronexport, marketing the S-300 system; and China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp., offering its HQ-9.

Turkey’s top decision-making body on defense, the Defense Industry Executive Committee, had its most recent meeting in July and said that talks would continue with four key foreign suppliers. The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for late December or early January.

Turkey has no long-range air defense systems. All of the candidate systems, in theory, are capable of hitting an incoming aircraft or missile.

Many Western officials and experts say the Russian and Chinese systems in the Turkish competition are not compatible with NATO systems. The fear is that either country’s potential victory could inadvertently provide it with access to classified NATO information, and as a result, may compromise NATO’s procedures.

Despite this criticism, Turkey so far has resisted dropping the Chinese and Russian options.

Analysts say the deployment of NATO assets on Turkish soil may add to doubts that Turkey needs to independently build an air defense system and spend a huge amount of money.

“The arrival of the Patriot systems, if endorsed by NATO, would already meet Turkey’s requirement of a solid air defense system,” Erguven said. “This may even lead to the cancellation of Turkey’s own contract for a similar system.”

A procurement official familiar with the program said the matter would be thoroughly discussed, with a final decision made at the next meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Committee.

Industry sources say even if Turkey proceeds with its national air defense system contract, procurement officials might feel obliged to shortlist the U.S. and European contenders and drop the Russians and Chinese.

“Turkey and Russia are becoming increasingly hostile as each sides with warring camps in the Syrian crisis,” one senior industry source said. “This minimizes Rosoboronexport’s chances in the contract.

“China also quietly allies with Russia over the Syria war, and its solution for Turkish air defenses is an almost replica of the Russian system. That may oust the Chinese bid from the race, too.”

US firms seek Turkish defense contracts, partners

A mission of US defense and aerospace industry firms, which include Bell, Boeing and Sikorsky, will visit Istanbul and Ankara to seek local partners. The US commerce undersecretary will lead the mission.

A large business mission of U.S.-based defense and aerospace companies, including world giants such as Bell Helicopter, Boeing, General Electric and Sikorsky, will arrive in Turkey on Dec. 3 to seek local contracts and partnerships, according to a written statement by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara. U.S. Commerce Undersecretary Francisco J. Sanchez will lead the trade mission of 19 American firms, the statement said.

“Turkey is a priority market for the U.S. Department of Commerce – and the only one in Europe. More and more American firms are discovering the Turkish market and seeking partners in this growing economy. I look forward to returning to Turkey with leading U.S. defense and aerospace companies to facilitate partnerships with Turkish firms,” Sanchez said.
The trade mission will visit Ankara from Dec. 3 to Dec. 5 before going to Istanbul on Dec. 6 for two days.

“The mission will identify opportunities for U.S.-Turkish business partnerships and offer trade financing to qualified firms. This business development effort is part of ongoing efforts to increase bilateral trade and investment between the United States and Turkey, under the aegis of the Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation,” the statement said.

Turkish sector companies are asked to request face-to-face introductions with U.S. companies on the mission.

U.S. companies won two contracts in the past year and are viewed as front-runners in two others. In April 2011, Sikorsky Aircraft defeated Italy’s AgustaWestland in a competition to lead the co-production of more than 100 T-70 utility helicopters, a Turkish version of the Black Hawk International. In January 2012, Turkey’s top procurement body picked Bell Helicopter Textron for the country’s light police helicopters.

The U.S. is among the strongest bidders for Turkey’s estimated $4 billion Long-Range Air and Missile Defense Systems program.

‘Vibrat’ ties

“Since President [Barack] Obama’s visit to Turkey in 2009, we are adding to our vibrant political and defense relationships through increased bilateral trade and investment,” U.S. Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone noted in the press release.

“In 2011 we set a new record with nearly $20 billion in U.S.-Turkish trade. This year, we saw the first visit of a U.S. secretary of commerce to Turkey in 14 years and the first visit ever by a U.S. trade representative. Despite regional tensions, our trade and investment relationship is stronger than ever, building on Turkey’s economic success. In this way, we are fulfilling President Obama’s call to ‘renew the alliance between our nations and the friendship between our peoples.’”

The mission is organized the U.S. Mission’s Commercial Service in partnership with the Undersecretariat of the Defense Industry, Ankara Industry Chamber, Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB), American Business Forum in Turkey and the Turkish Businessmen’s Association.

Turkey to work on first ICBM

The Turkish Armed Forces have begun working on the nation’s first project to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), broadcaster NTV reported on its website yesterday.

A decision to launch the project was made in a July 17 meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Board, headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan and Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel. Erdoðan had previously requested that the military develop missiles with a 2,500-kilometer range.

The board decided to form a satellite launch center that would have a two-fold effect on Turkey’s aerospace and military endeavors. First, the center will enable Turkey to place its own satellites in orbit, and second, the center will allow the Turkish military to launch missiles that can navigate outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. Attaining an ICBM launch capability is reportedly the chief aim of the satellite launch center.

The Turkish Defense Ministry, the Defense Industry Undersecretariat and the Scientific and Research Council of Turkey (TÜBÝTAK), have been jointly working on the project for some time.

The report said Ankara could cooperate with an undisclosed Eastern European country to develop the satellite launch center.

The ICBM project, meanwhile, has sought to improve on the SOM cruise missile developed by TÜBÝTAK. The SOM cruise missile has a current range of 300 kilometers. The range would first be increased to 1,500 and later to 2,500 kilometers within the project, according to the report.

The report did not elaborate on whether the SOM’s planned 2,500-kilometer range would be increased even further or whether its increased range would be utilized to develop an ICBM separately, as missiles with ranges under 5,500 kilometers are not considered “intercontinental.”

The countries known to currently have ICBMs in their military arsenal are Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China and India.

U.S. Military Intel Spending Falls $2.5B

The U.S. military’s intelligence spending fell $2.5 billion in 2012, continuing its decline as operations in Iraq finished and operations in Afghanistan wind down.

In all, Congress appropriated $21.5 billion for the military intelligence program [MIP], according to the Defense Department. The figure includes funding in the base budget and war spending accounts.

“The department determined that releasing this top line figure does not jeopardize any classified activities within the MIP,” DoD said in an Oct. 30 statement. “No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has not yet released spending figures for civilian intelligence programs. In February 2011, the Obama administration announced it was requesting $55 billion for 2012 civilian intelligence activities, also called the national intelligence program.

The national intelligence program includes the CIA budget and support to national policymakers. The military intelligence program funds battlefield commanders.

Funding for intelligence organizations, such as the National Security Agency, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and others, comes from both the national and military programs.

In 2011, Congress appropriated $78.6 billion for civilian and military intelligence activities. Of that, lawmakers appropriated $54.6 billion for national intelligence programs and $24 billion for military intel programs.

Spending on military intelligence programs was $27 billion in 2010.

Defensenews

Navy, MIT join forces for new intelligence vessel

Turkey’s first large dedicated electronic intelligence ship will be jointly operated by MIT and the Turkish Navy.

Turkey’s navy and national intelligence organization MIT have agreed to jointly procure a high-tech ship for collecting electronic intelligence from newly arising regional threats in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries, or SSM, has been tasked for launching a local tender for the construction of the new ship using Turkey’s indigenous capabilities to their fullest extent.

“Turkey has earmarked $120 million for the construction effort of Turkey’s first large scale intelligence ship.” a TR Defence source familiar with the programs of the Turkish Navy reported on Friday. “This will be a dedicated SIGINT/ELINT ship that will bear a number of advanced electronic capabilities, but will lack heavy weapons.”

Several countries currently use similar electronic intelligence ships for spying on the military transmissions of target states, finding and exploiting secret radar installations, eavesdropping on and decrypting sensitive information as well as actively jamming compromised enemy communications during war time. The ship is said to be used in conjunction with Turkey’s new Gokturk series of surveillance satellites planned for launch in 2013 and 2014.

Project will be managed by SSM and follow the successful footsteps of the Milgem program. Once complete in 2015, the ship will join Turkish Navy inventory but will be partially operated by MIT in line with Turkey’s widely varying intelligence gathering needs.

It is also expected to actively participate in NATO missions and exercises around the world.

 

Turkey hits targets inside Syria after border deaths

Turkish artillery has fired on targets in Syria after shells from across the border killed five Turkish nationals.

A woman and three children were among the dead when the shells, apparently fired by Syrian government forces, hit Turkey’s border town of Akcakale.

Ankara’s response marks the first time it has fired into Syria during the 18-month-long unrest there.

Turkey also asked the UN Security Council to take “necessary action” to stop Syrian “aggression”.

The request was made by Turkish envoy to the UN, Ertugrul Apakan, in a letter to the current president of the 15-member Council, Guatemalan ambassador Gert Rosenthal.

Meanwhile, Nato envoys held an urgent meeting in Brussels at the request of Turkey, who is a member of the military alliance.

The bloc issued a statement saying it “continues to stand by Turkey and demands the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an ally, and urges the Syrian regime to put an end to flagrant violations of international law”.

The Nato ambassadors also expressed appreciation for Turkey’s restraint in its response, the BBC’s defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt reports.

At the same time, the government in Ankara is expected to ask the parliament on Thursday to authorise cross-border military operations in Syria, Turkish media report.

The Turkish armed forces have in the past moved into northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish militants who had bases there.

‘Abominable attack’

Turkey’s territory has been hit by fire from Syria on several occasions since the uprising against Mr Assad began, but Wednesday’s incident was the most serious.

In a statement, the office of Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “Our armed forces in the border region responded immediately to this abominable attack in line with their rules of engagement.”

Targets were struck through artillery fire against places in Syria identified by radar.

“Turkey will never leave unanswered such kinds of provocation by the Syrian regime against our national security,” the statement said.

Syria said it was looking into the origin of the cross-border shelling that hit Akcakale.

Information Minister Omran Zoabi added: “Syria offers its sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to our friends the Turkish people.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu contacted UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the UN’s Syria peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen after the incident.

Mr Ban urged Damascus to respect the territorial sovereignty of its neighbours, saying the cross-border incident “demonstrated how Syria’s conflict is threatening not only the security of the Syrian people but increasingly causing harm to its neighbours”.

Mr Rasmussen told Turkey’s foreign minister that he strongly condemned the incident, a Nato spokeswoman said, and continued to follow developments in the region “closely and with great concern”.

Mr Rasmussen has repeatedly said that Nato has no intention of intervening in Syria but stands ready to defend Turkey if necessary.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “We are outraged that the Syrians have been shooting across their border… and regretful of the loss of life on the Turkish side.”

Akcakale has been fired on several times over the past few weeks.

The BBC’s Jim Muir says Syrian government forces are attempting to cut rebel supply routes by winning back the border crossing at Tall al-Abyad which the rebels seized last month.

Residents have been advised to stay away from the border, and more than 100 schools have been closed in the region because of the violence in neighbouring Syria.

Panic

Turkey’s state-owned Anatolia news agency reported that angry townspeople had marched to the mayor’s office to protest about the deaths on Wednesday.

Town mayor Abdulhakim Ayhan said: “There is anger in our community against Syria,” adding that stray bullets and shells had panicked residents over the past 10 days.

Wednesday’s attack is believed to be only the second time that people have died as a result of violence spilling over the border from Syria into Turkey.

Two Syrian nationals were killed on Turkish soil in April by stray bullets fired from Syria.

In Syria itself, at least 34 people were killed and dozens wounded in a series of bomb explosions in the centre of Syria’s second city, Aleppo, on Wednesday.

The attacks levelled buildings in the city’s main square. A military officers’ club and a hotel being used by the military bore the brunt of the blasts, some of which were carried out by suicide car bombers.

BBC

2016: Turkey’s defense purchases to reach $8 billion

Turkey will buy around 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II aircraft. EPA photo

Turkey will spend up to $8 billion in defense purchases as its exports will reach $2 billion in 2016, four years from now, according to a major estimation by the procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM).

The present figures are around half of that.

The expectations in the SSM’s updated 2012-2016 strategic program are realistic given the money Turkey would pay for expensive systems – such as the F-35s or the U-214 submarines from Germany – over the next few years, as well as the rapid increase in its exports mainly to Islamic countries, according to one defense analyst.

Turkey is in talks with four key foreign suppliers on a $4 billion Long Range Air and Missile Defense Systems project.

The country’s mainly exports armored vehicles of many sorts, rockets and other ammunition, as well as military electronics like radios, to more than 10 Islamic countries. It also sells aviation equipment as part of offset deals.

Fighter jet program delayed

Separately, Turkey has delayed a program to develop a domestic fighter aircraft for the Air Force nearly two years, the strategic document has revealed. “A conceptual design … for the fighter aircraft will be completed by the end of 2014,” the SSM’s program said.

The defense minister at the time, Vecdi Gönül, announced on Dec. 14, 2010, that Turkey would build a fighter aircraft, to be constructed together with a friendly country or fully by itself, by the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic in 2023.

Gönül told reporters after a meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Committee that the SSM would start talks with the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the country’s main aerospace company, for a “conceptual design” of a fighter aircraft and a jet trainer to be built after the year 2020.

At the time, Gönül said the TAI would have two years for the conceptual design. He said Turkey’s newly designed fighter aircraft “would be a next-generation type, replacing the [U.S.-made] F-4Es and functioning well with the F-16 and the F-35 … This is effectively a decision for the making of Turkey’s first fighter aircraft.”

However, the new strategic document calls for the completion of the conceptual design by 2014. “The original timetable must be wrong. It’s impossible to complete the conceptual design of a new aircraft in two years. The estimate is more reasonable now,” said one senior procurement official.

Turkey will buy around 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II aircraft built by a team led by the U.S. firm Lockheed Martin, but Gönül said at the time that they were planning to develop the new fighter with a partner other than the United States.

Turkey previously had South Korea in mind, but one South Korean official in Ankara said South Korea was at a more advanced stage than Turkey, and was currently developing its KF-X model with Indonesia. “We can’t say at this point whether it will be with South Korea or not,” Gönül said.

As Turkey marks 60th anniversary in NATO

Turkish President Abdullah Gul with U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama at NATO's Chicago summit.

By Ismail Duman

Turkey marks 60th anniversary as a member of NATO. As a loyal ally of NATO, Turkey made historic choice of siding with the Western Bloc and since 1952, it has served as a strategic partnership in the Middle East in favor of Western Bloc.

“Protocol regarding Turkey’s membership to NATO was signed on 17 October 1951. Law on the accession of Turkey to the North Atlantic Treaty was endorsed on 18 February 1952 and Turkey became a NATO member together with Greece.”

The aim of the foundation of NATO was to constitute a Western block against the Soviet Russia(USSR) after World War II. Although NATO was not a legitimate organization since its foundation, it completely lost its legitimacy after the collapse of USSR. But because it is an imperialist project, NATO always gets a new form through new strategic concepts. When we look at the activities of NATO, we can easily see that it serves to American hegemony.Unfortunately, Turkey was/is always with NATO and has passed all the loyalty tests of NATO perfectly.

After the Justice and Development Party has come to the power, there were some debates about the Turkish foreign policies. Many Western politicians and diplomats commented Turkey’s ‘zero problem policy’ as an axial dislocation and disengagement from the Western Bloc. But even in those days, Turkey was always loyal to NATO and its policies in the region.

Today, we want to discuss Turkey’s “love” of the NATO in detail. We will try to look at the historical process and Turkey’s function in the region in favor of NATO’s policies. In the end of this discussion, we will question whether Turkey is ‘always’ with Western Bloc or not.

Historical Review…

”It is not possible to understand things that happened by means of ignoring relations between NATO’s strategic concepts and U.S.’s globally hegemonic strategies” says Akif Emre, from the Turkish Yeni Safak Newspaper. We can add to this comment that even every membership process of NATO is not independent of U.S.’s allowance and globally hegemonic policies. In other words, when Turkey chose of siding with Western Bloc, it knew that Turkey will conform with the U.S. policies.

“NATO membership gave Turkey a Westernized identity and provided her with a say on European security. In return, Turkey assumed the defense of the southeastern part of NATO against the soft underbelly of the Soviets,” says Retired Lieutenant General Şadi Erguvenc.

“Turkey joined this alliance in 1952, alongside with its western neighbor Greece; when it was seeking means to strengthen its defense policy. Located at the heart of Eurasia supercontinent, Turkey’s geopolitical value was incontestably substantial. This geopolitical value was doubled with its relative proximity to the USSR, for very evident reasons,” says Gunes Unuvar. “A global attention was drawn to the conflict between the West and the East for over five decades, and NATO members have rarely shifted their attention elsewhere. It was the case for Turkey, as well – the Soviet threat inevitably approximated Turkey and NATO allies, therefore and especially the USA. Given to its geopolitical significance, Turkey was an important regional power which the USA particularly praised. With their foreign priorities and their shared notion of ‘threat’ during the Cold War, it was only normal that Turkey – NATO relationship was a crucial aspect of the very existence of NATO.”

As Sofia Hafdell says, with the break-up of the Soviet Union and the beginning of a new, uncertain world order, new members were incorporated into NATO from the former Eastern bloc, in turn testing Turkey’s strategic importance in its relations with the Western world. The perception of Turkey as a determined ally to NATO persisted, however, through its engagements by the US in the first Gulf War. While the underlying political structures had changed in the post-Cold War era, NATO and Turkey worked together to respond to the range of new risks and challenges resulting from an increasingly changing world order.

“Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, NATO adopted its act of collective defense against external threats under Article 5. Since then, the more diverse security environment led to NATO engagements far beyond the Euro-Atlantic area, and provided new importance to Turkey given its geographical and cultural position in contemporary ‘out of area’ missions” she says. “For example, Turkey’s strategic geography has helped facilitate European involvement in Afghanistan where Turkish troops have been stationed since 2001, holding command of the Kabul–‐based International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) both in 2002 and 2005”

Turkey’s contributions to NATO are put in order by U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs as follows:

“The Republic of Turkey has contributed forces to international missions under the banners of the United Nations and NATO since 1952, including peacekeeping missions in Somalia and the Balkan states of the former Yugoslavia, support to coalition forces in the Operation Desert Storm, and in the global war on terror.

Beginning in December 1995, the U.S. and several of its allies deployed peacekeeping forces to Bosnia for Operation Joint Endeavor. That contingent, known as Task Force Eagle, was comprised of 20,000 American Soldiers and forces from 12 other nations, including Turkey. The task force implemented the Dayton Agreement, the peace treaty that put an end to the three-and-a-half year war in Bosnia.

Soon afterward Turkish forces provided assistance in another Balkan region when they supported the NATO-led peacekeeping force known as the Kosovo Force. Turkey, along with other military forces, entered Kosovo in 1999 to support the NATO mandate to deter hostility, establish and maintain a secure environment, and demilitarize the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Turkey has played a key role in the global war on terror and helped to establish peace and security in Iraq and Afghanistan. Turkish forces have been deployed to Afghanistan since 2001 as part of the U.S. stabilization force and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. Since then Turkey has twice held the leadership of ISAF, has helped train thousands members of the Afghan National Army; has spent nearly $1 million dollars on anti-narcotics efforts; and has operated two fully equipped hospitals, two clinics and two mobile clinics that have treated around 650,000 patients annually.

Turkey provided extensive logistical support to American troops in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, including humanitarian airlift operations, refueling and sustainment operations and other military operations.

Recently European countries throughout NATO have joined with the U.S to begin laying the framework for a NATO-led missile defense shield in Europe. Turkey chose to support the development of the shield and the stationing of an early warning radar system on its soil.”

On the other hand, “we’ve had a long-standing military partnership with the Turkish Land Forces, we’ve trained together, we’ve fought together, and because of that close relationship and those experiences, our U.S. Soldiers are better trained and prepared and I believe, the Turkish Soldiers are as well,” said USAREUR Commander Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling in a USAREUR release about the general’s December visit and discussion with Turkish Land Forces Commander Gen. Hayri Kivrikoglu.

NATO-Turkey Relations after the Cold War

“In the post-Cold War world, the role of NATO and Turkey’s position within it has changed as both parties have had to adapt to new security challenges and keep the Alliance relevant and efficient,” says Menekse Tokyay. “With its active participation in a number of NATO missions, ranging from Afghanistan to Libya and the Balkans, Turkey has demonstrated that it is committed to playing a responsible leadership role within its strategic region and beyond.”

In the document of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the changing concepts of NATO are mentioned as follows:

“In recognition of the need to adapt itself to post Cold war realities, NATO has for some time been undergoing a comprehensive transformation process. The basic elements of this process were reflected in the Strategic Concepts of 1991, 1999 and lastly in the new Strategic Concept of 2010. This is a process of both internal and external adaptation. On one hand, NATO undergoes its forces through a comprehensive modernization process to preserve its collective defense and crisis response capabilities. On the other hand, the Alliance with the perception of ‘security based on cooperation’ reinforces its present political and military partnership mechanisms and also frames new ones to develop its ‘soft power’ capacity. The Partnership for Peace Program, Mediterranean Dialogue, NATO-Russia Council and NATO-Ukraine Commission, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, relations with Contact Countries and comprehensive dialogue and cooperation built with Afghanistan and Pakistan are concrete examples to demonstrate NATO’s determination to this end. Furthermore, NATO’s open door policy and its collaboration with other international organizations such as the UN, OSCE and the EU prevail as important elements on this area.”

On the other hand, according to Assoc. Prof. Selcuk Colakoglu, there are different processes which correspond to different strategic concepts.

“Throughout the 1990s, NATO’s basic mission was to ensure that the countries of Eastern Europe made a rapid transition from communism and that they raised their standards as far as human rights were concerned. Mainly using the instruments of soft power, the goal of helping the countries of Eastern Europe to prepare for membership in the alliance was successfully completed with twelve of these countries becoming members between 1999 and 2009. The same humanitarian considerations led to air operations being successfully carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995 and in Kosovo in 1999, and civil wars in these two countries were stopped” he says. “The terrorist attacks against the U.S. on September 11 caused a radical alteration in NATO’s security concept. The alliance discarded the concept of soft power which it had adopted in the 1990s and returned to its former approach of hard power against international terrorism and radical groups. To this end, NATO launched a military operation against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan on the grounds that it had given shelter to the terrorist organization al-Qaida. Afghanistan was outside the North Atlantic region which until then had been the geographic area for the alliance’s security operations. However, during its period in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2011, despite all its military and civilian casualties, NATO failed to score the sort of success it was hoping for against the Taliban, something which raised questions about the use of land forces and military power.”

Axial Dislocation Debates and Missile Shield Radars…

Up to the ‘axial dislocation’ debates about Turkish foreign policies, it was taken into account as one of the most loyal members of NATO. But, when Turkey’s foreign policy turned its face towards to East, many commentators supposed that Turkey is abandoning Western Bloc and after this day, anything will be like former. But, all these anxieties got lost after Turkey’s acceptance of hosting missile shield radars on its soil in the NATO Summit in Lisbon-2010.

Although Turkish Foreign Minister said that Lisbon Summit was not a loyalty test because there is no any country that tests us like this; actually, his explanations were very optimistic because the U.S. generally has first call on Turkey’s issue. On the other hand, as Mostafa Zein emphasizes, “Turkey has never faced such a test in the past. It is true that it refrained from allowing the United States to invade Iraq from its soil, and sided with Iran in many stances, the latest being voting at the Security Council against sanctions on Iran.

However, this time its options are not many, especially after having crossed a great distance towards establishing itself as a regional power that has its own strategy in the Middle East and in Central Asia, far from the policies of NATO and the United States. Will it then abandon its new Ottomanism to follow Atatürk’s dreams of being European?“

Here, remembering the debates of axial dislocation will be very productive:

“As Turkey’s relations with Israel continue to deteriorate, its foreign policy has come under scrutiny in the West. The diplomatic spat between the two countries led to a trenchant bipartisan letter being sent to the White House criticizing Turkish policy and questioning its commitment to NATO” says Avnish Patel. “In other quarters, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is being accused of expressing a renascent ‘neo-Ottomanism’ as he re-aligns Turkey as a beacon for the Arab and Islamic world in the wake of the Arab Spring. The escalating hostile rhetoric towards Israel is indicative of a leader keen to shore up Islamist support domestically and to a wider regional audience.”

After these comments, Patel focuses on Turkey’s position on different issues in favor of NATO and the West.

“Yet Turkey is still an indispensible member of NATO and is still pragmatically robust against traditional Western enemies in the form of Iran and Syria” he says. “The decision to host the radar, being integral to the EPAA, politically reaffirms Turkey’s commitment to NATO. In the post-Cold War security environment it is a hardnosed security decision, indicating that Turkey is firmly under the Alliance’s security umbrella and forewarning those with hostile intentions towards it. In the talks preceding the declaration at the Lisbon Summit, Turkey campaigned that its regional neighbours (in particular Iran) not be named as a specific potential threat. There was an insistence on proclaiming the defensive nature of the Missile Defence system rather than explicitly antagonizing any single country. Despite these positive intentions linked to the ‘zero problems’ foreign policy as espoused by Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Iranian fears have predictably not been assuaged. Whilst Turkey’s positioning within the EPAA secures its position within NATO, clarification is required on the issue of data-sharing with Israel. Presently the US has remained coy on the subject and further risks inflaming the current impasse between Turkey and Israel. Transparency is required on the US intention to collate data from Turkish, Israeli and other radar sites to create a comprehensive picture of the missile threat.”

“Turkey’s interests and hyper-active foreign policy sometimes result in a divergence from NATO or the stance of individual member states. However, experts note that initial disagreements between the parties end up with the alignment of Turkey’s policies with those of the Alliance,” says Menekse Tokyay. “The NATO-led military intervention in Libya and the anti-missile defense shield are often cited as recent examples.”

On the other hand, as NATO prepares to announce the completion of the first important phase of its ambitious nuclear missile defense system during the alliance’s Chicago summit this month, Turkey’s decision last September to host the early warning radar system for the shield has proved to be a turning point in the government’s relations with the West, said Professor Mustafa Aydın, the rector of Kadir Has University.

His answer to the question “Many believe Turkey’s decision to host the radars for NATO’s nuclear defense shield was a turning point in Turkey’s relations with the alliance and the U.S. Do you share this view?” in his interview, deserves to be thought over it:

“I agreed that it has been a very important turning point, but this decision was not just limited to refreshing mutual confidence. I look at the bigger picture. Turkey’s links to the West were questioned. Recall the discussions on whether Turkey was changing its axis. There was confusion. The [nuclear defense shield] decision is a psychological sign that Turkey, under the ruling Justice and Development Party, has chosen its side. What does Turkey want? It wants to be powerful in its region. It wants to have good relations in its neighborhood. But when it comes to joint decisions about the future of the world, Turkey says ‘We still want to move together with the West and want to cooperate more with the U.S.,’ and this [hosting the radars] is not an isolated decision. Look at the change in rhetoric of the politicians. Take the example of Syria. Turkey and the U.S. have similar policies and similar rhetoric on Syria. It was absolutely the opposite a bit ago. Turkey’s prime minister went to Egypt and told the Egyptians to have a secular constitution. Was his message to Egyptians, to Turks or to the West? We need to ask this question as the amount of oil bought from Iran starts to diminish. All these are messages that say ‘I will act with the West in shaping the world; I want to be an influential country in this region, but I’ll do this without cutting my links to the West’.”

The Arab Spring Process and Turkey’s role in the Middle East…

“Turkey’s increasing regional role makes it a strategic ally to NATO following dramatic changes in many Middle Eastern and North African countries. As these countries still transform, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen sees Turkey’s role in this region as crucial for the new strategic environment and future partnerships not only because of its size and location, but also with respect to its cultural and historical experience with neighboring countries” says Sofia Hafdell. “Further, the Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz believes that Turkey’s economic growth, Muslim identity, democratic values, and links with the West both as an EU-candidate country and military ally serve as criteria by which Turkey can act as a model for many countries in the MENA(Middle East and North Africa) region.”

Moreover, “Commemorative Meeting for the 60th Anniversary of Turkey’s Participation in NATO” in Istanbul Aydin University, it is said that in the context of events in North Africa and the Middle East Turkey, with its expertise and experience, has a special role as to the future in the region. “Turkey can rightfully claim its place as a leader and mentor in democracy, promoting a more peaceful, cooperative and prosperous Mediterranean and Middle East. NATO can and should firmly support Turkey in this role, because the security of NATO and of Turkey depends on the relationships that we forge beyond our borders. Turkey thus shapes security for the Alliance.”

In contrast to these comments, Mostafa Zein criticizes Turkey’s role in the Middle East in favor of NATO.

“Turkey does not get its reputation from the history of its empire, despite the theories of its Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and despite the attempt to renew Ottomanism and return to the country’s roots and to its neighborhood, after the illusion of exile to Europe. Neither does it get its reputation from the history of its army, which ruled it and upheld ‘its secularism and its democracy’ until the Justice and Development Party (AKP – Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) came to power, nor from oppressing Kurds and forbidding them from speaking their language” he says. “Turkey gets its reputation and its power from being the second military force in the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO). In other words, Turkey is the arm of the Europeans and the Americans in the Middle East, not to say the policeman entrusted with guarding Western interests, without being accepted into the European Union because of its ancient and modern Islamic history.”

“Such recent history could not be erased by the leader of the ruling AKP party Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. His stances on Shimon Peres at the Davos forum, as well as his stance on the Gaza war, were only attempts at distinguishing himself from the Europeans and the Americans in order to prove that he had a regional role to play, without this meaning to depart from the interests of both, especially when it comes to issues that have a direct impact on his own domestic situation, such as his stance on the Iraq war.

Based on such a stance, Erdoğan started, from the first day of the events in Syria, behaving on the basis that this was an ‘internal Turkish matter’. He thus went on to exercise his policies on this basis. He hosted conferences for the Syrian opposition and adopted its slogans. Moreover, he contributed to shaping an Arab and international public opinion opposed to the Syrian regime, making use of the presence of those displaced from Jisr Al-Shughur on Turkish soil near the Syrian border.”

Moreover, according to Emine Deniz, Turkey is the key component for sustainable relationships between NATO and the Middle East and North Africa. As a NATO member, Turkey represents a military and economic bridge between the West and MENA. NATO must utilize Turkey’s connections to improve the Alliance’s relations with the region.

“Turkey’s importance is two-fold, political and military” she says. “As soon as the dictators were toppled, the most prominent concern in the Western world was the question of the Muslim Brothers and like groups and their rise to power. The legitimacy of this concern is open to discussion. However, I believe that Turkey’s contribution in the political arena to the region’s countries is not. Both the Prime Minister R. Tayyip Erdogan and the President Abdullah Gul during their visits to the region emphasized the importance of a secular state. The idea of a secular state may seem trivial, but it is not. Coming from leaders of a political party known for their religious faithfulness, advice on a secular state means a lot to the region’s leaders. Democracy cannot be forced upon nations unless they ask for it themselves, and bottom top approaches are important for consolidation of democracy. Role modeling and mentorship become important in that case, and NATO has the best role model to present available in its alliance, Turkey.

The second point is military intervention, namely R2P. Being the second largest military power in NATO, Turkey is an important ally in military interventions conducted by NATO. The country’s importance doubles, even triples, in the region due to the aforementioned relationship. In many Middle East countries, the military is part of the ruling elite of the old regimes.”

Conclusion…

As Sofia Hafdell said, after 60 years of membership in NATO, both Turkey and NATO have vested interests in continued cooperation. Turkey’s role in the alliance remains important due to its strategic geography in reaching beyond the Euro-Atlantic region.

But on the other hand, as Pepe Escobar says, Turkey can be NATOstan. “But Cold War remix it is, and Turkey runs the risk of being just a paw in their game. Profiting from NATO’s new Strategic Concept, the ultimate goal of the US global missile dome – complete with cyber warfare and Prompt Global Strike – is to encircle the heart of Eurasia and isolate, who else, Russia, Iran and China. War is peace. Welcome to the pleasure dome. Welcome to NATOstan.”

In other words, between all these ‘exciting’ scenarios, it is most probably that Turkey will be only pawn in this game rather than being a play maker.

Marking the 60th anniversary of Turkey’s accession to the North Atlantic Alliance, the Secretary General stressed the country’s vital role. “Turkey plays an important role in our operations and we are particularly grateful for your steadfast commitment to our ISAF operation. Turkey has an important voice in our decisions. And Turkey has a vital part to play in shaping our partnerships”, he said.

The Secretary General highlighted Turkey’s crucial leadership role as the Arab Spring unfolds.“Turkey does more than just share our security: you shape it. Your experience and your expertise in the Middle East and North Africa are invaluable. They benefit the whole of NATO.”

On the other hand, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has also said NATO is still the main pillar of Turkey’s vision 60 years after the country’s accession to the organization, while declaring Turkey needs NATO more than it did back then. “Turkey became a member of NATO as a result of a strategic decision it made in the Cold War era, and it has become one of the top contributors of NATO in its regional and global peace efforts in the past 60 years,” Davutoğlu said. “Although a lot has changed in NATO and in Turkey, one thing has not: NATO has remained the main pillar of Turkey’s strategic planning and vision,” he added.

Unfortunately, the statement of Ahmet Davutoğlu is very dangerous for Turkey’s future. In recent years, we are talking about Greater Middle East Project more than ever. In this picture Turkey’s relations with NATO and the U.S. is very crucial.

“During the NATO Chicago Summit in May, the alliance is set to agree on a range of key priorities, including smart defense, stability in North African and Middle Eastern countries, and the missile defense capability, to which Turkey’s position is crucial.” says Sofia Hafdell.

We hope that Turkey reviews its relations with the world’s military mafia-NATO- and produces particular policies in the Middle East independent of NATO and the U.S.

WB