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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turkey likely to order F-35s next year

Workers can be seen on the moving line and forward fuselage assembly areas for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Lockheed Martin Corp's factory located in Fort Worth, Texas in this October 13, 2011 handout photo provided by Lockheed Martin.
Workers can be seen on the moving line and forward fuselage assembly areas for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Lockheed Martin Corp’s factory located in Fort Worth, Texas in this October 13, 2011 handout photo provided by Lockheed Martin.

Turkey is likely to start ordering F-35 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) from 2015 onwards and it will start with two orders initially, Turkey’s undersecretary for state-run defense industries Murad Bayar said on Thursday.

“We will start F-35 orders either this year or the next. Right now, it is likely to be next year,” Bayar told reporters. “We will initially order two. The delivery time will be, depending on the orders, probably in 2017-2018.”

Turkey had already announced it plans to buy 100 F-35 jets for $16 billion. Bayar said he expected the deliveries of 100 aircraft to be completed within 10 years.

The F-35, considered to be the world’s most expensive weapons program at $396 billion so far, was designed to be the next-generation fighter jet for the U.S. forces.

It is being built by the United States, Britain and seven other co-development partners – Italy, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.

Separately, Bayar said Turkey was aiming to achieve results in April on its talks with China over the purchase of long-range missile defense systems, a move highly criticized by Turkey’s NATO allies.

In September Turkey chose China’s FD-2000 missile-defense system over rival offers from Franco-Italian Eurosam SAMP/T and U.S.-listed Raytheon Co (RTN.N). It said China offered the most competitive terms and would allow co-production in Turkey.

U.S. and NATO officials have raised concerns with Turkish officials about the decision to buy the system from CPMIEC, a company hit by U.S. sanctions for sales of items to either Iran, Syria or North Korea that are banned under U.S. laws to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

“Our talks with China are ongoing. We have extended the bidding until the end of April. We are aiming to get results in early April on this,” Bayar said.

AIRBUS DELIVERIES

Bayar also said Turkey will seek compensation over the late delivery of the A400 military transport plane after Airbus (AIR.PA) failed to meet some of its contractual obligations.

“My message to Airbus is that it should first focus on fulfilling the terms of the contract. There is no additional bargaining here. The contract, even with the amended version, requires the fulfillment of certain technical qualities and we have had to hold these talks because these requirements were not completely fulfilled,” Bayar said.

On Wednesday, Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said bargaining was behind the delay and that it was ‘unbearable’ that the company was still negotiating with Turkey over the plane.

“The aircraft is ready to go. It is instantly, operationally fit for flight. I find the situation increasingly unacceptable,” Enders told reporters.

Bayar said he still expected the aircraft, which was supposed to have been delivered to Turkey at the end of last year, to arrive in March but Turkey was going to ask for compensation.

“Of course there has been a delay in the delivery schedule and there will be compensation because of this. This will be the financial dimension,” Bayar said.

Meanwhile, Bayar said Japan had told Turkey that it will not allow the export of a Japanese tank engine to third parties without its permission.

His comments came after Japanese media reported that a deal between Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe was struck in May, during Abe’s visit to Turkey, on the supply of engines, but that Turkey’s desire to export to third parties was likely to block the deal.

Bayar said that the potential purchase of the engine for Turkey’s Altay tank was dropped for now.

“We have agreed with Japanese authorities to leave this topic off the agenda and focus on other areas of cooperation.”

His comments appeared to close the door on a potential deal for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T) to supply engines for the Altay tank being developed by Turkey’s Otokar (OTKAR.IS).

Reuters

Russia issues ultimatum to Ukraine: Surrender

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has told Ukrainian forces in Crimea to surrender by 5 a.m. on Tuesday or face a military assault, Interfax news agency quoted a source in the Ukrainian Defence Ministry as saying.

The ultimatum, Interfax said, was issued by Alexander Vitko, the fleet’s commander.

The ministry did not immediately confirm the report and there was no immediate comment by the Black Sea Fleet, which has a base in Crimea, where Russian forces are in control.

“If they do not surrender before 5 a.m. tomorrow, a real assault will be started against units and divisions of the armed forces across Crimea,” the agency quoted the ministry source as  saying.

Troops take Crimea terminal 

Pro-Russian troops controlled a ferry terminal on the easternmost tip of Ukraine’s Crimea region close to Russia on March 3, intensifying fears that Moscow will send even more troops into the strategic Black Sea region in its tense dispute with its neighbor.

The seizure of the terminal in the Ukrainian city of Kerch about 20 kilometers by boat to Russia, comes as the U.S. and European governments try to figure out ways to halt and reverse the Russian incursion.

Early on March 3, soldiers were operating the terminal, which serves as a common departure point for many Russian-bound ships. The men refused to identify themselves, but they reportedly spoke Russian and the vehicles transporting them had Russian license plates.

Russia has taken effective control of the Crimean peninsula without firing a shot. Now, the fears in the Ukrainian capital and beyond are that that Russia might seek to expand its control by seizing other parts of eastern Ukraine. Senior Obama administration officials said the U.S. now believes that Russia has complete operational control of Crimea, a pro-Russian area of the country, and has more than 6,000 troops in the region.

Tension between Ukraine and Moscow rose sharply after Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was pushed out by a protest movement among people who wanted closer ties with the European Union. Yanukovych fled to Russia after more than 80 demonstrators were killed near Kiev’s central square. Since then, troops that Ukraine says are Russian soldiers have moved into Crimea, patrolling airport, smashing equipment at an airbase and besieging Ukrainian military installations.

Outrage over Russia’s military moves mounted in world capitals, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calling on President Vladimir Putin to pull back from “an incredible act of aggression.” Kerry is to travel to Ukraine on March 4.

Britain’s Hague meets with Yatsenyuk

Meanwhile, Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague met with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and laid a bouquet of flowers on Kiev’s Independence Square where the slain demonstrators are being commemorated. Hague said it was urgent to get Russia and Ukraine “in direct communication with each other.”

Hague said on the BBC that Moscow would face “significant costs” for taking control of Crimea.

“If Russia continues on this course we have to be clear this is not an acceptable way to conduct international relations. That is something that Russia has to recognize … There will certainly be significant costs,” Hague said. “There are things that we can do about it and must do about it.”

He suggested economic sanctions were possible. “The world cannot just allow this to happen,” he said.

Putin has defied calls from the West to pull back his troops, insisting that Russia has a right to protect its interests and those of Russian-speakers in Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine.

While much of western Ukraine wants closer ties with the 28-nation European Union, its eastern and southern regions like Crimea look to Russia for support.

Faced with the Russian threat, Ukraine’s new government has moved to consolidate its authority, naming new regional governors in the pro-Russia east, enlisting the support of the country’s wealthy businessmen and dismissing the head of the country’s navy after he declared allegiance to the pro-Russian government in Crimea.

Emergency meeting in Brussels

NATO held an emergency meeting in Brussels and the U.S., France and Britain debated the possibility of boycotting the next Group of Eight economic summit, to be held in June in Sochi, the host of Russia’s successful Winter Olympics.

On March 3 evening, the White House issued a joint statement on behalf of the Group of Seven saying they are suspending participation in the planning for the upcoming summit because Russia’s advances in the Ukraine violate the “principles and values” on which the G-7 and G-8 operate.

Russia has long wanted to reclaim the lush Crimean Peninsula, part of its territory until 1954. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet pays Ukraine millions annually to be stationed at the Crimean port of Sevastopol and nearly 60 percent of Crimea’s residents identify themselves as Russian.

HDN

Turkey weighs NATO access to Black Sea

Reports are surfacing at several sources that China may have been able to convince Turkey not to grant permission for NATO ships to pass through the Bosphorus to reach the Black Sea. Although details of the exact Chinese argument to Turkish authorities still remain elusive, a delegation of key Chinese diplomats is said to be involved.

China and Turkey are yet to officially confirm or deny the allegations.

According to Chinese diplomatic sources, China will readily veto and decision by the UN Security Council against Russia regarding the developments in Ukraine following a UK call for an emergency UNSC meeting.

Turkey’s Power Over The Straights

The Montreux Convention regarding the regime of the straights is a 1936 international agreement that gives Turkey control over the Bosphorus Straights and the Dardanelles, and regulates the transit of naval warhips. The convention gives Turkey full control over the straights and guarantees the free passage of civilian vessels in peacetime while restricting passage of naval ships not belonging to Black Sea states. The terms of the convention have been a source of controversy over the years, most notably concerning the Soviet Union’s military access to the Mediterranean Sea.

Signed on 20 July 1936, it permitted Turkey to remilitarize the straights. In went into effect on 9 November 1936 and was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on 11 December 1936. it is still in force today with some amendments.

A controversial project named Kanal istanbul attempts to create a secondary, artificial canal that will be parallel to the Bosphorus and also connect the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea. It may be a possible by pass to the Montreux Contention and allow greater Turkish autonomy with respect to the passage of military ships.

US, nuclear allies prepare for B61 overhaul

The US has reportedly earmarked $10 billion to upgrade its “dumb” B61 tactical nuclear bombs with a newer, guided version dubbed B61-12.

B61 is a tactical nuclear warhead capable of delivering a pre-determined nuclear yield of up to 50 kilotons,  large enough to level a whole city. Under a nuclear sharing agreement, these warheads have been deployed to bases in Turkey, Italy, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Various sources indicate the number of B61 warheads kept in Turkey to be around ninety, forty of which have been “assigned for host country use” under strict NATO supervision.

The B61-12 upgrade involves the installation of a modern INS navigation system that will enable a pilot to release the nuclear bomb with a much higher accuracy, making it unnecessary to use maximum yield to achieve a similar effect, minimizing unwanted collateral damage on the civilian population.

 

Turkey to arm Seahawk with naval UMTAS

Turkey has started engineering work to adapt a naval version of its successful UMTAS missile system for its fleet of Seahawk helicopters, TR Defence sources reported on Sunday.

The project is managed by ARMERKOM, a Turkish scientific and research institute operated by the Turkish Navy, Cengiz Topel Naval Aviation Command, and Turkey’s leading missile and aerospace company Roketsan, maker of a large family of rockets and guided missiles such as the Cirit.

The new missile will operate similar to the American Hellfire system and will be named Mizrak-U. First integration of the naval missiles on Turkish Seahawks is expected in 2015.

UMTAS is an extremely effective infrared guided, fire and forget capable anti-tank missile with a range of 8 kilometers (5 miles). It can be used against both static and moving targets day and night, including under adverse weather conditions.

 

Japan loses Altay opportunity to national policy

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T) has lost a potential deal to supply tank engines to Turkey because of restrictions that remain in place on Japan’s military exports, officials in Turkey and Japan said.

The development shows the limits of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s effort to dismantle a near total ban on Japanese weapons exports that has shut the country’s defense contractors out of overseas markets since World War Two.

Abe is pushing to ease the terms of Japan’s self-imposed weapons export restrictions in part to lower Japan’s defense procurement costs as part of a bid to build a more robust military to counter the rising regional power of China.

Mitsubishi Heavy had been under consideration to supply engines for the Altay tank being developed by Turkey’s Otokar (OTKAR.IS) since last year.

But on Thursday Murad Bayar, Turkey’s undersecretary for state-run defense industries, told reporters that the potential deal had been quietly dropped in talks with Tokyo.

“We have agreed with Japanese authorities to leave this topic off the agenda and focus on other areas of co-operation,” Bayar said.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had raised the issue of Japan’s co-operation in supplying tank engines when Abe visited Ankara in May. The approach by Erdogan sparked a round of talks between officials from the two countries and a visit to Turkey by Japanese engineers, officials in Japan said.

A spokesman for Mitsubishi Heavy said the company had no comment because the discussions were a “government matter.”

Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, said on Friday that he was not aware of the status of the talks with Turkey but said any  agreements would be based on the policies that limit Japan’s military.

Japan, which renounced the right to wage war in its postwar constitution, effectively banned arms exports in 1967.

Under new guidelines being developed by Abe’s coalition government, exports would be approved by the trade ministry if they were judged to serve peaceful missions or if joint development of a weapon was deemed to enhance national security, a person with knowledge of the review has told Reuters.

But the more lax arms exports standards under consideration by the Abe administration would still carry a requirement that Japan be consulted before weapons using Japanese technology were exported to other countries.

Talks with Turkey on the Altay tank broke down on that point at the working level, officials in Japan told Reuters. Turkey has hoped to export the Altay to other countries.

In a deal announced last month, India became the first country to agree to buy military aircraft from Japan since the war. Under the preliminary deal worth an estimated $1.65 billion, ShinMaywa Industries (7224.T) would supply amphibious aircraft to India’s military.

Reuters

NATO head expresses concern about Turkey’s Chinese missile deal

turkish-HQ-9-sam-system(Reuters) – The head of NATO expressed concern on Monday over Turkey’s decision to co-produce a missile defense system with a Chinese firm, saying he expected Ankara to choose a system that was compatible with those of other allies.

Turkey has said it is likely to sign a $3.4 billion missile defense deal with a Chinese firm that is subject to U.S. sanctions, although its decision is not yet final.

The United States has expressed serious concerns to Turkey, saying the Chinese missile defense system would not work with NATO systems.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said choosing a defense system was a national decision.

“What is important for us is that the system acquired by the individual country … must be able to work and operate with the systems in other countries. I expect that Turkey will also comply with that,” the former Danish prime minister told Reuters, speaking in Danish.

“I of course expect that each allied nation makes sure of this. It comes with being a NATO member,” Rasmussen said, speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Copenhagen.

Rasmussen said he understood Turkey had not yet made a final decision and was still in talks on the new defense system.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry said last month it favored China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp’s (CPMIEC) FD-2000 missile defense system over more expensive rival systems from Russian, U.S. and European firms.

The United States announced sanctions on CPMIEC in February for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

NATO diplomats say buying a system that did not work with NATO systems would hamper the ability of NATO allies to work together, undermining a principle of the 28-nation alliance.

CYBER CONCERNS

Some NATO diplomats said integrating a Chinese system into NATO’s defenses would raise cyber-security concerns and issues about NATO swapping technical data with a Chinese firm.

Turkey sees a growing threat of spillover from the war in neighboring Syria, as well as wider turbulence in the Middle East, and has been scrambling to bolster its air defenses.

Turkey has said the selection was not politically motivated, and that the Chinese offer met Turkey’s main demands of price and the ability to place much of the production in Turkey.

For China, the deal would be a breakthrough in its bid to become a supplier of advanced weapons.

Some Western defense analysts have said they were surprised by Turkey’s decision, having expected the contract to go to Raytheon Co, a U.S. company that builds the Patriot missile, or the Franco-Italian Eurosam SAMP/T.

The United States, Germany and the Netherlands each sent two Patriot batteries to southeastern Turkey this year after Ankara asked NATO to strengthen its defenses against possible missile attack from Syria.

By Mette Fraende

Anka May Lose Its Engine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An engine maybe developed to replace

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

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

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

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

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

Satellite-controled version of ANKA 

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

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

HDN

Milgem, Anka attract Brazil’s Interest

Turkey’s achievements in the defense industry in recent years continue to attract potential new partners such as Brazil, a leading emerging economy.
The potential for cooperation in a good number of projects in the defense industry is expected to be discussed by top-level officials from both sides as Celso Amorim, Brazilian minister of defense, is in Turkey on the occasion of the activation of the office of a military attaché at the Brazilian Embassy in Ankara.

I think we will discuss seven or eight [projects] and then concentrate on two or three of the projects, Amorim told Today’s Zaman on Monday. Buying arms from one another may also come onto the agenda, but the minister particularly stressed the potential for cooperation in joint projects, but noted that it is not possible at this stage to state which projects the two countries may work on together.

Turkey’s homemade corvette with stealth technology and the unmanned aerial vehicle (Anka-Phoenix) together with the attack helicopter Turkey has recently produced with the help of Italian AgustaWestland are some of the leading Turkish weapons Brazil seems to be interested in. You have a corvette which has very high standards [] very good helicopters. I think the UAV is [also] a possibility, said the minister of defense of Brazil, a country which has been busy redeveloping its own corvette. We can learn from each other and improve each other, added Amorim, a career diplomat who also served for many years as minister of foreign affairs.

For its part, the South American country is ready to cooperate with Turkey in areas in which it is stronger than Turkey, such as light fighter and civilian jets. Brazil has also been developing its own unmanned aerial vehicles with the help of the Israeli Elbit Systems. Brazil is very good at civilian airplanes, stated Amorim, who sounded hopeful about cooperation, but also noted that the two countries are at present at the learning stage, trying to get to know each other’s capabilities better.

Satellites may also turn out to be a potential field of cooperation between the two countries. Turkey has been making efforts to produce its own satellite, a field where Brazil, having already produced its own satellite some years ago, is stronger than Turkey. Even satellites.  Maybe we can look at it [for possible cooperation as well], the minister commented.

Turkey, having assigned a defense attaché to Brazil three years ago, is also eager to improve defense ties with South America’s largest economy. In an effort to boost bilateral ties, Turkish Minister of Defense smet Ylmaz also paid a visit to Brazil last year.

As part of the strengthening of relations between the two countries, the exchange of cadets and officers may also come onto the agenda. Noting that courses are usually offered in English at academies of most armed forces in the world, Amorim stated, So, we can receive people from your war colleges, [defense] academies and vice versa. Amorim was received by President Abdullah Gül on Monday and is also expected, on Wednesday, to meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutolu, with whom he is known to have very good personal relations.

The Turkish defense industry has been developing by leaps and bounds in recent years. As per data from the Defense and Aerospace Industry Manufacturers Association (SaSad), the total industry turnover, including sale of items produced by the civilian aviation industry, reached $4.4 billion in 2011, while the total exports figure amounted to $1.1 billion in the same year. The defense-only figure, which is stripped of civilian aviation items, stands at $817 million. In 2012, defense industry exports, both civilian and military, rose to $1.262 billion, while the figure was only a little over $600 million in 2007, and $850 million in 2010.

As per the strategic plan of the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) for 2012-16, the industry aims to increase yearly revenue to $8 billion and exports to $2 billion by 2016. Presently ranked 16th in terms of turnover, the industry hopes to place in the top 10 in the world by 2023, the centennial of the foundation of the Turkish Republic. Turkey is also working towards the domestic production of fighter jets, with the first test flight expected to take place in 2023.

TZ