Japanese stealth fighter goes airborne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Sabah

Aselsan and Roketsan work on national air defense

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

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

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

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

Daily Sabah

Turkey to acquire heavy lift airplane

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

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

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

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

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

Turkish and French companies in joint missile development

Turkey is pressing ahead with talks with U.S. and European firms over its first long-range missile defence system, as the preferred Chinese bidder has yet to meet all requirements for the multi-billion dollar project, two officials said on Thursday.

NATO member Turkey chose China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp in 2013 as the preferred candidate for the $3.4 billion deal, prompting U.S. and Western concern about security and the compatibility of the weaponry with NATO systems.

Turkey’s defence minister said last week it did not plan to integrate the system with NATO infrastructure, only for the presidential spokesman to say days later that the systems would be integrated.

One of the defence officials told Reuters on Thursday there were still question marks over the Chinese proposal, particularly around “technology transfer” to boost the Turkish defence industry.

“Contacts on this issue are continuing. Securing technology transfer is one of the most important subjects in the tender and on this subject a full guarantee has not been provided,” the official said.

U.S. and NATO representatives were unhappy with Turkey’s choice of China Precision Machinery, which has been under U.S. sanctions for selling items to Iran, Syria or North Korea that are banned under U.S. laws to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

FRENCH CONNECTION

Turkish defense contractor Aselsan and French defense contractor Thales on Thursday agreed to install Thales-made Lightweight Multi-role Missiles on Turkish Aselsan’s launch-pad, the companies said in a joint statement released on Thursday.

Aselsan is known for its products in military communications and weapons systems. Thales is one of largest defense electronics contractors in the world with its revenue exceeding $16 billion in 2014.

The two companies have been working together since 2010, and have completed a long period of trials for the missiles and the launcher.

The agreement opens the way for more cooperation between the two companies, the statement said.

In addition to bids from the U.S. firm Raytheon Co and the Franco-Italian group Eurosam, the officials told Reuters that Russia, eliminated in the first stage of the tender, was still keen on providing a surface-to-air missile system – a prospect that could also raise concerns in NATO.

Eurosam, which is owned by the multinational European missile maker MBDA and France’s Thales, came second in the tender. U.S.-listed Raytheon Co also put in an offer with its Patriot missile defence system, which is now operated by 13 countries around the world.

One of the officials said defence representatives had gone to Italy at the end of January for talks with Eurosam.

“In March, a delegation will go to the United States for talks with the other bidder. Finally, a delegation will go to China and hold talks there,” he said.

The sources said Russia had renewed its interest in the project. Officials previously said Russia had revised an initial bid and offered to sell Turkey its S-400 medium- to long-range anti-aircraft missile system.

However Turkey is not currently holding talks with the Russians.

WorldBulletin

Turkish Vipers Hunt in German Skies

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

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

Turkey may scrap Chinese missile deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South China Morning Post

Turkey reveals plans for Space Command

Ankara, Turkey – Turkish Air Force, country’s top scientific and technological research organization, dubbed TUBITAK and a number of industry participants are collaborating for the development of an integrated command and control center exclusively for Turkey’s upcoming space projects, officials familiar with the program told TR Defence. The new center’s exact location has not yet been disclosed but Ankara, the nation’s capital, is on top of a very short list of candidates.

It will eventually host over 180 personnel around the clock, oversee all of Turkey’s orbital operations and will also act as a mission control center as part of Turkey’s ambitious satellite launcher project spearheaded by missile manufacturer Roketsan. It will operate in conjunction with an existing, smaller operations center.

“The center will be capable of tracking all space objects of Turkish origin, but only be managing government-sponsored satellites and missions,” a TUBITAK press correspondent said.

“We’re consulting with ESA, NASA, CNSA and other international industry partners to build an efficient space infrastructure and make our systems interoperable with theirs as part of Turkey’s wider space strategy,” official added.

Turkey currently operates a number of telecommunications and Earth observation satellites and is hoping to produce its next generation of satellites in Turkey with maximum local contribution.

A high-resolution spy satellite that stirred some heat with Israel last year over Israeli and Western worries that sensitive images might end up in the hands of Islamist terrorists, named Gokturk-1, is scheduled to be launched this year, followed up by an indigenously built SAR satellite planned for orbit in 2018.

Turkey hopes to begin sending its own satellites to space by 2023, its 100th anniversary as a modern republic.

Syrian missiles ‘locked-on to Turkish jets’

Syria’s missile systems ‘harassed’ Turkish fighter jets on Monday, the Turkish General Staff has announced in a statement.

The missiles deployed in Syria locked on to Turkish F-16 fighter jets as they were carrying out a routine combat air patrol along the Turkey-Syria border, according to the statement published on the General Staff’s website.

Tensions in the area have remained high since Turkish forces shot down a Syrian warplane for entering its airspace on March 23.

The two countries’ borders extend more than 800km.

WB

THK reluctantly accepts 1st A400M in Kayseri

The first of 10 Airbus Military A400M transport aircrafts that Turkey has ordered was finally delivered to the Turkish Air Forces (THK) on Wednesday following Airbus’ assurances that contract terms will be fully met regarding spare parts.

The A400M, which is the largest transport aircraft in the world, landed at a military base in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri on Wednesday. Turkey is expected to receive another A400M this year.

Turkey has ordered at least 10 of the next-generation military transport aircraft from Airbus Military. The long-awaited tactical airlifter has seen a series of delays and budget hikes.

The first test flight of the received A400M was held at Etimesgut Air Base in Ankara and the second took place at the 12th Military Airbase Command in Kayseri province in July 2013. The A400M was designed for military use but can also serve civilian purposes.

The high-tech A400M can cover large distances in a short period of time and is highly maneuverable. Turkey has been working with France during the A400M’s production phase.

TZ

Turkish, Greek jets back at “war” after 2 years

Turkish and Greek fighter jets engaged in a mid-air dogfight over the Aegean Sea twice on April 15 in a first since January 2012, Greek media has reported.

According to the reports based on Greek military sources, four F-16s belonging to the Turkish Air Force approached the Semadirek (Samothraki) Island before the first dogfight. Four Greek F-16s took off “to locate and prevent” the Turkish aircraft. Sides faced off against each other north of Samothraki, as well as southwest of Limni (Limnos) Island.

The official website of the Turkish General Staff did not list any violations or dogfights for April 15.

Greece unilaterally claims 10 nautical miles (19 km) of airspace, as opposed to the six miles of territorial waters, as Turkey and other NATO countries accept. Athens considers any unauthorized flight in the airspace from six to 10 miles in the Aegean a “violation.”

Dogfights between Turkish and Greek aircraft over the Aegean Sea had significantly decreased due to the economic crisis Athens is struggling with.

HDN