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.”

Aselsan to demostrate products at high-tech Radar Technology Conference

DefenceIQ’s Military Radar conference (27 – 29, November, London), now in its 10th year, is set to gather international military radar specialists and key players across industry, procurement and development including the Royal Air Force, French Navy, Royal Netherlands Navy, DSTL, DRDC, Selex Galileo, Aselsan and Raytheon.

Military Radar will provide insight from the military radar user and operator perspective on the latest radar systems across land, air and sea domains. There will be updates on the latest developments in radar where delegates will gain a complete picture from T/R modules and low cost multi-sensors to GMTI computational linguistic methods.

“Military Radar provides an excellent forum to interface with worldwide operational users and radar professionals to gain better understanding of radar capability needs and emerging radar trends to meet these needs”said Arnie Victor, Director, Strategy and Business Development, Raytheon.

Presentations at Military Radar include:

Military:

  • Netherlands SMART-L Upgrade: Thales Long-Range Air Defence Radar: led by Lieutenant Commander Ton de Kleijn, Head of Section Sensor Technology, DMO Netherlands

 

Defence Research:

  • Airborne Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar Technology: led by Dr Stephen Moore, Radar Team Leader, Joint Systems Department, DSTL

 

Industry Leaders:

  • ASELSAN Family of Air Defense Radars and Technology Building Blocks: led by, Dr Alpay Erdoğan, Manager, Air Defense Radars Programs, Aselsan

 

Speakers will outline the changing requirements and technological progress in semi-conductor materials (GaN, GaAs, Si1−xGex, InP) to advances in data processing. Millimeter Wave Radar and Military Applications: Diversity Means Superiority will be the core focus for two practical workshops at the event.

Ahead of the Military Radar gathering, DefenceIQ conducted an interview with Lieutenant Commander Mark Ruston, Requirements Manager at the UK Royal Navy on how the UK Royal Navy is rehauling radar for the modern era. In this interview Lt. Cdr. Ruston discusses major developments within the radar field where British Forces are concerned, including 4G remediation and upgrades for the 997 radar on the Type-23 frigate “HMS Iron Duke”.

The 10thAnnual Military Radar is sponsored by: Aselsan and Astra Microwave Products Limited.

EASA Awards TAI with Design Organization Certificate

TAI Hurkus - Turkish Trainer Airplane

Being Turkey’s center of technology in design, development, modernization, manufacturing, integration and life cycle support of integrated aerospace systems, from fixed and rotary wing air platforms to unmanned aerial vehicle and space systems, Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc. (TAI), was awarded by EASA with the “Design Organization Certificate” for her Trainer Aircraft “HÜRKUŞ.”

TAI applied EASA in 2007 for Design Organization Certification, which certifies that the aircraft design process was performed within the approved regulations and standards.

Since then, TAI has successfully passed all the audits that were performed by the specialists of the European and Turkish Authorities, EASA and SHGM, and was awarded with the privilege to design an aircraft complying with international safety regulations. This authorization is the first of its kind that has been awarded to Turkey.

The Certificate confirms that TAI complies with the international standards starting from concept phase to the flight tests till the type certification.

All approved regulations and standards will form the basis for TAI’s future development programs such as Regional Jet or Fighter Jets.

U.K. To Order First Production F-35 for Training

Britain is to order a fourth F-35B short-takeoff and vertical-landing (STOVL) fighter next year from builder Lockheed Martin. The aircraft will be the first production-standard F-35 destined for the training fleet, rather than the test and evaluation role being undertaken by the first three aircraft ordered by the British.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond made the order announcement during the handover of the first of the aircraft at a ceremony at the U.S. contractor’s Fort Worth plant in Texas on July 19. The initial three aircraft were purchased at a cost of nearly 300 million pounds ($469.2 million) for test and evaluation, but the fourth will be used to give front-line pilots their first taste of training on the F-35.

The second evaluation aircraft will be delivered next month and the third is scheduled for handover in early 2013. The latest order will see the fourth aircraft delivered in the 2015-2016 time frame.

The British, the only full-scale international partner in the development of the Joint Strike Fighter, become the first country outside the United States to take delivery of an aircraft.

The fighter will be jointly operated by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.

Hammond recently said that although no final decision had been made, the RAF jets were likely to be based at Marham, Norfolk, starting in 2018. Flight trials from the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth-class carrier will commence at about the same time.

The handover and new order follows a period of near farce when the British government managed two U-turns in quick succession on the variant of the F-35 it intended to operate.

An initial, long-standing decision to go for the B STOVL variant was overturned in favor of the C conventional carrier version, only for the Conservative-led coalition government to change its mind again a few months later when it became apparent that the cost of modifying the aircraft carriers now being built would be prohibitive.

The British have declined to give any information on aircraft order numbers ahead of the next strategic defense and security review, scheduled for 2015.

DefenseNews

“Syria shot Turkish plane without warning” Ankara says

The Turkish government has refuted a statement from the Syrian Foreign Ministry that said Damascus acted in self-defense in shooting down a Turkish warplane on June 22, Turkish sources told the Hürriyet Daily News today.

“We have necessary information showing that the Turkish plane was shot at without any warning,” an official source said on condition of anonymity.

“We are 100 percent right and the act of Syrian regime is against all dynamics of international law,” Ömer Çelik, the deputy chairman in charge of foreign policy for the ruling Justi ce and Development Party (AK Parti), said on his Twitter account. “All data about the incident confirms that.”

A more detailed announcement about Turkey’s reaction is expected to be made tomorrow (Sunday) morning by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who has attended all three high-level security meetings and has been engaged in intense diplomacy since the incident took place.

One June 22, a Turkish F-4 Phantom reconnaissance plane which took off from an air base in the eastern province of Malatya, which also hosts the NATO-run missile shield radar, was shot down by Syria’s air defense system near the Syrian city of Latakia, which is close to the Russian naval base at Tartus.

The Syrian government said it shot down the plane in Syrian air space in self-defense before realizing that it was a Turkish plane. The aircraft’s two Turkish pilots are still missing.

Davutoğlu’s telephone diplomacy included the secretary general of the United Nations, the foreign ministers of all P5+1 countries (the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, China and Germany), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Iran (which also called Ankara to “express concern”), the foreign and security commissioner of the European Union and the secretary general of the Arab League, a diplomatic source told the Daily News.

In another important development, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has asked for appointments from the leaders of the other three main political parties in the Turkish Parliament on Sunday in order to explain the details of the incident and discuss the matter, the Prime Minister’s Office has announced.

This is an unusual move and has caused speculation about a possible parliamentary decision which is a requirement for any foreign military action according to the Turkish Constitution. “We are not considering a military action now,” a source told the Daily News. “But we want to inform the opposition and we want to keep all options open.”

The opposition has taken an unusually calm stance regarding the downed plane. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP),  told reporters that there were “a lot of questions to ask” but that the situation currently had to be dealt with calmly.

Turkish-Syrian relations have been deteriorating since the Bashar al-Assad regime started to crush the Syrian opposition, which has been demanding more rights as a result of the Arab Spring.

Currently there are more than 33,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey, including 12 army officers above the rank of brigadier-general or higher. Also, the Syrian National Council and the Free Syrian Army have their main headquarters in Turkey.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has recently denied press report saying that Ankara is financially supporting the smuggling of arms from the CIA to Syrian opposition groups.

HDN

Lethal Drone Attack Hits US-Turkish Mil. Relations

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal about a Turkish military attack last December that left 34 Kurdish smugglers dead has led to intense debate inside Turkey and has given rise to new questions about the level of American involvement in Ankara’s fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The attack, which took place near a village called Uludere on the Turkey-Iraq border, came after the Turkish military came to believe that a convoy of PKK fighters was trying to enter Turkey through a mountain trail. After Turkish warplanes struck the convoy, based on intelligence provided by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), it turned out that it was actually made up of villagers — mostly teenagers — smuggling fuel into Turkey. Although the Turkish government promised to investigate the incident and has also paid the victims’ families compensation, there has still been no explanation as to what caused the intelligence failure that led to 34 innocent people being killed.
The WSJ article from two days ago adds a new and dramatic wrinkle to the story: the original intelligence about the convoy was given to the Turkish military by an American UAV. Reportsthe Journal:

It was a U.S. Predator drone that spotted the men and pack animals, officials said, and American officers alerted Turkey.

The U.S. drone flew away after reporting the caravan’s movements, leaving the Turkish military to decide whether to attack, according to an internal assessment by the U.S. Defense Department, described to The Wall Street Journal. “The Turks made the call,” a senior U.S. defense official said. “It wasn’t an American decision.”

There is nothing unusual about an American UAV providing Ankara with intelligence. US drones have supporting Turkish military efforts since 2007, when Washington set up what is known as the Combined Intelligence Fusion Cell, a complex in Ankara where American and Turkish officers sit together and jointly monitor live drone video feeds. But that cooperation has been increased over the last year. As previously reported on this blog, last November the US moved a squadron of Predators from a base in Iraq to Turkey’s Incirlik airbase as part of an effort to deepen military ties with Ankara and to increase cooperation in the fight against the PKK.

As the WSJ article makes clear, though, there are some in Washington — in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill — who are concerned about how the intelligence provided by American drones might be used by Ankara:

A former senior U.S. military official, involved in sharing intelligence with Turkey before the December attack, said he and fellow officers were sometimes troubled by Turkish standards for selecting targets. The former official said Turkish officers sometimes picked targets based on a notion of “guilt by association” with the PKK. A current U.S. intelligence official defended the partnership. “That is going to be the exception. It is a horrible exception. It’s a tragic exception,” he said of the caravan strike. “But the vast majority of efforts to expand our information sharing and to work with our partners and allies around the world are going to have positive outcomes.”

U.S. personnel work in the Ankara Fusion Cell, in part, to monitor Turkey’s use of U.S. intelligence, U.S. officials said.

Turkish officials have assured the U.S. of their measures to avoid civilian casualties. They say privately that Predator drones help reduce attacks on the PKK using less precise weapons, such as artillery.

But U.S. officials say such mistakes are feeding a debate within the intelligence community and the Defense Department about setting better guidelines for sharing of U.S. intelligence.

Intelligence officials are divided on the issue. Some say the U.S. should withhold intelligence if it believes an ally might abuse the information. Others warn new rules could slow intelligence sharing during emergencies.

The report, meanwhile, has put the Turkish government in a tight spot. The suggestion that Turkish authorities gave a green light to attack the convoy after refusing an American offer to provide more Predator surveillance could make Ankara vulnerable to charges of negligence and could further inflame an already tense situation in Turkey’s predominantly-Kurdish southeast region. At the same time, regardless of how the intelligence was used, Ankara likely doesn’t want to be perceived domestically as working too closely with Washington or, worse, being somehow under American command. Not surprisingly, both the Turkish military and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have denied the claims made in the WSJ’s story. The allegations in the article were “made up,” Erdogan said.

One way or another, it’s clear that this incident will likely lead not only to a change in how Turkey uses UAV-provided intelligence, but also in how Washington controls what is done with the drone intelligence it provides Ankara.

Israel delivers 4 more Herons

Isreal has delivered 4 Heron unmanned reconnasissance aircraft to Turkey. TR Defence sources reported on Saturday.

Turkish-Israeli relations were heavily damaged following Israel’s deadly raid to Turkey’s Mavi Marmara aid ship in international waters, claiming the lives of 9 Turks and 1 American on board. Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel and all military relations were frozen in response. Recently, relations further strained after an Israeli aircraft violated North Cyprus’ airspace,  a protectorate of Turkey, reportedly in order to gain intelligence on the latest oil & gas drilling developments and to gauge Turkey’s response to a possible hot conflict over the island of Cyprus.

Behind closed doors, however, Israel has seemingly started to try and repair relations. Turkey had sent to Israel 5 Heron-type unmanned aerial vehicles for maintenance and upgrades. But Israel had  thus far refused to return them to Turkey due to the restrained relations. Finally though, four of the five Turkish aircraft were delivered back to Turkey last week, reports indicated.

Condition and mission worthiness of the airplanes, though, is unknown and there still remains one more aircraft to be delievered.

 

Israeli plane violates North Cyprus airspace

Turkey said on Thursday it had scrambled military jets to intercept an Israeli plane that violated northern Cypriot airspace this week, and demanded an explanation for the incursion.

An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment on the accusation. But the incident marked a fresh source of tension between the former allies.

Relations between Turkey and Israel fell apart after Israeli commandos raided the Mavi Marmara aid vessel in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip and killed nine Turks in clashes with pro-Palestinian activists.

Monday’s reported air incursion coincided with tensions on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus over oil and gas exploration plans there, which could hinder U.N.-backed efforts to reunite wthe island.

“A plane belonging to Israel, the model of which could not be identified, violated KKTC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) airspace (above its territorial waters) five times,” the Turkish military said in a statement posted on its website.

“In response to this situation, our 2XF-16 plane based at Incirlik was scrambled and our planes carried out patrol flights in KKTC airspace, preventing the said plane from continuing to violate KKTC airspace,” said the statement.

Turkey’s foreign ministry said it had contacted Israel’s mission in Ankara, seeking an explanation for the incursion.

In Jerusalem, an Israeli military spokeswoman said she was checking the report.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when the Turkish military invaded the island after a short-lived Greek Cypriot coup engineered by the military junta then in power in Athens.

Turkey still keeps about 30,000 troops in the north and is the only nation that recognises the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

 

ENERGY EXPLORATION TENSIONS

The internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government reported an offshore natural gas discovery in December but its attempt to exploit the reserves has been challenged by Turkey.

Ankara has in turn given approval for Turkey’s state-run oil firm to carry out oil and gas exploration in six offshore areas around northern Cyprus, drawing condemnation from the Greek Cypriot government, which lays claim to the territory.

Israel has separately reported two major energy finds offshore in the sea separating it from Cyprus.

Israel has worked to enhance ties with Cyprus and Greece as its relations with Turkey have frayed.

The eastern Mediterranean has recently seen joint Israeli military manoeuvres with its partners, as well as long-distance training by Israel’s air force for a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Israel uses warplanes and pilotless drones, as well as naval craft, to patrol its offshore natural gas fields.

Turkey stirred fears of a possible confrontation at sea by saying last year it would boost its naval patrols in the eastern Mediterranean.

But a senior Israeli military officer said that there had been no discernible increase in Turkish naval operations in Israel’s economic waters, which extend 187 km (117 miles) from its coast.

Brazil, Turkey vow to deepen military ties

Brazil and Turkey’s defense chiefs vowed Monday to boost military ties and  technology transfers between the two emerging nations.

At a meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim and his  visiting counterpart Ismet Yilmaz signed a letter of intent formalizing a move  to “develop cooperation between the defense industries of both countries,  including technology transfer and joint projects.”

Yilmaz, at the start of a week-long visit to Brazil, has expressed interest  in the South American nation’s aerospace technologies, cybernetics and the  unmanned aerial craft.

At a leadership meeting in October, the two countries moved toward a closer  relationship with vows to boost trade and strengthen ties.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said on a visit to Ankara that trade  between the two countries stood at $2 billion in 2011, and Turkey’s President  Abdullah Gul said the countries have a target of reaching $10 billion “in a very  short period of time.”

Co-development of a new regional airliner by Brazilian aerospace giant Embraer and Turkey’s TAI is expected to be among the projects topping their bilateral agenda.

AFP/NOW

Pilot dies in Air Forces plane crash

Lieutenant Ümit Özer died when his F-5 plane crashed near a factory. (DHA photo)

A Turkish Air Forces pilot was killed yesterday when the plane he was flying in a training flight crashed in the Central Anatolian province of Konya. The pilot was identified as Lieutenant Ümit Özer, 31, who was reported to have joined the Air Forces recently.

Konya Governor Aydın Nezih Doğan said Özer was killed when his F-5 plane crashed near a factory on the Konya-Ankara road. The plane belonged to the Turkish Air Forces Command aerobatic team. Doğan extended his condolences to the pilot’s family.

President Abdullah Gül also offered his condolences to Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel in a written message. Firefighters and ambulances were sent to the scene of the crash immediately. The cause of the accident is still unknown, the General Staff announced.

HDN