Azerbaijan to manufacture Turkish rockets

Azerbaijan and Turkey to sign final document on joint missile production in the near future.

The range capability of ROKETSAN-produced 107 mm caliber missiles is more than 11 km and 122 mm caliber missiles more than 40 km (twice higher than the former Soviet - Russian equivalents).
The range capability of ROKETSAN-produced 107 mm caliber missiles is more than 11 km and 122 mm caliber missiles more than 40 km (twice higher than the former Soviet – Russian equivalents).

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense Industry and ROKETSAN company of Turkey will sign a final document on the joint production of missiles at an Azerbaijani facility, Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) told Azerbaijan’s APA.

Technical issues on joint production have already been solved. Necessary measures are being taken to start the production.

SSM has not revealed when the final document will be signed.

According to the agreement, 107 and 122 mm caliber missiles will be manufactured at the Azerbaijani facility with the participation of ROKETSAN. The engines for these missiles will be produced by ROKETSAN, other parts in Azerbaijan.

Relevant discussions have been held since 2008. The range capability of ROKETSAN-produced 107 mm caliber missiles is more than 11 km and 122 mm caliber missiles more than 40 km (twice higher than the former Soviet – Russian equivalents).


Erdogan acts to take away more clout from Turkish military

Turkey, fearing the prospect of intervention, has again reduced the influence of the military.

Parliament has voted to redefine the duty of the military in Turkey. On July 13, the ruling Justice and Development Party rammed through a bill that would end any military intervention in politics.

“The duty of the Armed Forces is to protect the Turkish homeland against threats and dangers to come from abroad, to ensure the preservation and strengthening of military power in a manner that will provide deterrence, to fulfill the duties abroad with the decision of the Parliament and help maintain international peace,” the amendment said.

The amendment was sponsored by the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan amid fears that the military, which staged four coups between 1960 and 1997, could exploit the nationwide protests in Turkey.

Under the revision, the military, the second largest in NATO, would be restricted to defense against foreign threats as well as participating in international peacekeeping missions.

Over the last five years, Erdogan has steadily whittled away at the power and influence of the military. The turning point came in 2010 when much of the General Staff resigned in protest of Erdogan’s intervention and the arrest of hundreds of officers. Since then, the prime minister was said to have maintained direct control over the General Staff.

“Our country has a tradition of coups,” Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said. “And the true victim of the coups has always been the people.”

Parliamentarians said the legislation also fell in line with European Union demands to place the military under greater civilian control. They said parliament would consider legislation to place the military under the authority of the Defense Ministry.

The pro-military opposition also voted for the amendment. Parliamentarians said they wanted to rule out any chance of a military coup.

“As of now, I hope Turkey will no longer speak of coups and will develop its democracy,” Sezgin Tanrikulu, a parliamentarian from the opposition Republican People’s Party, said.


IDEF 2013: Otokar positions for exports with new designs

Otokar TULPAR IFV with the Mizrak turret system featuring a 30mm dual-fed cannon and Aselsan electro-optics.

Otokar made further moves to position itself as a viable alternative to Western manufacturers with the release of three new vehicles at the IDEF exhibition in Istanbul.

Alongside the second prototype of the Altay MBT, Otokar unveiled the Tulpar armoured vehicle, the Cobra II 4×4 and the Ural 4×4 tactical vehicle.

The company, which claims to have delivered more than 6000 APCs since the 1990s, has in recent years increasingly sought to avoid foreign involvement in its developmental projects, allowing it to more freely compete in its favoured markets of the Middle East and Asia.

The 32t Tulpar IFV has been designed as a multipurpose vehicle that can accommodate three crew and nine infantry. The vehicle is currently powered by a Scania DI 16 turbo intercooler engine and has growth potential up to 42t.

An Otokar spokesman explained that the Tulpar meets current requirements for an IFV that is able to operate alongside heavier MBTs.

He said the unmanned turret allowed for greater internal volume while the configuration had been arranged so that all three crew members can see each other, making communication easier during the din of battle.

The vehicle on display included Otokar’s Misrak remote control weapon station. The weapon system includes a 30mm dual feed automatic cannon with 210 ready rounds and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun with 500 ready rounds. Both weapons can be reloaded from inside the vehicle.

Development of the prototype vehicle, on display at IDEF, began a year ago and trials are currently ongoing.

The Tulpar has also been developed as a family of vehicles, with company literature showing the basic vehicle adapted for a range of different applications, including anti-tank (105mm) and mortar vehicle (120mm).

Otokar also used the exhibition to unveil the Ural 4×4 tactical vehicle, which fills a gap in its product range between the larger APCs and the Cobra 4×4. The 6t vehicle is capable of carrying eight passengers, including the driver.

The Cobra II was also shown for the first time. According to company literature, this latest version has the same mobility as the Cobra, which is in service with 15 countries, but features a higher carrying capacity and internal volume.

Shephard Media

Otokar excites again with Tulpar IFV

Tulpar IFV from Otokar as shown in the IDEF 2013 international defense fair in Istanbul.

Turkey’s vehicle manufacturing powerhouse Otokar has unveiled a new 35 ton armored infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) at the IDEF 2013 international defense industry fair.

Appropriately named ‘Tulpar’ after the Turkic mythological horse with wings that protects warriors in battle, the vehicle is operated by a crew of three (driver, gunner and commander) and can transport a squad of nine fully equipped soldiers to the front lines while providing fire support to other units. A front located 810HP diesel engine and automatic transmission allow for a maximum speed of 70km/h and a range of 340 km.

Tulpar is armed with the Mizrak turret assembly featuring a 30mm dual-fed automatic main gun and 7.62mm coaxial secondary gun, all wired to a state-of-the-art fire control system (FCS) provided by Aselsan. All the guns are remotely controlled and can land their shots on target with high precision courtesy of an array of 8 high-tech cameras with night vision/infrared assist, zoom, laser range finder and target designator, also giving Tulpar 360 degree situational awareness day and night, under all weather conditions.

Tulpar’s modular armor allows for different levels of protection depending on configuration, quick swap of any damaged components during maintenance and provides protection against up-to 25mm armor piercing projectiles, a best-in-class in this category of vehicles. Furthermore, an arc shaped, enforced composite structure underneath the hull allows Tulpar to survive mine blasts with up to 10kg of TNT. Tulpar comes equipped with an automatic fire suppression system, an APU and provides full NBC protection to its occupants.

Designed with the needs of 21st century land warfare, Tulpar is fully network-centric. Standard systems include command and control computer, software defined digital radios, satellite communications, FCS and laser threat warning sensors. Otokar is considering the integration of the L-UMTAS long-range antitank missiles as a future upgrade option for the TSK and export customers.


US Pushing Hard To Sell Javelins to France

The US joint venture that builds the Javelin anti-tank missile came through town recently to introduce a new senior executive, underscoring American industry’s hot pursuit of a contract for a medium-range weapon for the French Army, sources briefed on the issue said.

The Javelin joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Raytheon presented its new business development manager for France, Ken Alexander, the week of April 15 to officials of the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) procurement office and Army head­quarters, two sources said.

The company executives gave an update on the Javelin modernization program in a bid to replace the French Army’s aging MBDA Milan missiles. The visit follows  a presentation by the joint venture in June.

That puts Javelin in head-to-head combat with European missile maker MBDA, which hopes to develop and build a new weapon under the planned missile moyenne portée (MMP), medium-range missile program.

“MBDA is still the front-runner,” one source said.

But the Javelin joint venture is still pursuing a French order. Up to now, the requirement has been for 3,000 replacement missiles.

The US side raises questions as to whether there  will  be money to develop a new weapon and whether MBDA will be able to deliver by mid-2017, when the Milan is taken out of service, the source said.

MBDA confirmed that work started on MMP in 2010, with some funding from the DGA in late 2011 for the assessment phase, a company spokesman said.

“Work is on track for delivery to start in 2017 to avoid any capability gap when the Milan is withdrawn from the French Army,” the spokesman said.

Although a program decision has not been taken due to financial uncertainty, planners see MBDA’s role as a given in the upcoming military budget law, a defense specialist said. That’s partly because MBDA acts as a channel for British-French cooperation, which  could one day lead to a common long-range version of the MMP that could replace the US Hellfire on the Tiger attack helicopter, the specialist said. Such cooperation between Britain and France makes a selection of the US-made Javelin seem impossible, the specialist said.

For the Americans, a lack of French defense money is seen as a powerful ally in their push for the Javelin. For MBDA, however, there are hopes the ministerial investment committee will decide on a program launch of MMP in June or July, with July 21 ringed in on some calendars.

MBDA Chief Executive Antoine Bouvier has said MMP is one of the three big decisions this year, along with an anti-ship missile dub­bed anti-navire léger, and boost­ing range on the Aster Block 1 air defense weapon.

A second defense specialist said the  defense staff chief sees the MMP as “the priority of priorities,” more so than the anti-ship missile.

Javelin’s Pros and Cons

The Javelin joint venture, meanwhile, points to the US Army’s order for a modernized model to enter service in 2016.

That clears the way for  a first delivery to France in 2016 or 2017, and in time for the Milan replacement date.

Under the US Javelin cost reduction initiative, which would cut unit prices by 25 percent,  the request  is to extend the range beyond the existing requirement  of 2.5 kilometers of the current model.

In firings on a US Army test range late last year, the Javelin in-service model hit targets at 4.7 kilometers, with one missile missing the target and going out to 5 kilometers, the second source said. Therefore, the tests show the current model already has the longer range.

The Javelin, however, is designed as a fire-and-forget weapon, while the French Army calls for a man in the loop to limit harm to civilians. The  joint venture offers fire-and-forget in Phase I, and adaptation to French needs under a possible MBDA co-development in a later phase.

The US Army is expected to keep the Javelin in its inventory to 2050, which allows the European local partner to sign up for a spiral development if France picked the weapon.

The US is open to co-development, seen as a necessity given budget cuts. The joint venture is also negotiating with the US government for a multiyear contract for the Javelin, intended to lower costs.

Another argument for the Javelin is French interoperability with British and US forces, which both use the weapon and are often deployed alongside in multinational missions, the first source said.

French officials have ruled out the Rafael Spike missile for undisclosed reasons, the source said.

MBDA displayed a model of the MMP at its stand at the special operations forces innovations network seminar, a trade show and conference near Bordeaux, which ran April 9-11.

The European company has signed an export contract for an undisclosed client for its Milan extended response weapon, a company executive said at the show. Milan ER, developed using  company money,  lost to Javelin in 2009, when the French Army picked the US missile for troops in Afghanistan.

Anti-tank weapons are among the arms key to  special operations forces, according to  a glossy brochure produced by the French special operations command.

President François Hollande has said the 2014 defense budget will be the same as this year’s, but there is still huge doubt how that figure will be reached, leaving uncertainty over what new programs will be picked.


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.

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.


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.


Turkey’s Massive Military Trial Opens Old Wounds

Claims of procedural and evidentiary anomalies in a huge trial of coup plotters raise criticism of the Erdogan administration. Is the Prime Minister trying too hard to bury the military—and Turkish secularism?

It was meant to be a milestone for Turkish democracy. In a trial that ran for 21 months, more than 300 senior military officers — including two ex-generals — were accused of seeking to overthrow Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s Islamist-rooted government in 2003. Never again would hardline secularist generals — the arbiters of political life for decades by force of coups or behind-the-scenes coercion — be able to act with impunity. The trial — dubbed Sledgehammer — was to represent the end of an era when the top brass believed themselves beyond the reach of the law, justified in their actions because Turks needed protecting from radical Islam and could not know what was best for themselves.

On Friday a judge in a crowded purpose-built courthouse outside Istanbul handed down jail sentences ranging from 13 to twenty years against 325 officers. But instead of writing an epilogue to a divisive era, a nation already bitterly polarized over its future became even further divided.

The defendants –including two former generals and a former admiral–were accused of planning to bomb mosques at prayer time and to shoot down a Greek fighter jet in an attempt to stir public unrest and cause the downfall of Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted government, now in its third term in power. But the trial was dogged from the start by allegations of improper conduct, false evidence and apparent anomalies, such as dozens of officers nowhere near an incriminating war games exercise or CDs said to have been recorded in 2002-3 but using Word 2007 software. The defense repeatedly complained that its counter-evidence was not heard and key witnesses were not called to testify. Erdogan, critics charged, used the trial as a pretext to lock away his former opponents.

“I am not convinced by the verdict and I don’t believe it is fair because the court ignored much of the counter-evidence that emerged during the trial,” says Sedat Ergin, columnist at the top-selling Hurriyet daily. “From here on there is a process of appeals that could go all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. Far from closing a chapter, the Sledgehammer case has just become an even bigger issue on Turkey‘s plate.”

Sledgehammer was seen by many as the final installment in Erdogan’s long-running campaign to rein in the military–once an archenemy that made little secret of its disdain for him and his pious cohorts. Headscarf-wearing wives of politicians were not allowed to attend official functions. High-ranking commanders would often refuse to shake hands with Erdogan allies. For the Prime Minister, who served a brief prison sentence while mayor of Istanbul for inciting religious hatred, it is a wound that clearly still rankles.

Dethroning the military is a mission that has defined his rule. Re-elected for a second term in 2007 with an almost 50% majority, he used that mandate to launch a series of investigations into officers, lawyers, politicians, journalists and others that exposed several alleged conspiracies against the government. The plots were based on plans to cause upheaval, loss of faith in the government and thus pave the way for a military takeover. A second mammoth trial—this one called Ergenekon–is still ongoing. Some of its defendants have been behind bars for four years pending proceedings.

The allegations against the military are believable to many Turks. Turkey’s generals staged three coups between 1960 and 1980, while a fourth government, the first Islamist-led, was pressured from power in 1997. The country also has a long painful history of unsolved political murders and bomb attacks popularly ascribed to a sinister ‘Deep State’ motivated by nationalistic security concerns.

“Nobody denies that the military was in need of a clean-up,” Pinar Dogan, a Harvard professor and daughter of convicted ex-general Cetin Dogan, told me early on during the trial. “But this was done just to throw as many people as possible behind bars. It shouldn’t have been done in a spirit of political revenge.”

The power struggle between the military and Erdogan is also symbolic of a struggle over what a future Turkey will look like. Strict secularism was inscribed into the majority Muslim country by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Westernizing commander who founded modern Turkey from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. Under Erdogan, a devout Muslim, Turkey is changing. He has relaxed curbs on religious expression–such as a ban on headscarves at universities. Turkey now has one of the highest taxes in the world on alcohol and cigarettes. A radical recent change means schools now have to offer religion classes such as “The Life of the Prophet Muhammad.”

“The massive reckoning going on behind the scenes is over what kind of a country Turkey should be,” says Osman Ulagay, a respected journalist and author of Who Will Inherit Turkey? “Broadly speaking, Erdogan’s thesis is that by choosing Western-style modernization, Turkey made a mistake. He sees his government as more in tune with the people’s belief and envisages a wealthy country, more tied to its traditions… that also reclaims a place for Islam on the world stage.”

One final legacy of Turkey’s military-dominated past is its constitution, drawn up after a 1980 coup. It is currently being rewritten by a parliamentary commission and how Erdogan manages that process will be crucial to his democratic track record. He has made little secret of his aspirations to create a stronger office of the President—that he would presumably run for. Critics say that could turn him into a Turkish version of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Turkey’s future will depend to a large extent on whether he can forego his personal political ambitions and create a multi-cultural, inclusive document that enshrines tolerance and democratic rights.

By Pelin Turgut, Time

Aselsan to produce STAMP & STOP systems in UAE

Turkey’s defence electronics giant Aselsan has signed a $2.7 million contract with IGG of the United Arab Emirates.

The contract aims to build and upgrade IGG’s facilities for the production of Aselsan’s proprietary STAMP and STOP stabilized remote weapon systems. STAMP features a two-axis gyro stabilized 12.7mm machine gun, remote command and control systems and a sensor suite complete with daylight TV, laser range finder and high-resolution infrared cameras. STOP is a similar platform that has adopted the 40mm grenade launcher as its primary weapon.

The project will last through 2013.


Sex for military secrets

"The prostitute “accidentally” drives into the targeted officer’s car, seduces him, secretly films him in the act, and blackmails him"

How does a prostitute make an officer reveal military secrets? Rather easily, according to evidence assembled against a group of Turkish officers who allegedly ran a sex-for-secrets ring.

The prostitute “accidentally” drives into the targeted officer’s car, seduces him, secretly films him in the act, and blackmails him. At least 80 people, 60 of them serving officers, have been arrested in connection with the “escort girls” case. This was launched in 2009 after police in the western port city of Izmir were tipped off by an anonymous e-mail. (Because of the highly sensitive nature of the case the prosecution has refused to reveal all of the evidence and a formal indictment is still pending.) Arrest warrants for 50 more officers were issued this month, after the shooting down of a Turkish fighter jet by Syria, on the ground that the honey trap was aimed at army personnel working at radar installations. Nineteen prostitutes have also been arrested pending trial.

The army’s pro-Islamic critics have eagerly seized on the case as further proof of its decadence. At least 362 serving military officers are being held in a separate case called “Ergenekon” on charges of seeking to overthrow the government of the Justice and Development Party (AK). The army, NATO’s second largest, has toppled four governments so far. In 2007 it threatened to do so again when the AK nominated Abdullah Gul as president. The fact that Mrs Gul covers her head was deemed by the generals to pose a threat to Ataturk’s republic. AK refused to budge, Mr Gul was duly elected and the army’s hold has been weakening ever since.

Yet even the generals’ fiercest detractors are beginning to worry that efforts to bring them under civilian control may be degenerating into a vendetta. Western observers agree that, although the army almost certainly contains coup-plotters, overzealous investigators may have doctored some of the evidence against officers and that innocents are being caught in their net. Paradoxically prosecutors have shown little interest in well-documented atrocities committed by the army during its scorched-earth campaign against Kurdish separatist rebels. Ihsan Tezel, a defence lawyer in the “escort girls” affair, insists that the prosecution’s case rests exclusively on the contents of the hard drive of a computer seized from the home of a businessman who is accused of being one of the ringleaders of the gang.

Another ongoing sex-for-secrets case brought against 54 officers in Istanbul has run into trouble. At a recent hearing, a 52-year-old woman named as one of the prostitutes broke down in tears as she produced a medical certificate proving that she was a virgin. And there is no evidence to suggest that the defendants were selling secret documents. The presiding judge has called for all of them to be acquitted. A final verdict is expected by the end of July.

Gareth Jenkins, an expert on the Turkish army, says that the barrage of cases has had a devastating impact on army morale. “How can they function effectively when they live in constant fear of being arrested?” he asks. Amid Turkish threats of retaliation against Syria, the question is growing more pertinent by the day.