On Thursday, Turkish Gendarmerie officer, who tipped off the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks for allegedly carrying ammunition inside Syria, has been arrested.
According to the statement by the public prosecutor of Adana, the noncommissioned officer identified only by the initials H.A. faces charges of “obtaining and revealing information that was supposed to be kept secret for the safety of the state.”
The trucks were stopped by gendarmerie teams in Turkey’s southeastern province of Hatay on January 1, 2014 despite a national security law forbidding such acts.
The Turkish Interior Ministry had said the trucks were carrying humanitarian aid for the Turkmen community in Syria.
The prosecutor and security officers who ordered the stopping of the trucks were later removed from their posts.
Turkey’s parliament has approved a bill that increases the powers and immunities of the country’s spy agency. It’s the latest in a string of moves critics say is undermining democracy in the country that is a candidate to join the European Union.
The bill, approved Thursday, would give Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency the ability to launch covert operations and increased capacity to keep tabs on citizens. It would also introduce prison terms for the publication of secret documents.
The government insists the overhaul will make the agency more efficient and allow it to meet “new security and foreign policy needs.”
Opposition parties say the bill grants the agency far reaching powers and will turn Turkey into a surveillance state. It has vowed to seek its cancellation at Turkey’s highest court.
The revelations of an alleged telephone conversation between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his son allegedly proving their graft has raised questions about the reliability of the country’s scientific watchdog, as it is responsible for providing encrypted telephones for senior state and government officials.
“It is very interesting; they even tap the state’s cryptic phones from [the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey – TÜBİTAK]. A president cannot speak with a prime minister without being wiretapped at an instant,” Erdoğan said Feb. 25, while arguing that the scandal justified the recent bills that gave more control to the government over the Internet and the intelligence agency and announcing similar measures for TÜBİTAK.
Now, according to the results of an examination launched at the watchdog, the state’s top auditing body may also step in. Upon an order by Science, Industry and Technology Minister Fikri Işık, a wide examination at the institution has been launched, with an expert team assigned the task. The examination has been extended to both the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) and the Communication Technologies Institution (BTK).
After wiretapping bugs were found in Erdoğan’s office in late December 2011, the Center of Research for Advanced Technologies of Informatics and Security (BİLGEM), working under TÜBİTAK, developed encrypted telephones in 2012. Those phones were tested by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) before being distributed to senior state and government officials, with MİT saying in a report they could not be wiretapped.
However, the codes to cipher the telephones were allegedly leaked, facilitating wiretapping.
Encrypted telephones use different algorithms for ciphering signals, so it is impossible to wiretap them, officials said. “Wiretapping is possible only if codes are leaked,” an official said.
It has been suggested that may be the reason why Erdoğan drew attention to the alleged responsibility of TÜBİTAK in the affair.
Five personnel working at TÜBİTAK were suspended at the outset of the investigation.
“Claims are being examined with all aspects and there may be suspensions at the senior level of TÜBİTAK at the end of the investigation,” an official from the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology said.
The five have already been banned from entering the institution. Depending on the results of the investigation, the State Audit Board (DDK), working under the Presidency and the Prime Ministry Inspection Board, may also intervene in the incident.
In his same speech on Feb. 25 which was delivered after the posting of an 11-minute recording on YouTube on Feb. 24, Erdoğan said: “We will bring legal action against these [wiretapping] activities. If we let it go on, there will be no privacy for families nor for the state in this country.” The video has been watched close to 4 million times in 48 hours.
Also on Feb. 24, reports of widespread wiretapping were published by two pro-government newspapers, prompting Erdoğan to describe it as “the biggest eavesdropping scandal in Turkish history.”
According to reports, hundreds of people, including the prime minister, his closest associates, the head of MİT, as well as a number of journalists, scholars and business leaders, have been tapped by prosecutors.
Though embattled by recent corruption scandals, the Turkish government continues to reshape the civilian-military balance in procurement decisions, proposing to extend the terms of commanders it deems “government-friendly.”
A draft bill proposed to Parliament Jan. 21 empowers Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to extend the terms of top brass. It states that the terms of the commanders of the Land Forces, Navy and Air Force may be extended “upon recommendation by the chief of General Staff and endorsement by the prime minister.”
If passed, the bill could keep the incumbents in office until 2016-’17 (depending on the commander’s retirement age), including Army Gen. Necdet Ozel, chief of the General Staff.
Experts and industry sources agreed that an annual reshuffle in August underscored a visible shift in power from the generals to civilians in controlling defense procurement.
They said the new command structure featured generals who would fully respect the government’s authority in procurement and politics, agreeing to retreat to a minimal role in specifying requirements and choosing bidders.
The Supreme Military Council, which is led by Erdogan and decides on promotions and retirements of top military officers, announced in August the unexpected retirement of the country’s paramilitary gendarmarie force commander, Gen. Bekir Kalyoncu, who had been the leading candidate to take over Land Forces. Kalyoncu was viewed as a government critic.
Instead, Gen. Hulusi Akar was given the job and, according to custom, would be expected to replace Ozel as armed forces chief in 2015. But under the new law, he could remain longer.
In the same reshuffle, Vice Adm. Bulent Bostanoglu was appointed commander of the Navy, Lt. Gen. Akin Ozturk as head of the Air Force, and Gen. Servet Yoruk as commander of the gendarmarie.
“The government and military wings of the procurement mechanism have been working in perfect harmony and coordination,” a senior procurement official said Jan. 27. The official would not comment on the draft bill.
In the 1990s, the generals had the upper hand in procurement decisions. Since Erdogan rose to power in 2002 and subsequently won three landslide election victories, the military’s role in politics and procurement has diminished.
“The draft bill clearly indicates Erdogan’s intentions to maintain the favorable procurement [and political] equilibrium in which he feels safe and can run his one-man show,” one London-based Turkey specialist said.
A senior Turkish military officer declined to comment.
In October 2012, Erdogan’s government introduced new rules to regulate procurement and broaden the jurisdiction and administrative powers of the civilian procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM). Under the new rules, a program takes off when a military request for a weapon system has been approved by the SSM and the defense minister.
The SSM is solely responsible for determining the ideal modality for every procurement program. It also can buy from a single source when it deems necessary due to “national interest, confidentiality, monopoly of technological capabilities and meeting urgent requirements.”
Analysts said the new rules, coupled with the profile of the incumbent top brass, means the “one-man show in procurement in the powerful personality of the prime minister would be bolstered.”
“That’s precisely why Erdogan wants to have the current commanders in office longer than they could stay under the present regulations,” said one defense expert here.
Several programs and contracts spanning the next few years and amounting to billions of dollars await critical decisions.
Turkey will decide in about a year whether to stick by a September award of a $3.44 billion contract to China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. to build Turkey’s first long-range air and anti-missile defense architecture.
Turkey has come under increasing pressure from its NATO allies, especially the US, to change course. The Chinese contractor is on a US sanctions list as part of the Iran, Syria and North Korea Non-Proliferation Act. Turkey has said it would turn to European and US bidders if talks with the Chinese contender fail.
Under Erdogan, the procurement bureaucracy also will decide whether to sign an $800 million contract with Sedef, an Istanbul shipyard partnered with Spain’s Navantia to build Turkey’s first landing platform dock ship; select another shipyard to construct four Milgem corvettes; decide whether to sign a multibillion-dollar deal with Sikorsky to buy utility helicopters; pick up a serial production contractor for the locally developed Altay new-generation main battle tank; and decide on Turkey’s future in the US-led F-35 program.
Much has been made about the presence of Russian troops —including what appear to be special forces units— in southern Ukraine. But peace and stability in the region are not threatened only by the actions of foreign troops; they are also threatened by the attitude of the armed forces of Ukraine, whose stance is likely to determine the outcome of the current crisis. The government of Ukraine has called all military reservists in the country to mobilize in order to “ensure the security and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. But what guarantee is there that the Ukrainian armed forces will remain united while the country is splitting in two —or three, counting the Tatars? At least 20 percent of Ukraine’s citizens consider themselves ethnically Russian, and there is little reason to believe that the ranks of the Ukrainian military, which reflect the ethnic makeup of the country’s divided population, will prove immune to rapidly intensifying sectarian tensions. Already Russian news outlets report that “the majority” of Ukrainian armed forces personnel stationed in Crimea have “switched to the side of local authorities” of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. The secessionist government’s Deputy Prime Minister, Rustam Temirgaliev, said on Sunday that the Ukrainian armed forces in the breakaway region “have all but surrendered” and that many “are expected to take military oath soon”, declaring their allegiance to the Crimean Republic. Presumably these are ethnic Russians who are abandoning the Ukrainian military and joining that of the secessionist movement in Crimea out of nationalist allegiance.
On Sunday afternoon, news agencies reported that Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky, who was appointed head of Ukraine’s Navy on Friday, had voluntarily defected to the ethnic Russian side. Russian media aired video footage of Berezovsky pledging his allegiance “to the people of Crimea”. The Admiral’s defection, which occurred on only his second day on the job as commander of the Ukrainian Navy, prompted Crimea’s secessionist Prime Minster, Sergey Aksyonov, to announce the official creation of “Crimea’s Navy”, consisting of ships that have defected from Ukraine. One such ship appears to be the Hetman Sahaidachny, a frigate that was until recently in the Gulf of Aden, participating in a Western-led counter-piracy operation. On Sunday, as the frigate was returning to the Black Sea, its captain, Rear Admiral Andrey Tarasov, announced his intentions to disobey all orders from Kiev, while submitting himself to the authority of the Crimean government.
Gangs of rival protesters clashing in the streets of Kiev, Kharkov, and other Ukrainian cities, with stones and baseball bats is one thing. But if the Ukrainian armed forces split along ethnic lines, then civil war will become unavoidable. Under such a scenario, Russian and the West will in all likelihood be unable to prevent an armed conflict that will irreparably undermine the collective security of the entire Eurasian region.
Turkey’s intelligence service has launched a comprehensive investigation to uncover foreign links in the three-week-long Gezi Park protests, upon the government’s instruction.
“Different units of MİT [National Intelligence Service] are working on different aspects of this movement. The outcome of this work will be submitted to the government,” a senior security official said.
Although the protests erupted following a harsh police intervention against a handful environment activists protecting the trees in Gezi Park, at the heart of Istanbul’s Taksim Square, the government believes the mass uprising was a plot against Turkey, in which some foreign powers and international financial institutions played a crucial role. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other top government official have also said they have evidence of this.
MİT’s different units have started to work to find international links to the plot, officials confirmed. “Any incident like this, with this magnitude, is of course under investigation. Our organization is working on this,” they said.
‘Natural for intelligence’
The incident has many dimensions, including security and keeping public order, officials said, adding, “It’s only natural for MİT to come up with its own findings. They would surely be shared with the government.”
A pro-government newspaper, Yeni Şafak, reported a scenario focusing on a possible revolt in Istanbul being discussed at a meeting held at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in February. Government officials have credited such scenarios, adding that the purpose was to slow down the economic and political rise of Turkey. They have also claimed that international media played a part in this plot by agitating the protests through one-sided broadcasting and publications.
The Foreign Ministry has also started research on how these incidents have been conveyed in other countries. “I demanded a report detailing which efforts these countries took to create a perception against Turkey, which instruments were used in this process, what our embassies did and what were our citizens’ reactions,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said.
The initial findings of the probes conducted by MİT, the Foreign Ministry and other state institutions will be discussed at large at the National Security Council (MGK) meeting slated for June 25. Interior Minister Muammer Güler is expected to brief the council on the protests.
Sikorsky is still yet to sign a contract with Turkey for the license-manufacture of 109 T-70i Black Hawk helicopters, more than two years after the airframe was formally selected for the Turkish Utility Helicopter Programme.
In an instructive example of the pitfalls of doing business with a country that wants to maximise its domestic work-share, negotiations between Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) and Sikorsky for a contract are only now gathering pace.
Sikorsky was originally announced as preferred bidder for the contract with a derivative of the Black Hawk helicopter at the end of April 2011.
However, a MoU setting out the broad terms and conditions of the agreement was only recently signed between the two organisations, and the final terms and conditions are now being resolved.
Speaking to Shephard at the IDEF exhibition in Istanbul, a Sikorsky spokesman said despite the protracted negotiations, the company felt that contract award was ‘close’.
As well as heavily involving Turkish industry in the manufacture of the helicopters for the Turkish military and government agencies, Sikorsky has committed to buying Turkish-produced S-70i helicopters on a ‘one-for-one’ basis for export.
‘The larger issues have been resolved and we are working on the final terms of conditions of the contract,’ the spokesman said on 7 May.
As if to reinforce his optimism, the SSM released a statement the same day stating it ‘intended to finalise the negotiations that will result in a contract award to build Black Hawk utility helicopters in Turkey’.
‘Estimated at $3.5 billion, the total programme value to Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), as the prime contractor, is inclusive of work to be performed by Sikorsky and other programme partners,’ the statement said.
Aircraft components such as blades, the cabin and the cockpit will be manufactured and aircraft will be assembled in Turkey by TAI. The avionics suite is being designed by Aselsan; the engine will be manufactured by TEI under the license of GE; while the landing gear and transmission will be manufactured by ALP Aviation, which is 50% owned by Sikorsky.
Under Sikorsky’s original industrial plan for the programme, the Aselsan avionics package, which features four 8×10 inch multi-function displays, a new man-machine interface and modern software architecture, will be the baseline suite for all S-70i aircraft following its certification.
The Aselsan cockpit is not now expected to be ready until 2017-2018, raising questions over whether the project will be delayed further awaiting its integration.
Turkey has a vibrant and increasingly capable defence industry that is determined to boost its export earnings up to $2 billion a year, a goal that the Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporters Association says is well within reach.
Broadly based and innovative, its products include aircraft, land vehicles, warships, weapon systems ranging from small arms to guided missiles, C4ISR systems, RF and EO and electronic warfare systems. Other efforts are focused on logistics and support systems and services. A large home market and government policy to build a rounded indigenous industry underpins all of them.
Evolution in the country’s defence procurement has progressed in four distinct stages. Before 1990, the policy for major platforms and weapon systems was essentially one of direct procurement. The next decade focused on coproduction of systems, such as armoured combat vehicles, light transport aircraft, the COUGAR battlefield helicopter, mobile radar systems and High Frequency Single Side Band (HF SSB) radios. The first decade of the 21st Century saw growing confidence manifest itself in local design of big-ticket items such as the ALTAY MBT, the MILGEM National Corvette, the ANKA MALE UAV, and the HURKUS training aircraft.
Under the guidance of the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM), the industry today is also engaged in several other ambitious development programmes including the NEB bunker buster bomb, the TOROS truck based rocket artillery system, the GÖKTÜRK reconnaissance and surveillance satellite, the 105mm air transportable light towed howitzer project, the GPS/INS based HGK guidance kit for 2,000lbs bombs, the KGK wing adapter kit for long range smart bombs, plus smaller yet still vital items, such as thermal batteries for munitions.
Projects under contract to the SSM for the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) has grown over the last decade or so from $5,448 billion to $25,397 billion in 2012, although it peaked at around $27 billion in 2011. The total turnover of the defence and aviation sectors has grown strongly from around $1,855 billion in 2006 to $4,381 billion in 2011.
Growing Local Content
Local content in TAF projects is also growing steadily from 25% in 2003 to 54% in 2011, which is the last year for which the SSM has released figures. Alongside this figure, possibly not coincidentally, defence and aviation exports have grown from $331 million to $1.09 billion over the same period.
Today, co-production dominates the SSM project budget, taking 53%, while development takes 27%. Direct procurements still take a substantial share at 11%, engagement with international consortia taking 8% and R&D one percent. Major co-production projects include several F-16 efforts and the T129 attack helicopter programme, in which Turkish weapons and avionics will be integrated into the AgustaWestland A129 MANGUSTA airframe.
Turkish Land Systems Innovation
Turkey’s armoured vehicle sector is particularly strong, with four companies able to design, develop, produce, test and qualify them. These companies, Otokar, FNSS, BMC, and Nurol, dominate the home military and security vehicle market.
ALTAY and MBT Upgrades
SSM’s biggest development project is the ALTAY MBT. The Turkish government describes ALTAY as a “Generation 3 Plus” MBT. The programme was launched in 2008 with Otokar as prime contractor. The conceptual design was completed and approved by the SSM in September of 2010, giving the green light to the detailed design phase. ALTAY has successfully come through its critical design review and two prototypes have been built, the first having completed its mobility trials and the second now undergoing firepower testing, with two more set to be produced during 2013 for qualification testing. The declared budget for these stages, according to the SSM, is $500 million.
Levent Senel, Head of SSM’s Land Platforms Department, said in February that the tank will be ready for serial production by 2015, but that is not anticipated to begin until 2017 or 2018. Plans call for an initial production run of 250, which may be increased.
ALTAY ticks all the boxes to be a thoroughly modern MBT in the western idiom, its four-person crew dictated by the choice of manual loading for the 120mm L55 smoothbore main gun, which occupies an electrically driven turret. This weapon is one of the vehicle’s technological imports, the know-how having been transferred from Korea’s Hyundai Rotem, although the gun that arms the ROK’s K2 has an autoloader, reducing that MBT’s crew to three. Drawing on Russian practice, however, the gun can be used as a launcher for laser guided missiles.
The new-generation fire control system, with hunter/killer functionality, plus the C3 systems are designed and built by Aselsan. Integrated with it will be a battlefield target identification system.
Supplementing the main armament will be a Remotely Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS) able to mount both 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine guns, in addition to the 7.62mm coaxial machine gun.
The first production ALTAYs will be fitted with a 1,500hp engine from MTU coupled to a transmission from Renk, but later vehicles are slated to receive a 1,800hp diesel designed and manufactured in Turkey. Automotive R&D organization OTAM, which is associated with Istanbul University, is responsible for design studies intended to lead to the first prototype ‘national tank engine’ and is working with other R&D entities and with Turkish engine manufacturers. ALTAY also has that other modern tank essential – an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU).
Better known for its rocket and missile expertise, Roketsan is responsible for ALTAY’s modular composite armour package, which it is developing in its Ballistic Protection Center, the focus of its armour systems infrastructure personnel. The company has expertise in light and heavy composite armour for vehicles, ceramic and hybrid armour, design, development and production facilities for reactive armour and ballistic testing.
A laser warning system, standard on all modern MBTs, will be one contributor to a 360° situational awareness system that will include front and rear thermal and day TV cameras for the driver, who also gets an integrated display.
Helping protect the crew in the event that the tank takes a hit, is a combined fire extinguishing and explosion suppression system, with the life support system combining air conditioning with CBRN protection.
New Wheeled AFVs
As well as new and upgraded MBTs, Otokar also develops wheeled armoured vehicles, a sector in which it competes with both FNSS and Nurol.
Otokar and FNSS go head-to-head in the large 6×6 and 8×8 sectors with their respective and directly comparable ARMA and PARS vehicles, both of which are offered in both configurations and both have combat weights (for the 6×6 versions) between 18 and 18.5 tonnes. Nurol competes with both in the 6×6 sector and has had considerable success in the export market with its EJDER.
Otokar’s ARMA is a multi-purpose wheeled armoured vehicle designed to be flexible enough to be used with a variety of mission equipment and weapon systems. The FNSS PARS 8×8 AFV was shown for the first time in February 2005 during IDEX. As well as meeting the Turkish Land Forces Command (TLFC) requirements for a wheeled APC, the PARS family of wheeled AFV is also being aimed at the export market. In 2010, FNSS has signed an LoI for Malaysia’s 8×8 Armoured Vehicles Programme for 8×8 PARS vehicles to be manufactured locally in Malaysia. The total weight of the Pars vehicle depends on the weapon fit, crew and armour package. The 8×8 model has a typical combat weight of 25 tonnes. According to FNSS, the PARS is a new family of wheeled AFVs that incorporates numerous advanced, unique features. As the vehicle has an open electronics architecture, it is claimed that inserting new technology can be achieved more easily as it becomes available. The baseline 8 × 8 Pars vehicle has a hull consisting of a composite aluminum and steel armour that provides the occupants with protection from 7.62 mm armour-piercing attack through a full 360°. Higher levels of protection are available if required, using an appliqué armour package.
Innovation and R&D
Otokar displayed some of its expanding range of vehicles at February’s IDEX event in Abu Dhabi, where the company’s General Manager Serdar Gorguc emphasised, “R&D is one of our most important assets. Today Otokar is in leading position in designing and producing armoured combat vehicles and in due course making significant investments on the R&D studies. Reinvesting 5% of our turnover on R&D activities is the actual assurance of Otokar commitments in developing new vehicles.“
FNSS’ PARS 6×6 has a mid-mounted 482hp diesel engine driving three axles through an automatic transmission. The first and third axles are steerable. Suspension is independent all round and can use either hydraulic or air shock absorbers.
All PARS variants feature a removable roof to facilitate different equipment fits for role changes. Other features include a hydraulic rear ramp, water jets to clean the wheels and tires of possible CBRN contamination, central tire inflation, an IR suppressing exhaust cooling system, panoramic glass periscopes, a hydraulic trim vane for amphibious operations and a self-recovery winch and an APU.
Turkey’s third 6×6 armoured vehicle is Nurol’s EJDER, which is not operated by Turkey but has entered service in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Libya, Turkmenistan, and Zimbabwe.
Nurol emphasizes EJDER’s IED protection, saying that the vehicle protects its 12 occupants to NATO standards using real mines, crash test dummies and special test equipment. The vehicle can also accept modular add-on armour packages. Nurol also stresses internal ergonomics and space that enable soldiers to carry all the weapons and ammunition they need. All-wheel drive, independent suspension and a high power-to-weight ratio contribute to what the company claims is ‘superior’ off road performance, supplemented by the ability to enter water without needing preparation. EJDER can also be carried in a C-130, says Nurol.
Engineering vehicles FNSS also offers upgrades of the venerable M113 tracked armoured vehicle and is undertaking such a project for Saudi Arabia, as well as heavier specialist systems such as its Armoured Amphibious Assault Bridge (AAAB) and the Armoured Amphibious Combat Earth mover (AACE), a two-crew vehicle based on theM9 ACE.
The AAAB is a major SSM procurement project for 52 vehicles, half of which have been delivered with the other half set to be delivered this year. Offering ballistic protection (including transparent armour) and NBC protection for the crew compartment, each vehicle carries four ramps, removing the need for an additional ramp carrier vehicle.
In ferry mode, AAAB can be configured with two bays, enabling it to carry tracked vehicles with a NATO Military Load Capacity (MLC) rating of 70. It can also be configured with three bays, which allows it to carry wheeled vehicles with an MLC of up to 100. Two AAAB vehicles together can ferry an MBT. By linking 12 vehicles together, the system can create a 153.7 m bridge.
An 8×8 with all-wheel steering, it is also fitted with a crane and an emergency anchoring system and a self-recovery winch.
Otokar’s KAYA is a 10-seat V-hulled 4×4 based on a Mercedes UNIMOG chassis and offers a large internal volume to maximize mission flexibility. KAYA combines high levels of protection from mines and ballistic threats with high mobility and manoeuvrability over rough terrain and in extreme climates, aided by a CTIS and air conditioning. Otokar offers KAYA in APC, C2, reconnaissance, CBRN recce, medevac and maintenance support variants. KAYA is also available as a mine protected cargo carrier based on the UNIMOG 5000 chassis, which can carry 4.5t for a gross vehicle weight of 12.5 tonnes. Its Mercedes OM 924 LA diesel engine produces 218hp at 2,200rpm and 810nm of torque between 1,200 and 1,600rpm and drives through a Tiptronic electro-pneumatic gearbox to locking differentials on both axles, giving the MRAP a top speed that’s limited to 100kph.
Offered for the same set of missions as the KAYA, the larger KALE MRAP will seat up to 13 people and is powered by a 300hp diesel engine with automatic transmission. The suspension is independent and uses helical spring/shock absorber units.
Otokar’s MRAP designs draw on experience gained in the development and fielding of the COBRA multi-purpose light armoured vehicle, which has proved its worth in several conflict zones and is in service with around 20 users in more than 10 countries, according to SSM.
The other Turkish vehicle maker to enter the MRAP arena is BMC, a major supplier of tactical trucks, logistic support and special purpose vehicles to the Turkish Land Forces. The KIPRI is a 16t selectable 4×4 with seating for up to 13 people including the driver, commander, gunner and 10 fully armed soldiers. KIPRI’s 350hp Cummins diesel generates 1,550nm of torque at 1,400rpm through an automatic transmission and a transfer case that enables the driver to choose either two-wheel drive or four wheel drive and either high or low ranges. The axles incorporate planetary reduction gears and feature differential locks front and rear and are suspended on leaf springs and telescopic shocks. At combat weight, KIPRI will climb a 60% gradient and cope with a 30% side slope and offers a range of 800 km. The standard tactical specification includes a cold-start kit, blackout and camouflage lighting, rail transportability and a NATO standard towing hook, along with electrical and pneumatic connections for towing and being towed. Air conditioning with heating and cooling capability and a windscreen defroster are also standard. KIPRI also features a 360° rotating roof hatch that can support a machine gun mount. There is also a long list of options for KIPRI, which includes a self-recovery winch, ABS braking, a CTIS, run-flat tyres, GPS, a rear view camera, automatic fire suppression and a powered turret drive.
Guided weapons development is another key area for Turkey and one of its most ambitious projects is the air launched Stand Off Missile (SOM) under development by the Defence Industries Research and Development Institute (SAGE), itself part of TÜBITAK, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey.
SOM is a 600kg cruise missile with a low-observable airframe and a 230kg warhead conceived for use against heavily defended targets on land and at sea. A typical target set might include SAM sites, parked aircraft, command centres, aircraft hangars and shelters. With a stated range of more than 100nm, it outranges SAM systems and its guidance system incorporates GPS and inertial sensors with radar, terrain referenced navigation, and an imaging IR seeker plus automatic target recognition capability and selectable impact modes. The weapon has been integrated onto the F-16 and future plans call for JSF integration and compatibility with the NATO Universal Armaments Interface (UAI).
TÜBITAK SAGE is working with government owned MKEK and foreign partners on a deep penetration bomb known as NEB, an 870kg weapon with the same general external geometry as a Mk 84 general purpose bomb but containing a shaped-charge precursor warhead that makes a hole in a hardened target through which the main warhead passes before detonating about a second later. Compatible with GBU-10E/B systems, it can use laser guidance kits for these weapons, as well as SAGE’s own new HGK precision guidance kit, which uses GPS, probably combined with an inertial sensor, to provide a claimed accuracy of 6.3 metres. Plans called for NEB design studies to be complete by the first quarter of 2012.
While NEB is a specialised weapon for hardened and buried targets, the KGK is a winged guidance kit designed to transform 500lbs Mk 82 and 1,000lbs Mk 83 general purpose bombs into smart glide bombs. SAGE claims an accuracy of 10m from the GPS/INS guidance system and maximum ranges between 20nm when dropped from 10,000ft and 60nm from 30,000 feet. The impact angle can be set between 10° and 80° to maximize the weapon’s effect on the target. The maximum allowable flight speed is 600 knots.
Turkish National Sonar
In the naval sector, the first two MILGEM national corvettes have been built by the Navy itself and the Turkish government is now reported to be in negotiation with RMK Marine for the construction of the next six vessels, having apparently beaten the rival Dearsan shipyard to the $2.5 billion deal, according to a report on 05 January in the Turkish media.
The 2,300t corvettes have mission systems focused on ASW, and TÜBITAK has developed three key sonar system ‘wet end’ components. The TBT-01 transducer operates as an active/passive sensor over the 6-9kHz frequency range and as a passive sensor between 2-10kHz. The second major acoustic sensor is a ship-integrated sonar with a 288 element cylindrical array. The third system is national transducer cable.
TÜBITAK also built the infrastructure required to develop the technology in the form of the Marmara Research Centre Materials Institute’s Underwater Acoustic Laboratory. Opened officially on 14 March 2008, the UAL received accreditation from Germany’s DAP agency in April 2009. The UAL features a 15x10x7.5m test tank with a very accurate positioning system that can support sensors and arrays weighing up to 3,000kg.
Satellites and MALE UAVs
On 18 December GÖKTÜRK 2, a Turkish designed imaging reconnaissance satellite went into orbit successfully from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in China. The TÜBITAK-funded spacecraft’s declared purpose it both military reconnaissance and civil environmental monitoring.
From its Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of around 700km, the 409kg GÖKTÜRK 2 circles the Earth every 98 minutes approximately and can collect imagery from anywhere in the world, revisiting any site on average once every 2.5 days, according to Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), who designed, integrated and tested the satellite at its own facilities, carrying out bus assembly and integration, payload integration, mass property measurement, system level functional and thermal vacuum testing. The spacecraft’s sensors offer resolutions of 2.5m panchromatic and 5.0m multispectral. GÖKTÜRK 2’s planned operational life is five years.
Launch of the higher resolution GÖKTÜRK 1 spacecraft was scheduled for this year, but is reportedly subject to a delay of around a year as a result of a dispute with Israel, source of some sensor components.
GÖKTÜRK 1 is in development by prime contractor Telespazio following a 2009 contract between SSM and the Italian company. TAI is directly involved in work packages in Italy and France and is manufacturing some components in house.
On 25 January, the TAI-developed ANKA MALE UAS successfully completed its acceptance test campaign. This followed the final flights in the programme that took place between 20 and 22 January.
With a wingspan of 17.3m and a length of 8m, ANKA is powered by a 155hp heavy fuel engine to a service ceiling of 30,000ft with endurance of up to 24 hours. ANKA is intended for day and night, all-weather ISR missions carrying EO/IR cameras with laser designation and range finding capabilities plus SAR/ISAR/GMTI sensors. Growth potential includes SATCOM, SIGINT and communications relay payloads and the ability to send imagery and data to remote video terminals. Of the final two test flights, the first lasted more than 18 hours. TAI says that this flight successfully demonstrated the aircraft’s full endurance and the data link’s 200km range in wind speeds that reached 45 knots. The second and final flight test on 22 January demonstrated the night capability of its automatic take-off and landing system.
The acceptance campaign began in the last quarter of 2012 and encompassed about 130 different ground and flight tests, witnessed by SSM and Turkish Air Force representatives. ANKA first flew in December 2010 since when it has accumulated more than 140 flight hours.
TAI reports that contract negotiations are already underway with SSM for the production of an initial ten ANKA systems for the Air Force.
TAI also rolled out its HURKUS turboprop primary and basic training aircraft in June. The company is also working on the conceptual design of an advanced jet trainer and light fighter under a contract signed with SSM in August of 2011, while TAI’s helicopter group submitted its proposal to SSM for the ‘Indigenous Helicopter’, having been appointed prime contractor for the programme in 2010.
Without doubt, Turkey intends to be a major force in the defence industry and is making the investments needed to make desire into reality.
Turkey is testing blood samples taken from Syrian casualties brought over the border from fighting in recent days to determine whether they were victims of a chemical weapons attack, local government and health officials said on Wednesday.
The samples were sent to Turkey’s forensic medicine institute after several Syrians with breathing difficulties were brought to a Turkish hospital on Monday in the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province along the Syrian border.
“We are taking the necessary precautions as we have received unconfirmed information on the use of chemical weapons,” Reyhanli Mayor Huseyin Sanverdi told Reuters.
“So far I have not received confirmation from medical institutions but there is a possibility that the weapons were used and we have to act with caution in case,” he said.
Sanverdi said the hospital in Reyhanli had taken emergency measures on Monday following the claims but that those had now been lifted. He added that Monday’s patients had been brought from Idlib province in northern Syria.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday said there was evidence that chemical weapons had been used during Syria’s two year conflict, but that it was not yet known how the chemical weapons were used, when they were used and who used them.
Washington has long said it views the use of chemical weapons in Syria as a “red line”, but wary of the false intelligence that was used to justify the 2003 war in Iraq, it has said it wants proof before taking action.
Britain last week confirmed it had “limited but persuasive” information showing chemical weapons use in Syria, including sarin, evidence that the Foreign Office now says is “physiological” – from the bodies of chemical attack victims.
A Foreign Office spokesman said it was likely that Syria, and not the rebels, would be behind any such attack, and Britain added that it was working with the United Nations to harden up evidence of whether chemical weapons had been used.
Fighting in Syria, now entering its third year, has intensified in the last month with government forces attempting to roll back rebel advances. Some 70,000 people have now been killed in the civil war.
Each side has blamed the other for what they both said was a chemical attack in the city of Saraqeb in Idlib on Monday.
A senior Reyhanli health official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed Sanverdi’s statement, saying the hospital carried out “emergency plans from time to time”.
One hospital employee, who also declined to be named, described how the hospital had been sealed off into the night on Monday, with specialised emergency medical teams moving in to take over after 13 patients from Idlib were brought in.
“We were given special apparel but it was the emergency team which took care of those patients. Doctors suspected sarin or mustard gas because the patients had breathing difficulties,” the employee said.
Another hospital employee said staff were ordered to stay back while the team intervened.
“This cannot be without reason,” the second employee said.
Wassim Taha, a Syrian doctor from the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organisations which runs hospitals for the Syrian opposition, said the patients were washed at the border because doctors feared they had come into contact with a form of gas.
A second Syrian doctor, Ubada Alabrash, who helps treat Syrian patients at Reyhanli hospital, said they also suspected the patients had been victims of a chemical attack because those escorting them to the border had exhibited similar symptoms.
Alabrash said blood samples from the patients had been sent for tests but that they had not been given the results.
“I don’t think the Turkish government would hide the results from us, but I understand they must be careful with it because NATO and other international bodies are also involved in this issue,” he said.
“Now we are waiting for the blood test results from Ankara, we have asked to be informed. We can only say after the test results if chemical weapons were used or not.”