Qatar buys coast guard boats from Antalya’s Ares

ares75Turkey and Qatar strengthened their relations in a recent agreement in which Qatar’s coast guard pledged to purchase 17 high-speed boats from Antalya-based Ares Shipyard Ltd.

The agreement was signed March 26th at the fourth Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference. According to the deal, Qatar will buy two 46-metre vessels, 10 33-metre vessels and five 23-metre boats.

“We can say that the contract is the biggest one for the military ships category in the region,” said Kerim Kalafatoglu, managing director of Ares Shipyard.

Ares Business Development Manager Stephen Layton told Southeast European Times (SETimes) that the deal will create a number of jobs at the company.

Ares will be adapting designs of its existing boats to meet Qatar’s specifications and plans to deliver them within 56 months, he said.

Relations between Qatar and Turkey, which have become among the most stable in the Middle East, improved even further with the latest agreement, analysts told SETimes.

“This is a very significant achievement for Turkey’s defence sector,” said Maj. Gen. Armagan Kuloglu, who is retired from the Turkish armed forces.

Kuloglu told SETimes that the agreement would not only boost bilateral relations but also would open the doors to co-operation between Turkey and other countries in the region.

“Qatar’s order could be an example for other Gulf countries to give similar orders to Turkey,” he said.

Saban Kardas, the director of Ankara-based think tank Centre for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM), said, “We have been witnessing very close co-operation of the two countries in many areas for a long time.”

Ankara and Doha have pursued similar policies regarding international matters, particularly in the conflicts in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and they followed joint conciliation efforts for the settlement of regional disputes, he said.

During the Arab Spring the two countries shared a similar point of view and acted together, Kardas said.

In addition to their co-operation in the international arena, Qatar takes the lead among other Gulf countries in developing economic and military relations with Turkey, Kuloglu said.

“Military Electronic Industries (Aselsan) and software and systems company Informatics and System House of Turkey (Havelsan) both have been working on joint projects in military software field,” Kuloglu said.

Kardas said the agreement between Turkey and Qatar should improve military relations.

“When a country buys a military system from abroad, it is inevitable that it would take trainings and participate in joint military exercises with that country,” he said.

Improved Turkey-Qatar relations

In a statement posted to its website, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said that “significant progress has been achieved in recent years with regards to the relations between Turkey and Qatar”.

Between 2008 and 2011, high-level visits between the two countries intensified, the ministry said.

“These visits have deepened and further developed the bilateral relations,” the statement said, adding that economically, Turkey has made it a priority to attract foreign investment and capital from Qatar.

In February, Qatar Minister of Economy and Trade Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani said Qatari-Turkish ties are witnessing a major boom.

Growth in bilateral relations increased trade volume between the two countries to nearly $1 billion in 2013, he said at the conclusion of a Doha meeting of the Qatari-Turkish Committee for Economic and Technical Co-operation.

Conference specifics

The Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference drew representatives from 25 prominent Turkish firms, including Aselsan, Havelsan, Roketsan, Turkish Aerospace Industries, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, and Middle East Technical University.

Participants exhibited a variety of military products: tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles, specialised textiles, armaments and munitions, missiles and rocketry, advanced defence electronics, and products in the aerospace technology and naval shipbuilding fields.

Al-shorfa

US internal politics hinder arming of key allies

A number of foreign navies are eager to acquire ex-US Navy frigates, but politics is preventing some allies, like Turkey, from receiving any more. Here, the Turkish frigate Gelibolu, ex-USS Reid, approaches Doha, Qatar, on March 24.
A number of foreign navies are eager to acquire ex-US Navy frigates, but politics is preventing some allies, like Turkey, from receiving any more. Here, the Turkish frigate Gelibolu, ex-USS Reid, approaches Doha, Qatar, on March 24.

The US Navy’s frigate force is rapidly shrinking as the 1980s-era ships are taken out of service. The Navy wants to transfer the ships to friendly nations for further service, and several nations are eager to have them.

But in recent years, congressional politics have made some of the proposed moves overly controversial, and measures to approve the transfers have run afoul of partisan politics, particularly where Turkey and Pakistan are concerned.

But on April 7, the House passed a bill approving the transfer of eight frigates — four to Taiwan, two to Thailand and two to Mexico. Two of the ships named in the bill already have left service, with the other six set to leave the US fleet in 2015.

The bill now lies with the Senate, where it might have come to a vote before the body adjourned for a two-week recess. As of April 10, however, it appeared the opportunity for quick action would pass, leaving the measure to be taken up at a later date.

The House-sponsored bill eliminated a Senate bill introduced in November that included the same ships, plus three more for Pakistan — along with a series of conditions that country has recoiled from meeting.

Forces in the Senate have balked as well at providing Pakistan with the ships, and a hold — reportedly from Sen. Rand Paul R-Ky., — has been placed on the bill.

Similar squabbles led to another frigate transfer bill dying with the previous Congress. That bill would have provided more frigates for Turkey, which already operates eight ex-US frigates.

The latest House bill avoids those questions and centers the move on Taiwan.

“The transfer to Taiwan of retired US Navy frigates is an important part of the US commitment to Taiwan’s security,” Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “The administration and Congress must continue to find ways to enhance Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities.”

The bill would only approve a ship’s transfer should the specified nation and the US reach agreement. It does not indicate such a move is a done deal.

DefenseNews

Saab fights to return sub maker to Sweden

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, formerly Kockums, is developing Sweden's A26 next-generation submarine. Sweden may support a drive to put the shipyard back in Swedish hands by backing a takeover bid by Saab. (ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems)
ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, formerly Kockums, is developing Sweden’s A26 next-generation submarine. Sweden may support a drive to put the shipyard back in Swedish hands by backing a takeover bid by Saab. (ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems)

Sweden — three years after selling its national submarine-maker Kockums to Germany’s ThyssenKrupp — is now fighting to wrest control of its indigenous sub-building capability from the German giant.

The clearest sign of deteriorating relations between Sweden and ThyssenKrupp emerged on Feb. 27, when Sweden’s defense procurement agency FMV announced that it had allocated $3.84 million to investigate Saab’s ability to design and produce Sweden’s next generation submarine.

The move drove speculation that Sweden might support a bid by Saab to take over Kockums, now called ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), which would put ownership back in Sweden.

Swedish Defense Ministry officials expressed disappointment and concern over the lack of guarantees provided by ThyssenKrupp covering commitments to maintain TKMS as a large-vessel producer. More specifically, Swedish officials claim that ThyssenKrupp has still not provided a fixed price for the delivery of two new A26 generation subs and mid-life upgrades to the Navy’s Gotland-class submarines.

The emergence of Saab as a potential builder of the A26 submarine has cast doubt over TKMS’ role in the Navy’s submarine modernization project. TKMS secured the contract to design the A26 in 2010, and provisional costs were included in Sweden’s defense budget for that year.

Management and unions at TKMS’ Malmo-based shipyard warn that the prevailing uncertainty could result in the closure of the country’s only submarine construction facility should the company fail to obtain the A26 and Gotland-class construction and modernization contracts.

Fears relating to the possible loss of contracts has extended to the Malmo shipyard’s 1,000 unionized workers, who are also facing a reorganization of operations, with ThyssenKrupp reported to be planning to designate Malmo as its industrial hub for small-sized subs and surface vessels up to 1,000 tons, a prospect that has also further hurt relations with Swedish authorities given that the A26 and Gotland-class subs have a displacement of around 1,900 tons.

The lack of a fixed price from ThyssenKrupp regarding the A26 and the Gotland-class submarine programs means that to proceed to the build stage would be neither practical, sustainable or the best use of funds in respect of the armed forces or taxpayer’s money, said FMV spokesperson Louise Wileen Bjarke.

Saab, which maintains that it could quickly create the capacity needed to build and modernize submarines, has declined to comment on market reports that it is engaged in exploratory talks that could see it takeover TKMS’ operations from ThyssenKrupp.

Sweden’s MoD, the FMV and ThyssenKrupp also declined to comment on a possible state-support acquisition push.

ThyssenKrupp, through its subsidiary Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), acquired the then-Kockums Naval Systems business from Swedish industrial Celsius AB in 1999. HDW later became part of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.

The divestment placed Sweden’s submarine production capability under foreign ownership.

Along with Saab’s fighter production capability, submarine warfare represented the two biggest strands of Sweden’s indigenous defense industry.

DefenseNews

Turkey weighs NATO access to Black Sea

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

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

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

Turkey’s Power Over The Straights

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

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

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

Turkey to arm Seahawk with naval UMTAS

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

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

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

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

 

Milgem, Anka attract Brazil’s Interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TZ

Egypt cancels military exercise with Turkey

Egypt has cancelled a joint naval exercise with Turkey, the Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The two countries had been scheduled to conduct the exercise, dubbed ‘Sea of Friendship 2011,’ from October 21 to 28.

The move came one day after the Foreign Ministry announced that it had summoned the Egyptian ambassador in Ankara for consultations.

The announcement came shortly after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had summoned Turkish Ambassador to Egypt Huseyin Avni Botsali to Ankara for consultations on recent developments in Egypt.

WB

Roketsan joins international submarine-launched missile program

German missile house Diehl Defence (Hall 2c B355) is proposing the GILA (guided intelligent light armament) weapon to the German ministry of defense as a potential weapon to arm the Eurocopter Tiger. The weapon is an adaptation of Elbit’s GATR (guided advanced tactical rocket), which fits a laser guidance package to a 68mm or 70mm rocket. GATR has recently been awarded a demonstration contract by U.S. Special Operations Command.

Diehl is also proposing an innovative use for older AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles that have been replaced in the air-to-air role by weapons such as the Diehl’s own IRIS-T. The LaGS (laser-guided Sidewinder) replaces the air-to-air infrared seeker with a semi-active laser seeker, allowing the missile to be targeted with great precision against ground targets. Thus, older missiles can be reworked to provide a low-cost, low-collateral damage precision-attack option.

Arguably Diehl’s most interesting program, however, is the IDAS (interactive defense and attack system), which is based on the IRIS-T weapon but has been tailored for firing from the torpedo tubes of a submarine. It is intended for use against both surface and air targets.

Developed in conjunction with shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp and Norway’s Kongsberg, IDAS is intended primarily for use with the German 212A-class submarine. Due to budget cuts it was removed from the German MoD’s plans, but Diehl and its partners have continued development using their own funds up to the point where the technologies involved have been de-risked. An IDAS prototype began underwater firing tests in 2006, leading to a launch from a 212A submarine in 2008.

When the risk-reduction phase is complete, IDAS will be offered again to the German navy and also to other nations. Norway has signaled interest in the project, and now Turkey’s Roketsan has agreed to join the program. “We strongly believe that this is one of the weapon systems that can change submarine warfare dramatically,” said Diehl Defence CEO Claus Günther. “It allows a submarine to perform tasks that currently you need a surface vessel for.”

Concerning other systems, Diehl reports that the Swedish air force has become the launch customer for the surface-launched IRIS-T SL anti-air weapon. Sweden’s air defense system will use the standard IRIS-T SLS missiles for short-range interceptions (it already employs IRIS-Ts on its Gripen fighters). The longer-ranged IRIS-T SLM with additional rocket booster stage can also be fired from the same launcher.

AIN Online

TN to receive new-generation maritime patrol planes

Finmeccanica company Alenia Aermacchi is to supply eight new-generation ATR 72-600 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft to the Turkish Navy under a contract amendment signed with Turkey’s Defence Industries Undersecratariat (SSM) at IDEF 2013 in Istanbul on 8 May.

The agreement – which is an amendment to a contract signed in 2005 for the supply of 10 ATR 72-500s – will see the delivery of two platforms configured as Turkish Maritime Utility Aircraft for personnel and cargo transport and six platforms configured as Turkish Maritime Patrol Aircraft (TMPAs) to fulfil Turkey’s maritime patrol requirements.

|The new -600 version of the ATR 72 replaces the now out of production ATR 72-500. Key features include a ‘glass’ cockpit and more powerful engines, which will provide better performance and long-term serviceability, according to the company.

Modification of the two ATR 72-600s is already well under way at Alenia’s plant in Naples-Capodichino, with delivery to the Turkish Navy set for June and July 2013.

Meanwhile, Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI) has started conversion work on the first of the six ATR 72-600s at its Akinci facility following its delivery in April.

TCSG “Dost” and TCSG “Umut” were delivered to Turkish Coast Guard

Turkish Coast Guard Search and Rescue Vessels.TCSG 701 “Dost” and TCSG 703 “Umut” were delivered to Turkish Coast Guard.on April 5. Deputy Minister of National Defence Mr. Hasan Kemal Yardımcı, Undersecretary of Defence Industries Mr.Murad Bayar, Turkish Coast Guard Commander General Hasan Uşaklıoğlu, senior bureaucrats from SSM and representatives of the sector attended the ceremony held at RMK Marine Tuzla facilities.