Aselsan and Roketsan work on national air defense

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

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

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

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

Daily Sabah

Turkey to acquire heavy lift airplane

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

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

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

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

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

Aselsan Reveals AKKOR Active Protection System for Armored Vehicles

AKKOR
Interceptor launcher for the AKKOR active protection system.

Turkish military electronics giant Aselsan has unveiled a new active protection system, dubbed AKKOR (short for Aktif Koruma) at the IDEF’15 international defense fair in Istanbul. The system is intended primarily to provide Turkey’s indigenous Altay tanks with a hard-kill self defense capability, but it can also be used aboard AIFVs, APCs and other armored vehicles.

AKKOR features an impressive reaction time of only 1/15th of a second, allowing it to effectively defend the host platform against rockets and missiles fired from a distance as close as 50 meters (164 feet). It consists of three main components: a central processing unit that functions as the brain of the whole system, four M-band radar sensors and, typically, two projectile launchers capable of firing four smart interceptors. Each radar sensor continuously scans a 100-degree arc, creating a full 360 degree detection capability with some overlap. AKKOR’s radar plates, in their current configuration, can detect incoming threats with an elevation of up to 75 degrees, but vehicles can be integrated with an additional sensor on the roof as well for protection against top-attack missiles such as the Javelin.

What sets AKKOR apart from its competition is its smart interceptor. Most other hard-kill active protection systems detect an incoming threat, calculate its trajectory, find out when it will arrive at a certain point in space, and then fire a bunch of projectiles, typically steel balls (like a shotgun pellets), toward that general direction hoping that at least one of the steel balls will hit the threat and destroy it before it can make contact with the host platform. This technique, while simple and efficient, doesn’t protect against the newer generation, variable-velocity rockets and missiles that are designed to trick an active protection system into firing too early or too late, and consequently missing.

AKKOR, on the other hand, goes one step further. First, just like a legacy active protection system, it detects a threat, calculates its trajectory and aims towards a point in its path to intercept it — within a deviation allowance of less than 1 degree. Then, instead of firing a swarm of steel balls like its competition, AKKOR launches a single smart interceptor with its own on-board sensor, jointly developed by TUBITAK SAGE, and a high explosive warhead. Once activated, the interceptor continuously measures the distance between itself and the incoming threat during its short flight, detonates the high explosive warhead when it determines that it’s closest to the threat and effectively destroys it, all within the span of about one to two seconds. This method ensures the highest hit probability and effectiveness against both older and the newest generation anti-tank rockets and missiles.

“We’ve begun AKKOR’s development back in 2008 and successfully demonstrated the core technology behind it in a prototype back in 2010.” an Aselsan engineer explained at IDEF’15. “At the time, AKKOR proved effective against a HAR-55 projectile, also known as the M72 LAW.”

Aselsan aims to finish the development of the AKKOR system in time to field it aboard Turkey’s Altay main battle tanks and other armored vehicles. A lighter version, dubbed AKKOR Lite, and a naval version, AKKOR Naval, are being designed for use aboard lighter vehicles and by the navy respectively.

Aselsan hopes to sign a contract in the second half of 2015 with Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, the SSM, for further field tests. Serial production is expected to start in 2017 so that the system be can made available for the country’s first batch of 250 Altay main battle tanks.

Turkish civilian firearm sales up 640%

Annual firearm sales to civilians in Turkey have increased by 639% since 1997, a report by Turkey’s Association for Defence Industry Manufacturers (SASAD) revealed. These figures cover only licensed, registered firearms, a statement underlined.

There are currently an estimated 28 million firearms in the hands of civilians in Turkey, of which only a little over 9 million are registered with the state.

This means that there are 35 firearms (12 registered) available for every 100 Turks.

The increase in sales over the last decade is mostly attributed to relaxed regulations that allow for easier access to weapons and larger availability of both domestically manufactured and foreign firearms. Turkish firearms sales by category for the year of 2013 were as follows: handguns 54%, rifles 27%, shotguns 15%, accessories & other 4%.

Cities with top sales in 2013 were Istanbul, Adana, Ankara, Trabzon, Bursa, Izmir, Diyarbakir, Samsun, Kocaeli and Gaziantep.

 

Turkey may scrap Chinese missile deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South China Morning Post

Turkey to place initial order for two F-35s

Chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a critical Defense Industry Executive Committee (DIEC) meeting today finally wrapped up Turkey’s long-awaited decision to place an order for 5th generation stealth F-35s.that will become the new front line fighter of the Turkish Air Force.

The decision was delayed last year with Turkish authorities citing “uncertainty of costs”. Turkey is expected to eventually order between 100 to 120 F-35s, some of which will replace Turkey’s ageing fleet of F-4 and F-16 aircraft.

Turkey hopes to use the F-35s in unison with its indigenous TF-X fighter planned for maiden flight in 2023, country’s centennial as a modern republic.

Continuing to expand Turkey’s spy satellite network was another significant decision from the meeting. Within the framework of this decision, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) will continue its design efforts for Gokturk-3, Turkey’s first indigenous SAR satellite, as well as other future satellites in the Gokturk series.

Turkey launched its first high-resolution reconnaissance satellite, Gokturk-2, to space from China’s Jiuquan launch facility in 2012. Construction of a second satellite by Italy’s Telespazio with even higher capabilities, Gokturk-1, is scheduled for launch in late 2014.

Being a radar-based observatory, Gokturk-3 will allow the Turkish Air Force to gather images day and night, without being affected by clouds and adverse weather for the first time.

DIEC has also awarded Selah Makine shipyards new contract negotiations for the construction of two logistics support ships,  Ares shipyards to build an undisclosed number of SEAL insertion boats, and MTA to procure two propulsion systems  for the Turkish Navy’s Ada-class (also known as Milgem) corvettes.

A press release by SSM, Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industrues, following the DIEC meeting also revealed that Turkey is continuing to negotiate with China on its strategic T-LORAMIDS high-altitude missile defence system that has stirred a lot of heat with NATO and Turkey’s Western allies over security and compatibility issues..

China’s HQ-9 had previously beat US, European and Russian contenders in the multi-billion dollar T-LORAMIDS program. For the negotiations to be finalized and finally awarded, China must meet Turkish military requirements by the end of June.

Defence analysts expect China to win the lucrative tender with HQ-9s price point, improved capabilities and China’s willingness to share technology with Turkey.

THK reluctantly accepts 1st A400M in Kayseri

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

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

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

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

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

TZ

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

Turkish defence industry struggles to go global

Turkey’s defense industry exports have largely been possible through offset arrangements made with foreign arms suppliers. Defense offset agreements, as legal trading practices in the aerospace and military industries, are widely used by many countries as a means of bringing some of the foreign currency going abroad back to the country through arms procurement deals to strengthen local industries through a work share to be given to local companies in a defense project. Yet Turkey’s heavy reliance on offset arrangements in its defense exports, among other things, is hindering its defense industry companies from becoming globally competitive companies.

It is difficult to say that Turkey has used offset commitments in a rational manner to build a stronger local defense industry base. Instead, offset commitments pledged by foreign contractors are sometimes realized in areas such as building additional military headquarters within military compounds instead of focusing on creating technology-based infrastructure.

In essence, offset agreements are protectionist and distort competition.

Hence, any country that receives defense offset commitments must govern these pledges in a transparent and rational manner, minimizing the effects of protectionism, which hinders defense companies from competing at a global level.

Turkey has not yet been able to utilize offset pledges made by foreign contractors to strengthen its defense industry base through the production of critical military technologies despite some of the efforts to this end which have been under way lately.

Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz emphasized in a November 2013 speech the importance of offset arrangements with foreign contractors for the development of local industries and for the industry to receive work share as well as for defense exports.

According to figures he released, Turkey’s total defense and aerospace turnover reached $4.75 billion as of 2012 while its exports exceeded $1.26 billion.

Turkey’s exports, however, would have been well below those figures stated above without its offset commitments with foreign arms suppliers.

At the end of the day, Turkish defense industry companies are only being fed with offset arrangements and are not encouraged through state policies to create an export industry based on high military technologies.

Turkish companies have been turning into monsters being fed by offsets instead of the country producing global companies.

As a matter of fact, according to a report released by the Turkish Union of Chamber and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) on March 15, there were only five defense industry companies out of the 500 largest Turkish companies and only one defense company out of the 100 fastest growing Turkish companies.

One of the recipes for Turkey to create global defense industry companies is through the privatization of military-owned defense companies, including Aselsan, Roketsan and Havelsan as well as the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI).

However, the government’s long-time plan to privatize a large portion of the nation’s defense industry companies and increase efficiency through new competitive bidding processes which could force the liquidation of firms that fail to compete faces opposition from the military. The privatization policy was intended to improve the efficiency of these military firms through downsizing and opening them up to competition.

The current unaccountable status of 18 Turkish military companies, whose shares are partly or fully owned by the Foundation to Strengthen the Turkish Armed Forces (TSKGV), stands as a big hurdle to privatization. Added to the problem is the absence of real will within the government to bring these companies under civilian oversight and to finally privatize them.

As a report released by Sweden-based Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in March of this year and written by Professor Nurhan Yentürk pointed out, these 18 military companies — whose military spending is not available either — operate according to the law for private commerce but are managed by public officials, namely the TSKGV’s board of trustees consisting of the defense minister, the deputy chief of General Staff and the undersecretary affiliated with the defense minister.

The government’s legislation from February of this year introducing non-defense commercial offset agreements — a practice that runs contrary to international free trade regulations — in the meantime, has the potential to cause a headache for Turkey in its international trade dealings.

It remains to be seen whether the government will finally implement a privatization plan for defense companies while facing serious accusations of corruption and bribery, some of which are linked to the privatization process of civilian local companies.

Turkey to develop thermobaric warhead

A recently leaked classified document involving a top (former) procurement agency official has revealed that Turkey has started development on a new type of weapon that utilizes thermobaric concepts. Authorities were not immediately available for comment to confirm or deny the new information..

The leaked document indicates that a specialized wing of Turkey’s Scientific and Technological Research Council, dubbed SAGE, has been charged by the country’s defence ministry with prototyping and testing of the new weapon following a high level defence committee meeting in 2013. Current status of the project is unknown, but the fact that the news surfaced while Russia accused Ukraine of illegally selling its missile technology to Turkey and a number of other countries has raised eyebrows.

Turkey is known for keeping its more advanced weapon systems classified for many years.

A thermobaric weapon is a type of explosive that utilizes oxygen from the surrounding air to generate an intense, high-temperature explosion, and in practice the blast wave such a weapon produces is typically significantly longer in duration than a conventional condensed explosive. The specific weapon Turkey is working on is presumed to be a fuel-air bomb, one of the most well-known types of thermobaric warheads..

These cause considerably more destruction than other similar explosives when used in lower altitudes or inside confined environments such as tunnels, caves, and bunkers.

The new thermobaric warhead is likely to be aircraft deliverable, but it is also expected that Turkey will make them an option on its growing inventory of surface-to-surface missile systems.