Raytheon’s Mike Boots Explains Turkey’s Patriot Balance

A Dutch soldier standing by a Patriot anti-missile battery at the Diyarbakir military airport in southeastern Turkey. (AFP)
A Dutch soldier standing by a Patriot anti-missile battery at the Diyarbakir military airport in southeastern Turkey. (AFP)

TR Defence’s North America correspondent and acting editor-in-chief Hasan Karaahmet has interviewed Mr. Mike Boots, Patriot Turkey Program Manager at Raytheon Defense Systems, to shed light on some of the most common questions Turkish defense enthusiasts ask regarding Turkey’s T-LORAMIDS long-range air defence program.

Hasan Karaahmet: Mr. Boots, thank you for agreeing to talk to our readers. As a time-tested, battle-proven system, many countries around the world depend on the Patriot, both NATO and non-NATO. What is the driving force behind Patriot’s huge commercial success to this day?

Mike Boots: No other existing system has the proven combat experience of Patriot to engage evolving threats; and no other air and missile defense system has demonstrated the reliability and lower cost of system ownership. Patriot is the backbone of NATO’s lower tier defense, and as you know, Patriot is currently deployed in Turkey by NATO members Germany, the Netherlands and the United States.

Hasan Karaahmet: What is the current level of deployment around the world?

Mike Boots: There are currently over 200 Patriot fire units deployed around the world with Raytheon’s 12 Patriot partners. More than 40 Patriot fire units are now in construction or are undergoing modernization.

Hasan Karaahmet: How about the US? How long does the US military itself plan on using the Patriot air defence system?

Mike Boots: The US Army has committed to fielding Patriot beyond the year 2048.

Hasan Karaahmet: What’s Raytheon’s policy on investments in Turkey?

Mike Boots: Raytheon has a long history working in Turkey — from ground based air defence systems like Stinger and Hawk to tactical radars like Firefinder and Sentinel. From our family of air-to-air missiles like AMRAAM and AIM-9 to naval command management systems like Genesis. Raytheon is committed to partnerships with Turkish industry.

Hasan Karaahmet: Any cooperation prospects in regards to Patriot?

Mike Boots: We are already working closely with several Turkish defence companies to produce Patriot components for export to other countries. For example, Aselsan is a key strategic partner for Raytheon on the Antenna Mast Group for the UAE Patriot system. Roketsan is also a key strategic partner, producing components of GEM-T missile for the UAE and Kuwait. Also, Pagatel is producing command and control shelters, and AYESAS is working on the command and control integration.

Hasan Karaahmet: Turkey’s Undersecreteriat for Defence Industries, the SSM, has adopted a procurement policy favoring local production and technology sharing. What are Raytheon’s views on this?

Mike Boots: Both Roketsan and Aselsan have been awardedRaytheon’s prestigious Supplier Excellence awards for the past two years for the excellent work they have performed on these programs. We anticipate increased global Patriot work share for Roketsan and Aselsan and have recently signed long-ter, agreements with these great companies for collaboration on advanced technology co-development projects in the area of high altitude missile defense. In addition to these strategic partner companies I mentioned, many other Turkish defence companies have the experience and skills we look for in our suppliers. As we win in other countries, they will get the opportunity to compete for additional work for those programs.

Hasan Karaahmet: Can the Patriot system be operated in conjunction with an Aselsan radar or launch a Turkish-made missile with comparable capabilities?

Mike Boots: Patriot can use data and information from a wide variety of sources and can interface with a variety of equipment, including missiles. We would need to know the specific sensors or effectors we are talking about in order to adequately answer that question.

Hasan Karaahmet: Does the US government or certain laws restrict the transfer of know-how on any subsystem or component of Patriot to Turkey?

Mike Boots: No! Turkey is a valuable ally of the United States and a NATO partner. Turkey’s T-LORAMIDS program fulfills an important NATO air and missile defence commitment.

Hasan Karaahmet: Certain reports appeared in the Turkish defence media indicate that the Patriot procurement has been tied to Turkey’s being granted access to F-35 source codes and the SM-2/Aegis technology for TF-2000 class frigates. What can you tell me about this?

Mike Boots: Intellectual property (IP) rights, such as software source codes, are often an issue to be negotiated in any sale of new technology. A customer’s desire for IP rights must be balanced with the rights of the inventor and owner of those rights through the negotiation process.

Hasan Karaahmet: Mr. Boots, how does Patriot compare to the other Western contender in T-LORAMIDS, Eurosam’s SAMP/T? What makes Patriot the better of the two?

Mike Boots: As I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, no other existing system has the proven combat experience of Patriot to engage evolving threats. No other air and missile defence system has demonstrated the reliability and lower cost of system ownership. Patriot is NATO’s lower tier defense with 200 Patriot fire units deployed around the world.

Hasan Karaahmet: In the past, we’ve published statements from mainly US sources that if Turkey opts for a non-Western solution, integration of the SAM system into NATO networks can be problematic. Can you explain to our viewers as to why this is the case?

Mike Boots: We have read and heard similar statements from various sources. NATO is very serious about protecting critical technology from falling into the hands of potential enemies. Patriot is a key element of NATO air and missile defence capability and works seamlessly with the NATO command and control architecture and other NATO defence systems. NATO would be very careful about what other systems might be connected to the architecture.

Hasan Karaahmet: What’s the future for Patriot? Is it going to continue to evolve with new capabilities beyond the GEM=T and PAC-3?

Mike Boots: The Patriot modernization roadmap will ensure Patriot remains the most advanced air and missile defence system in the world. If Turkey chooses Patriot for their long-range air and missile defense system, Turkish industry will have opportunities to participate in co-developing new technologies to help keep Patriot on the leading edge of technology.

 

Turkey to Sync Air & Space Power

Turkey aims to maximize its aerial firepower through several simultaneous programs, mostly indigenous, that better synchronize air and space assets.

The most ambitious program is locally designing, developing and building, with foreign technical support, the country’s first “national” fighter jet, dubbed the F-X.

Turkey’s procurement authorities recently decided to employ Sweden’s Saab, maker of the JAS 39 Gripen, to help shape their plans to manufacture the F-X. Turkish engineers, with help from Saab, have drafted three models that will be presented to top management at the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) procurement agency and the air force in September.

According to a draft plan, Turkey aims for its national fighter jet to make its maiden flight in 2023, the Turkish Republic’s centennial. Production will commence in 2021 and deliveries to the Air Force are planned between 2025 and 2035.

Turkey, whose fighter fleet is composed of U.S.-made aircraft, plans to buy the F-35 joint strike fighter.

“The F-35 will be the principal air power asset, with the Turkish fighter complementing it,” one procurement official said.

In January, SSM announced that it put off plans to order an initial two F-35s, citing rising costs and technological failures, although it said it still intends to buy 100 more in the long run. Turkey is one of nine countries that are part of the U.S.-led F-35 consortium.

Turkey’s plans heavily rely on several unmanned aerial vehicle variants that Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has been striving to develop. TAI will soon finalize a contract with SSM for the sale of 10 locally made Anka drone systems. The last of these passed acceptance tests in January, including a full endurance, 18-hour flight, successful automatic landing and data link performance at a distance of 200 kilometers.

Anka is the first medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle to be produced by TAI.

A more ambitious program involves development of an unmanned combat aerial vehicle, which would have longer range and function as a strategic bomber. TAI officials declined to provide details, citing confidentiality.

A Turkish air force official said these aircraft programs would be synchronized with numerous planned satellite programs.

“We aim to achieve an excellent interoperability between our aerial and space assets,” the official said.

One highly ambitious program aims to build a missile with a maximum range of 2,500 kilometers. In 2011, the Turkish government announced plans to develop that missile, not revealing whether it would be ballistic or cruise.

Although little information about the program has been released, a Turkish Cabinet minister in January confirmed that Turkey can produce a missile with a range of 800 kilometers.

State scientific institute Tubitak-Sage has been awarded the development contract and said it intends to test a prototype in the next two years. But while Turkish officials have indicated a desire for an independent capability to launch satellites, the military aspects of the missile program have not been released.

Earlier this year, the Air Force devised a national roadmap that will eventually lead to the launching of Turkish space command within its structure, a move that may be a boon for space-related procurement in the country. The space command will become fully operational by 2023.

As a first step, the air force is founding a space group command, or a de facto “aerospace force” unit that will comprise reconnaissance, early warning, electronic support, satellite command and satellite launching center departments.

Air force officials said the work and procurement under the roadmap would enable the service to perform reconnaissance and observation through imagery intelligence regardless of weather and geographical conditions; build a communications system for secure command and control; provide early detection of ballistic missile threats; and conduct electronic support for operational and warfare purposes.

The system will enable the air force to monitor Turkish and non-Turkish satellite activity and upgrade Turkish satellite programs.

Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said Jan. 3 that the government would start negotiations with state-run missile maker Roketsan for the early design phase of a new launch system “to ensure that military and civilian satellites can be sent into space.”

Also in January, Turkey’s top decision-maker in procurement, the Defense Industry Executive Committee, approved starting talks with TAI for domestic development of a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) spacecraft dubbed Gokturk-3, with support from defense electronics manufacturer Aselsan and Tubitak.

With a space segment composed of a single satellite equipped with a SAR payload, a fixed main ground terminal and mobile backup station, Gokturk-3 will provide high-resolution radar images from anywhere in the world in day/night, all-weather conditions, according to Defense Ministry requirements.

The Turkish military’s space-based assets are geared more toward intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

Placed in orbit late in December was Gokturk-2, an Earth observation satellite designed and built by Tubitak’s space technologies research unit, Tubitak-Uzay, in cooperation with TAI.

Gokturk-2, launched Dec. 18 from China, encompasses 80 percent indigenously developed technology and 100 percent domestically developed software. It provides day imagery of 2.5 meters’ resolution. It is Turkey’s second national satellite.

The intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data gathered by national assets, including Gokturk-2 and an unknown number of operational and planned unmanned aerial vehicles, will be integrated into Turkey’s command and control network.

Turkey plans to launch the next satellite in the series, Gokturk-1, in the next few years. Gokturk-1, under construction through a deal with Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space, is a larger and more powerful optical imaging spacecraft capable of sub-meter resolution. Under the government roadmap, Turkey plans to send 16 satellites into orbit by 2020.

A space industry expert based here said the next five years’ satellite contracts could amount to $2 billion.

SpaceNews

TUBITAK to develop laser CIWS

Turkey’s Scientific and Technological Research Foundation TUBITAK has officially opened a bid for the in-country development of a high-power laser weapon system. Such weapons are currently only deployed by the United States military.

TUBITAK’s SAVTAG, the Turkish equivalent of “DARPA” of the US Department of Defense, is officially put in charge of supporting a high budget project, internally named the “1007 Program”, that intends to organize and support Turkey’s current hi-tech weapons manufacturers and accomplished universities around this ambitious goal. The laser is planned to be used primarily as a precision close in weapon system (CIWS) aboard Turkey’s next generation frigates, dubbed the TF-2000, to engage enemy ships, aircraft and oncoming missile threats. The project will last for 72 months and will be run under “top secret” status, requiring all participants to comply with SAVTAG’s safety and security regulations.

 

 

Turkey May Adopt Chinese Air Defence System

China’s HQ-9 is strengthening its position in the Turkish long-range missile defence tender T-LORAMIDS.

Turkey is strongly leaning toward adopting a Chinese long-range anti-missile and air defense system, Turkish procurement officials said, even though it may be impossible  to integrate the system with its existing NATO architecture.

One senior procurement official familiar with the program said the Turkish government has concluded that the Chinese proposal was technologically satisfactory, allowed technology transfer and was much cheaper than rival proposals.

The decision to select the Chinese contender awaits final approval from Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The decision would be finalized and officially announced at the next meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Committee, chaired by Erdogan, which oversees major procurement decisions. No date has been set for the meeting.

In January, Turkey restructured the $4 billion program, dubbed T-Loramids, which had originally been constructed as an off-the-shelf purchase. The contenders’ bids would remain valid, but the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) procurement office would ask bidders to submit parallel, co-production solutions. Erdogan ordered the launch of feasibility studies on “potential co-production” of the system.

T-Loramids consists of radar, launcher and intercept missiles.

The same month, SSM wrote to the bidders and asked them to send letters of intent for any co-production deal. The bidders are a U.S. partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, offering the Patriot air defense system; Russia’s Rosoboronexport, marketing the S-300; the China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp., offering its HQ-9; and the Italian-French consortium Eurosam, maker of the SAMP/T Aster 30.

T-Loramids, has been designed to counter both enemy aircraft and missiles. Turkey has no long-range air defense systems.

But diplomats and analysts warn that Turkey may not be allowed to integrate the Chinese-Turkish system into Turkey’s mostly NATO-owned early warning assets.

“I cannot comment on how the [US] administration would react to that. But I can tell you that integrating a Chinese or Chinese-Turkish air defense system into NATO assets may not be a good idea,” a US diplomat here said.

A Western industry source  said that US officials have warned the Turkish bureaucrats several times about the potential difficulties in achieving interoperability if Turkey decided to go for a Chinese or a Russian architecture.

“I see that the Turks remain defiant. But I do not think it would be practically possible to integrate either the air defense or the anti-missile components of the planned Turkish-Chinese architecture into NATO radars,” a London-based Turkey specialist said. “The Turks would have the same problem if they chose the Russian system, but I think for the Americans, China represents a more direct threat.”

About half of Turkey’s network-based air defense picture (radars) has been paid for by NATO, said a Turkish defense official familiar with NATO work. They are part of the NATO Air Defense Ground Environment. He did not comment on potential problems if Turkey wanted to make the planned system interoperable with these assets.

To defend against missile threats, Turkey needs satellite and dedicated ballistic missile detection and tracking radar like the NATO radar deployed last year in Kurecik.

For the anti-aircraft component, Turkey needs an overall picture for data fusion.  The Patriot system, for instance, can detect threats with its own radar. So does the Chinese system. But without integrating into a full air picture,  the Chinese system could not work efficiently, officials said.

“Turkey can always decide to build a stand-alone system. But in that case, abstracting the air defense system from NATO assets would mean that Turkey will lose half of its radar capabilities,” said one defense analyst here.

He said Turkey would need interface data to make its own air defense architecture interoperable with NATO assets, primarily data on the identify friend or foe system.

“This is top secret and cannot be installed into any Chinese system,” the analyst said.

Another major question, he said, is “how would Turkey have in its possession a made-in-China IFF system, and how would that system be integrated into its fleet of F-16 aircraft?

“There is an important degree of incompatibility here and all in all any Chinese-Turkish co-production program would look problematic,” he said.

DefenseNews

TAI’s Hurkus to take off in August

TAI Hurkus

TAI has delayed the maiden flight of Turkey’s first indigenously developed trainer aircraft to August. The reason of the delay is “a need for the cockpit to be overhauled in order to increase its ergonomic features and increase comfort of the pilot”, TR Defence sources at TAI confirmed on Friday.

After the cockpit of Hurkus is reassembled in line with the new configuration, a number of ground tests will follow.

TAI is also waiting on final certification approvals from EASA and Turkey’s directorate general of civil aviation, the SHGM.

 

Thales: First A400M Full Flight Simulator Ready

The first A400M Full Flight Simulator (FFS) designed and built by Thales for  Airbus Military received European Aviation Safety Agency’s qualification for training on the 7 June at Airbus Military International Training Centre in Seville.

This qualification is a key enabling milestone that allows Airbus Military to  start to train A400M flight crews for their complex missions in a safe  environment.

The Full Flight Simulator utilises aircraft hardware and software that  represents the initial configuration of the A400M aircraft cockpit and simulates  the ground and flight operations of the aircraft in various natural and tactical  environments. It includes an enhanced field of view visual system that is  capable of supporting training in all aircraft manoeuvres, including air-to-air  refuelling and low level tactical operations. A six degrees of freedom motion  system, on-board and off-board instructor stations and a record and replay  system to aid crew briefing and debriefing is also provided.

As new aircraft data is made available, Thales and Airbus Military teams are  also working to obtain Level D certification for this simulator.

Peter Hitchcock, VP Avionics, Thales UK,  says: “Thales is the leading provider of training solutions for Military Aircraft with contracts to provide A400M Full Flight Simulators and Flat Panel Trainers  to Spain, France, Germany and UK. We are proud to offer our long-standing  experience to help train pilots for this exciting and highly capable new  aircraft”.

Thales is the main supplier of the A400M’s avionics system, covering cockpit  displays systems, Head-up displays, Flight management systems, Integrated  Modular avionics, Enhanced Vision System.

Through a joint venture with Airbus Military, Thales has also been selected  by the UK MoD for the provision of its through life support training service,  which includes the design, construction and management of the A400M training  school, the installation and maintenance of full flight simulators and all  synthetic training equipment, and support to the RAF’s own course design team  and training staff.

The training school will be built at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, with  work planned to complete in Spring 2014. The school will train a range of  aircrew and ground crew in the operation and maintenance of the RAF’s 22 A400M  Atlas aircrafts.

Thales has been a world leader in provision of training services for more  than 30 years.

The Atlas A400M is an all new military airlifter designed to meet the needs  of the world’s Armed Forces in the 21st Century. Thanks to its most advanced  technologies, it is able to fly higher, faster and further, while retaining high  manoeuvrability, low speed, and short, soft and rough airfield capabilities. It  combines both tactical and strategic/logistic missions, while being also able to  be used as a tanker plane. With its cargo hold specifically designed to carry  the outsize equipment needed today for both military and humanitarian disaster  relief missions, it can bring this material quickly and directly to where it is  most needed.

Conceived to be highly reliable, dependable, and with a great survivability,  the multipurpose Atlas A400M can do the job of three of today’s different  aircraft models in a single one. This means smaller fleets and less investment  from the operator. Able to do more with less, the Atlas A400M is the most cost  efficient and versatile airlifter ever conceived and absolutely unique in its  capabilities.

Thales is a global technology leader for the defence & security and the aerospace & transport markets. In 2011 the company generated revenues of £11.4 bn (€13  bn), with 65,000 employees in 56 countries. With its 22,500 engineers and  research­ers, Thales has a unique capability to design, develop and deploy  equipment, systems and services that meet the most complex security  requirements. Thales has an excep­tional inter­national footprint, with  operations around the world working with customers as local partners.

Thales UK employs 7,500 staff based at 35 locations. In 2011 Thales UK’s  revenues were around £1.4 bn.

DefenceTalk

Welsh: F-35 is backbone of Air Force’s future fighter fleet

The Air Force’s most advanced  strike aircraft, the F-35 Lightning II, is a vital capability that the nation needs to stay ahead of  adversary technological gains, the Air Force chief of staff told a Senate panel  here, June 19.

Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on  Defense, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said air superiority is critical to the nation’s  security and how the U.S.  military plans to fight.

“The air superiority this nation has enjoyed for 60 years is not an accident  and gaining and maintaining it is not easy,” Welsh said. “It requires trained  proficient and ready Airmen and it requires credible, capable and  technologically superior aircraft. I believe the F-35 is essential to ensuring  we can provide that air superiority in the future.”

The F-35 is an unprecedented fifth generation fighter combining stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully integrated  sensors and network enabled operations, and state-of-the-art avionics. However,  design issues and production costs have put the F-35 program in real  jeopardy.

Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank  Kendall told the committee he believe those concerns have been addressed.

“The department’s and my focus has been on the efforts to control costs on  the program, and to achieve a more stable design so that we could increase the  production rate to more economical quantities,” Kendall testified. “Indications  at this time are that these efforts are succeeding.”

The Air Force intends to use a portion of the proposed fiscal 2014 budget to  support current defense strategic guidance and modernization programs like the  F-35.

“Potential adversaries are acquiring fighters on par with or better than our  legacy fourth generation fleet,” Welsh told the committee. “They’re developing  sophisticated early warning radar systems and employing better surface to air  missile systems, and this at a time when our fighter fleet numbers about 2,000  aircraft and averages a little over 23 years of age — the smallest and the  oldest in the Air Force’s history.”

Welsh said America needs the F-35 to stay a step ahead and to “make sure the  future fight is an away game and to minimize our risk to our ground forces when  conflict inevitably does occur.”

“The F-35 is the only real, viable option to form the backbone of our future  fighter fleet,” he said. “The F-35 remains the best platform to address the  proliferation of highly capable integrated air defenses and new air-to-air  threats.”

DefenceTalk

Cirit & UMTAS on show for US border protection

The company expects to also test Roketsan’s UMTAS air-to-surface missile in the near future.

Based in Mooresville, North Carolina, Iomax USA (Chalet A132) has chosen the Paris Air Show to launch its ArchAngel border-patrol aircraft. The ArchAngel has a wide variety of sensor and weapon options available and offers customers a low-cost but highly effective platform for a range of ISR and light attack missions. ArchAngel is in many ways an evolution from the Air Tractor AT-802U armed agricultural aircraft that was previously displayed at Le Bourget. However, much has changed since then.

Although no AT-802Us were produced, Iomax undertook the integration of mission systems for 24 similar AT-802i aircraft that were sold to a customer that was widely reported in the media as being the United Arab Emirates. The ArchAngel builds on that aircraft, with some important changes, not least of which is a switch of airframe supplier to Thrush. Iomax made the change as it can now incorporate its own modifications on the production line, something that was not possible with the Air Tractor.

A new avionics suite is installed, with Esterline CMC Electronics and Honeywell components and an all-new cockpit. The weapon system has also been improved, and with it the range of weapons that is available. The main EO/IR sensor turret is changed from the FLIR Systems Britestar to an L-3 Wescam MX-15, although other turrets are options. The ArchAngel can also be fitted with missile defenses, such as the BAE Systems AAR-57 CMWS, and ballistic protection is an option. Iomax has also designed a flexible pod system that can mount EO/IR sensor turret, SAR/MTI radar, Sigint sensors, video and weapons datalinks, missile and radar warners and UAV command and control systems.

Here at the Paris Air Show the ArchAngel is being displayed with a range of weapons, including the Hellfire missile and Roketsan Cirit laser-guided rocket. Iomax undertook the first firings of Cirit from a fixed-wing aircraft in January, firing the weapon from an AT-802i at a range in the Middle East. Final qualification of this weapon is expected in late August/early September. The company expects to also test Roketsan’s UMTAS air-to-surface missile in the near future, as well as an FN Herstal 0.5-in caliber machine gun pod. Both are represented on the aircraft here in the static display. GBU-12 laser-guided bombs can be dropped and guided, as well as INS-guided weapons. Iomax is shortly to fly a twin-rack launcher that it has developed for these 500-pound class smart bombs.

ArchAngel’s show debut is being made at Paris after a commendably short installation program. Iomax received the aircraft from the Thrush factory in March, and in less than three months had the aircraft back in the air in late May with its new avionics suite and cockpit. The company hopes to undertake in-country demonstrations to potential customers later in the year.

AIN Online

Turkey Picks Saab To Mentor National Fighter Program

Turkey has selected  Saab to help shape its plans to design, develop and manufacture its first national fighter jet.

Ankara has already drafted three models, one of which likely will become its first indigenous fighter, although some analysts said Turkey should have opted for an unmanned model.

“After lengthy negotiations with Saab, we have come to the conclusion to go ahead with this company to finalize our feasibility studies,” a senior procurement official familiar with the national fighter program said.

He said that the Swedish aerospace and defense group  already has assisted with the three models Turkish engineers have drafted, and these would be presented to top management at the country’s arms procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), as well as to the Air Force.

“We are working to make that presentation in September or October,” the official said.

The Saab group’s office here did not respond to questions by press time.

An official from Tusas Aerospace Industries (TAI), the local prime contractor for the program, said that one of the three drafts is a twin-engine stealth aircraft and the other two are single-engine models, also stealthy.

The procurement official said the program has two problems to overcome.

“We need to pick up the right engine manufacturer with which we should be able to work out a long-term relationship. That will be essential. Also, we need to know that a meticulously devised cost-benefit analysis should prove this is a feasible program,” he said.

A government official said the final decision on whether to launch the manufacturing phase would be made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“A lot will depend on the findings of the cost-benefit analysis in progress now,” the official said. “We would accept a certain margin that will make the Turkish fighter reasonably more expensive than available options. But if we find out that we could only manufacture a fighter, say, [at a cost] 40 to 50 percent more expensive than a proven, off-the-shelf buy option, then the prime minister would probably drop the idea.”

According to a draft plan, the country is aiming for a maiden flight for its national fighter jet in 2023, the Turkish Republic’s centennial. Production would commence in 2021, and deliveries to the Air Force are planned between 2025 and 2035. The aircraft would remain in service until 2060.

“This is a long-term plan, and given technological developments in the global aerospace scene, the Turks should perhaps have gone for an unmanned fighter,” a London-based Turkey specialist said.

Earlier, TAI signed a technical assistance deal with Saab to carry out conceptual design work. This followed an August 2011 deal signed with SSM to begin the conceptual design work for the fighter and trainer jets that Turkey hopes to build.

Designing the first Turkish fighter, according to defense analysts, is a necessary but not critical step.

“What is crucial here is whether this project would enable Turkey to earn capabilities to successfully integrate avionics, electronics and weapon systems into the chosen platform,” the London-based analyst said.

Saab produces the JAS 39 Gripen, a lightweight, single-engine multirole fighter. Saab has cooperated with other aerospace companies in marketing the aircraft and has achieved moderate success in Central Europe, South Africa and Southeast Asia. More than 240 Gripens have been delivered or ordered.

In 2010, Sweden awarded Saab a four-year contract to improve the Gripen’s equipment, integrate new weapons and lower operating costs. Last August, Sweden announced it planned to buy 40 to 60 Gripen NGs. The Swedish order followed Switzerland’s decision to buy 22 E/F variants of the jet.

For its fighter program, dubbed TF-X, Turkey hopes to copy the method devised to co-produce T-129 attack helicopters with Italian-British AgustaWestland.

“We think this model has worked successfully and could be a template for our fighter program,” the TAI official said.

Turkey also plans to buy the F-35. But Turkish officials said they wanted to develop a fighter jet with another country to reduce Turkey’s dependence on Washington.

HDN

Turkey accelerates defence Silicon Valley

Teknopark Istanbul is heading fast toward its planned inauguration this August. It will host over 1,000 advanced technology companies and generate nearly $10 billion annually when completed .

Turkey’s commercial capital Istanbul generates an annual $140 billion and houses about 50 universities, but the country’s defense heavyweights are overwhelmingly located in and around the official capital Ankara. Now it’s time defense companies put one foot in Istanbul to make sensible partnerships with the world’s most prominent advanced technology companies and university-generated “science” in Istanbul.

The Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), Turkey’s sole defense procurement agency, wants the accumulated scientific and industrial knowledge in Istanbul to be introduced to the national defense industry. The venue for that ambition will be Teknopark Istanbul that opens late in August.

“Our principal mission is to contribute to the national innovation system and to boost the local industry’s international competitiveness through multinational partnerships and technological advancement. That’s a mission fully in line with the Turkish government’s strategic objective of creating an increasingly independent, competitive and export-oriented local industry,” explains Teknopark Istanbul’s CEO, Turgut Şenol.

Turkey’s “defense and aerospace Silicon Valley,” will operate a 950,000-square-meter indoor space at the Sabiha Gökçen Airport, accommodating more than 30,000 people, 1,000 top advanced technology companies, 18 universities and targeting $10 billion in defense and nondefense business annually, to become one of Europe’s largest technology parks.

Defense priority

Şenol aims to bring together companies and universities in Istanbul, targeting strategic fields like aviation, maritime, electronics, information technology, nanotechnology, energy and automotive, biotechnologies, automation systems, and robot technologies. Contracts have been signed with over 100 companies for the first phase of the project. SSM’s chief, Murad Bayar, once described Teknopark Istanbul as “Turkey’s best technological center.”

The huge lab’s major shareholders are SSM and the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce. The partners will spend $4 billion in the project in the next 12 to 15 years.
“This is not a profit-targeting venture for either partner. Presently, over 1,000 international companies are headquartered in Istanbul. We want these multinational entities to have a view of Istanbul not only from a commercial dimension, but also from a technology development aspect. We want to improve innovation on a national level by making us of local and foreign partners here and, thus, to turn scientific and academic knowledge into high-tech commodities,” Şenol explains.

Defense will be a priority sector but not the only one.

The defense industry is often a recipient of technology from several other sectors. There are many non-defense industries which supply technology to defense industry. “Aviation will have a special place in this project, as evinced by the fact that Teknopark Istanbul is located at one of Istanbul’s two airports. It will become one of the major reference points in aviation technologies in the next few years,” Şenol said.

Tax exemption

Resident companies’ research and development activity at Teknopark Istanbul will be exempt from corporate and income tax. Similarly, software companies will be exempt from the value added tax. Operating costs like power will also be supplied at major discounts. Resident companies also will enjoy free of charge local and international consultancy services.
“Almost every major player in Turkish defense industry will be here. There is also great interest from Turkish and foreign automotive industry companies. We are now discussing modalities of residence with several major European and U.S. defense companies. There also will be advanced technology companies from the Far East,” Şenol said.

HDN