Turkish Air Forces has sent an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft to fly over the Black Sea region to monitor the situation developing in Crimea, TR Defense sources confirmed on Wednesday.
Turkey’s Boeing 737-based AEW&C aircraft is currently the closest airborne NATO asset watching Crimea’s airspace.
The aircraft boasts an advanced Northrop Grumman-made AESA radar and has a cruise range of over 6,000 kilometeres. The range of the radar has been reported to be 380 kilometers.
On Monday, NATO also approved reconnaissance flights by other alliance AWACS aircraft over Poland and Romania to monitor the situation from the north west.
Kale Havacilik has accelerated efforts to develop a new jet engine for Turkey’s ‘SOM’ stand-off missiles.
Kale Aerospace’s R&D division manager Burcin Elbirlik has informed TR Defence sources that the company reached an advanced stage in its efforts to build a new engine for the missile and that “right now there’s a working prototype”.
“A new, high-tech test center for jet engines is going to become operational by the end of March. Afterwards, we’ll also begin working on turboprop designs” Elbirlik added.
“During the first tests of the new SOM prototype engine, it caught on fire, but these sorts of mishaps are common with such advanced products. The flaws were fixed and now we have a working engine.”
Kale currently imports a large number of its engine components from international suppliers. But they do hope to produce increasingly more components in-house or at least from domestic manufacturers as the project enters serial production.
Following firm orders from the Turkish Armed Forces and the Middle East, missile manufacturer Roketsan is now pitching its Cirit lightweight precision rocket system in Europe.
Cirit is a highly cost-effective weapon system that combines the precision of a laser guided multi-purpose missile with the low price and availability of a 2.75″ rocket.
“There will be a large defence fair in Germany that Turkey will also participate. We want to carry Cirit’s success on to European markets. We hope that this coming fair in Europe will be a good opportunity for Cirit to show itself to new potential buyers” said Mr. Selcuk Yasar, Roketsan’s general manager.
“Cirit has recently finished qualification trials in the United Arab Emirates,” he added.
Last February, Roketsan was successful in securing a $196 million contract with the UAE for a total of 10,000 laser-guided Cirit rockets at the IDEX defence fair in Abu Dhabi. The rockets are to be used primarily aboard UAE’s AT-802 airplanes.
Combat Proven Capability
In the meantime, Roketsan continues to deliver an unspecified number of Cirit rockets to the Turkish Land Forces command. These rockets have been delivered in special smart launchers that are installed in remote, Kalekol-class outposts along Turkey’s south eastern border. These systems have been extremely effective in combating terrorism and illegal smuggling.
In addition to being used by airplanes, UAVs, helicopters and even land-based launchers, Turkey is also adapting Cirit to be used aboard naval platforms. The laser homing, 14-kg guided rocket provides lethal precision strike capability against fast attack crafts and similarly sized platforms at a range of 8 kilometers (5 miles).
Located in the small town of Arifiye, Sakarya is a modern factory with huge expectations from the future that has just recently celebrated its 50th birthday. Engineered and produced locally, the Cobra armored vehicle produced by this factory is now in use by 19 countries and the UN. Of course, we’re talking about a rising Turkish pride, Otokar! Developer of the Turkish main battle tank Altay and a growing family of other armored vehicles for the Turkish and allied armed forces.
Otokar’s general manager Serdar Gorguc explains that they’re constantly striving to increase their product portfolio with cutting-edge, capable vehicles that don’t only meet today’s requirements, but can take on the challenges of tomorrow as well.
Gorguc gave Ural, it’s lightest armored vehicle to date, as an example. “Ural is used by the police force. Even though it’s a very new vehicle, the contract for production was promptly signed.”
All this clearly shows the growing worldwide prestige and reliability of Otokar’s product line.
“We have high expectations from the Ural internationally as well. It is a high performance, multifunctional vehicle designed to tackle an array of missions” said Gorguc.
He said that the Cobra vehicle has become an icon of its own throughout the world, even in use by the UN peace forces in various African countries.
Why is cobra so successful? Because it provides best in class protection to its occupants at a cheaper price tag than its competitors. It’s not rocket science, it’s armor science.
Turkey’s national pride: The Altay
“Turkey has gained important international recognition with the Altay project,” Gorguc said.
“Very few countries are capable of designing and manufacturing their own tanks. Entering this elite club, Altay has turned the attention onto Turkey in many regards,” he added.
Tulpar is another important project of Otokar’s. It’s an armored infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) designed to not only safely transport troops in a battlefield environment, but also augment and support Turkey’s main battle tanks with its cutting edge electro-optical sensors and daring fire power.
“Tulpar was developed to go along with the Altay main battle tank. It will carry soldiers to and from the battle zone. It was designed fully NATO compatible with the world’s highest quality standards. It’s currently under vigorous tests, but we have extremely high expectations from it. We’re developing it with primarily Turkey’s military needs in mind but with an eye on a lot of exports as well” Gorguc added.
The Turkish government and the country’s largest defense company are under increasing pressure from Turkey’s NATO allies to rethink a September decision to award a $3.44 billion air defense contract to a Chinese bidder.
Procurement officials have privately admitted that if Turkey finalizes the deal with the Chinese manufacturer, its entire defense cooperation effort with Western counterparts, including defense and non-defense companies, could be jeopardized.
“I think there is growing concern in Ankara over that deal,” one official familiar with the program said. “These concerns will definitely play a role in final decision-making, although they alone cannot be a reason to change course.”
Specifically, officials with Turkish company Aselsan are concerned that its connection to the deal could harm its corporate relations with Western banks.
In September, Turkey selected China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. (CPMIEC) to construct the country’s first long-range air and anti-missile defense system. The Turkish government said it opted for the Chinese solution based mainly on deliberations over price and technology transfer.
The Chinese contender defeated a US partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, offering the Patriot air defense system; Russia’s Rosoboronexport, marketing the S-300; and Italian-French consortium Eurosam, maker of the Aster 30.
Turkish officials said if contract negotiations with CPMIEC fail, talks would be opened with the second-place finisher, Eurosam. Next in line would be the US bidder. The Russian option has been eliminated.
But NATO and US officials have said any Chinese-built system could not be integrated with Turkey’s joint air defense assets with NATO and the United States.
They also have warned that any Turkish company that may act as local subcontractor in the program would face serious US sanctions because CPMIEC is on a US list of companies to be sanctioned under the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
US diplomats have said Turkish companies working on US products or technology could be subject to intense scrutiny, or requested to adopt stringent security measures to erect a wall between US technology-related activities and CPMIEC.
They said the sanctions would be imposed on any company or individual cooperating with the blacklisted companies, especially when the use of US technology is in question.
In December, Aselsan, potentially CPMIEC’s main Turkish partner in the contract, became the first casualty of the US sanctions. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, a US investment bank, pulled out of a joint bid to advise Aselsan on its second listing on Istanbul’s stock exchange, citing Turkey’s contract negotiations with CPMIEC.
Aselsan’s management shrugged it off and said it would select another bank for the task.
But the procurement official said that Aselsan’s concern over corporate repercussions has increased.
“I think they now view the deal potentially punishing for the company,” he said.
One Aselsan official admitted that after Merrill Lynch’s pullout, the company has been in talks for the underwriting with two more international banks, Barclays and Goldman Sachs. Both have echoed the same concerns, pointing to possible US sanctions.
“The press reports over difficulties with these two banks are correct,” one Aselsan official confirmed on condition of anonymity. “Other investment banks do not look promising. We may wait for a better timing for the listing.”
The difficulties over a Chinese air and anti-missile defense architecture for NATO member Turkey also were discussed during French President François Hollande’s recent visit here.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who accompanied Hollande during the Jan. 27 visit, met with Murad Bayar, Turkey’s top defense procurement official.
“Inevitably, the program was discussed at the top level, with the French raising concerns and urging the Turkish government to rethink the deal,” one senior government official said.
Similarly, the same official said, the Americans are voicing their concerns on an almost daily basis through various channels.
He said he could not comment on how the diplomatic offensive is influencing the government’s decision.
The Turkish government has extended an end-of-January deadline for the US and European competitors to rebid for the contract.
The Turkish program consists of radar, launcher and interceptor missiles to counter enemy aircraft and missiles. Turkey has no long-range air defense system.
About half of Turkey’s network-based air defense picture has been paid for by NATO. The country is part of NATO’s Air Defense Ground Environment.
Without NATO’s consent, it will be impossible for Turkey to make the planned Chinese system operable with these assets, some analysts said.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Friday that his government and US helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft had signed a long-dormant contract to co-produce an initial batch of 109 utility helicopters.
“We signed the $3.5 billion agreement today,” Erdogan said in televised remarks during a ceremony for the delivery by Boeing of Turkey’s first airborne early warning and control aircraft. “This [Sikorsky deal] was an important signing ceremony for us.”
In May, Turkey’s procurement office made an unusual announcement: Turkey “had come very close to signing a $3.5 billion contract with Sikorsky Aircraft for the co-production of scores of utility helicopters.” But penning the deal had since been delayed as top Turkish procurement management accused “US corporate and other bureaucracy” for factors that caused delays.
Turkey in 2011 selected Sikorsky as its partner company to lead production of the country’s next-generation utility helicopters. Sikorsky defeated Italian-British AgustaWestland by bidding its T-70, the Turkish version of its S-70 Black Hawk International.
The S-70 Black Hawk International is used by dozens of militaries, including Turkey. AgustaWestland was competing with its TUHP 149, the Turkish version of its newly developed A-149.
The first batch will be for 109 utility helicopters, but with follow-on orders, more than 600 platforms could be built at a cost of more than $20 billion, defense analysts said.
Most helicopters in the first batch will go to the military, with the Gendarmerie receiving the largest portion, and the Army, Navy, Air Force and the special forces command each getting their share. The remaining machines will go to the Security Directorate, meaning the police forces, and to the Firefighting Department.
Turkey is likely to start ordering F-35 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) from 2015 onwards and it will start with two orders initially, Turkey’s undersecretary for state-run defense industries Murad Bayar said on Thursday.
“We will start F-35 orders either this year or the next. Right now, it is likely to be next year,” Bayar told reporters. “We will initially order two. The delivery time will be, depending on the orders, probably in 2017-2018.”
Turkey had already announced it plans to buy 100 F-35 jets for $16 billion. Bayar said he expected the deliveries of 100 aircraft to be completed within 10 years.
The F-35, considered to be the world’s most expensive weapons program at $396 billion so far, was designed to be the next-generation fighter jet for the U.S. forces.
It is being built by the United States, Britain and seven other co-development partners – Italy, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.
Separately, Bayar said Turkey was aiming to achieve results in April on its talks with China over the purchase of long-range missile defense systems, a move highly criticized by Turkey’s NATO allies.
In September Turkey chose China’s FD-2000 missile-defense system over rival offers from Franco-Italian Eurosam SAMP/T and U.S.-listed Raytheon Co (RTN.N). It said China offered the most competitive terms and would allow co-production in Turkey.
U.S. and NATO officials have raised concerns with Turkish officials about the decision to buy the system from CPMIEC, a company hit by U.S. sanctions for sales of items to either Iran, Syria or North Korea that are banned under U.S. laws to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
“Our talks with China are ongoing. We have extended the bidding until the end of April. We are aiming to get results in early April on this,” Bayar said.
Bayar also said Turkey will seek compensation over the late delivery of the A400 military transport plane after Airbus (AIR.PA) failed to meet some of its contractual obligations.
“My message to Airbus is that it should first focus on fulfilling the terms of the contract. There is no additional bargaining here. The contract, even with the amended version, requires the fulfillment of certain technical qualities and we have had to hold these talks because these requirements were not completely fulfilled,” Bayar said.
On Wednesday, Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said bargaining was behind the delay and that it was ‘unbearable’ that the company was still negotiating with Turkey over the plane.
“The aircraft is ready to go. It is instantly, operationally fit for flight. I find the situation increasingly unacceptable,” Enders told reporters.
Bayar said he still expected the aircraft, which was supposed to have been delivered to Turkey at the end of last year, to arrive in March but Turkey was going to ask for compensation.
“Of course there has been a delay in the delivery schedule and there will be compensation because of this. This will be the financial dimension,” Bayar said.
Meanwhile, Bayar said Japan had told Turkey that it will not allow the export of a Japanese tank engine to third parties without its permission.
His comments came after Japanese media reported that a deal between Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe was struck in May, during Abe’s visit to Turkey, on the supply of engines, but that Turkey’s desire to export to third parties was likely to block the deal.
Bayar said that the potential purchase of the engine for Turkey’s Altay tank was dropped for now.
“We have agreed with Japanese authorities to leave this topic off the agenda and focus on other areas of cooperation.”
His comments appeared to close the door on a potential deal for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T) to supply engines for the Altay tank being developed by Turkey’s Otokar (OTKAR.IS).
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.
The US has reportedly earmarked $10 billion to upgrade its “dumb” B61 tactical nuclear bombs with a newer, guided version dubbed B61-12.
B61 is a tactical nuclear warhead capable of delivering a pre-determined nuclear yield of up to 50 kilotons, large enough to level a whole city. Under a nuclear sharing agreement, these warheads have been deployed to bases in Turkey, Italy, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Various sources indicate the number of B61 warheads kept in Turkey to be around ninety, forty of which have been “assigned for host country use” under strict NATO supervision.
The B61-12 upgrade involves the installation of a modern INS navigation system that will enable a pilot to release the nuclear bomb with a much higher accuracy, making it unnecessary to use maximum yield to achieve a similar effect, minimizing unwanted collateral damage on the civilian population.
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.