Turkey’s defence and aerospace industry has increased exports by 22.74% in the first five months of 2018, compared with the same period last year.
According to the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TIM) in June, total sector exports during the period were U$784.5 million. Of this figure, $298.7 million were destined for North America, $238.2 to EU states, $15 to other European nations, $102.2 to the Middle East, $29.8 to the Commonwealth of Independent States, $50.2 to other Asian countries, $23.5 to Africa and $17.1 to the Far East.
The top ten importing nations in the period were: the USA ($292.1), Germany ($100.8), Oman ($71.9), India ($34.7), France ($34.1), the Netherlands ($33.2), the UK ($23.6), Azerbaijan ($16.1), Senegal ($12.3) and Italy ($10.2). [Note: all figures in millions except where otherwise stated].
As a flagship of the Turkish defence and aerospace sector and a well-established global player in its fields of activity, Aselsan secured around $1.12 billion in contracts, domestic and export, in the first five months of 2018.
Further lucrative contracts have followed in June: the company signed two contracts with SSM on 5 June valued at some TL1.5 billion (around $332.8 million) to deliver a Digital Communication Network and upgrade existing IFF systems to NATO Mark XIIA Mode 5/S level. Aselsan will conduct development, series production and integration of a total of 699 Mode 5/S compatible indigenous IFF systems (interrogators and transponders with national and NATO crypto modules) and will develop a long-range (up to 450km) interrogator and a national IFF Mode 5/S system for F-16C/Ds in the Turkish Air Force inventory.
With this contract Turkey will become one of five countries in the world that has the capability to develop and produce indigenous NATO-standard IFF systems. The current Mode 4 IFF interrogator systems will become obsolete as of 2020, so Turkey has to upgrade or replace them with Mode 5/S compatible systems. Aselsan, in cooperation with Netas and TüBiTAK BILGEM, has successfully developed an indigenous Mk XIIA Mode 5/S IFF system under a contract awarded by the MoND in 2006, delivering the first two prototypes in 2013. These prototypes, with short-medium range interrogation capability, were installed on an F-4E 2020 aircraft and a KALKAN air defence radar for performance tests in 2012.
In May 2016, the company secured a new $28 million contract from the MoND to deliver an undisclosed number of Mode 5 systems.
On 8 June, Aselsan secured a $150 million contract from Nurol Makina to deliver an undisclosed number of SARP RCWS, KORNET-E ATGM launchers and IGLA SAM launchers for the Qatar Emiri Special Forces’ NMS/YORUK 4x4 vehicles. Deliveries will be completed in 2018.
Under a contract awarded during DIMDEX 2018, Nurol Makina will deliver 214 YORUKs to this customer. During a media event in May Aselsan Deputy General Manager Mustafa Kaval disclosed that the company manufactures seven SARPs per day, or about 150 per month. Some 1,458 have been manufactured as of May, 10% for export customers such as Kazakhstan and Qatar. According to Mr. Kaval, the unit cost is around $200,000.
During a 29 March meeting of the DIEC, the highest decision-making body on defence procurement in Turkey, BMC was selected as the prime contractor for the series production phase of the ALTAY MBT and the associated National Power Pack Development Programme (BATU). SSM was authorised to start contractual negotiations with BMC. On 24 April, Undersecretary for Defence Industries Ismail Demir announced that such negotiations would now start, with a quantity of 250 tanks in mind.
Series production of the ALTAY is expected to start in late 2019 or early 2020 at BMC’s Karasu facilities. is expected to start during late 2019 or in early 2020. SSM held a project kick-off meeting on 24 May to discuss goals and expectations.
ALTAY pre-prototypes (MTR and FTR) and prototypes (PV-1 and PV-2) are powered by EuroPowerpacks mounted in a ‘U’ configuration. Otokar received five powerpacks from MTU under a €12 million contract signed in 2010. The EuroPowerpack incorporates a V-12 MTU MT883 Ka-501CR diesel engine (27.35l, dry weight 1,800kg) coupled to a Renk HSWL 295TM automatic transmission (dry weight 2,450kg) and a cooling and air filtration system.
Some of the ALTAY MBTs to be produced in the first two series production batches (each of 250 vehicles) are intended to be equipped with an indigenous powerpack. On 14 June, BMC Power was awarded a contract by SSM under the BATU programme for development of the powerpack, with a 1,500hp diesel engine to be coupled with a hydro-mechanical transmission. SSM will retain full intellectual property and export rights. The national solution will be mounted in a ‘U’ configuration and will feature a cross-drive automatic transmission. Testing and qualification will be conducted at a new test centre to be established under the project.
BMC Power was also selected by DIEC for the New Generation Armoured Combat Vehicle (NGACV) Power Pack Development Programme in 2016, with a contract between the company and SSM being signed in 2017. The company will design, develop, test, qualify and deliver a power pack consisting of a 675kW (905hp), V8 18l diesel engine coupled with an automatic transmission on a 68-month schedule. The contract became effective on 4 January 2018. BMC states that 200 engineers, including 70 foreigners, are working on the powerpack.
In a televised interview on 12 June, Turkish Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli disclosed that a contract has been signed with an unspecified company for the development and manufacture of a new UCAV dubbed AKINCI (Raider), and that the first delivery will take place in 2020.
On the same day images of the AKINCI were released for the first time by Selcuk Bayraktar, Baykar Makina Chief Techology Officer (CTO) and son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, together with an announcement that production has begun.
With a service ceiling of 40,000ft, AKINCI will have a maximum take-off weight of 4.5t, a payload capacity of 1,350kg (900 external, 450kg internal), 24 hours endurance and be powered by two 550hp turboprops. The UAV will have a 20m wingspan, is 12.5m long and 4.1m high and is be equipped with indigenously developed SATCOM, CATS FLIR, wide area surveillance system, ELINT/SIGINT system, ESM pod, collision avoidance system, multi-role AESA radar and a SAR/GMTI radar. It can be armed with a wide range of air-to-ground munitions, including Roketsan’s MAM-L, MAM-C, CIRIT, Mk81 and Mk82 general-purpose bombs, smart munitions (such as HGK, KGK and LGK) with various guidance kits and the SOM air launched cruise missile. According to Baykar Makina General Manager Haluk Bayraktar, AKINCI may be equipped with air-to-air missile systems domestically developed in Turkey: “The AKINCI UAV system will have [the] most developed state-of-the art technology in its own class within three years.”
DefMin Canikli and SSM Demir provided details on the HISAR-U National Long Range Air Defence System and Enhanced Long Range Area Air and Missile Defence System [GUMS/UMBHFSS] Projects.
In a 12 June, television interview Minister Canikli disclosed that the HISAR-U will be ineffective against ballistic missile targets and can only be used against air breathing targets, including fighter jets, UAVs and cruise missiles. He also disclosed it will have an effective range of 70-90km, while Mr. Demir stated in an earlier interview that the system will be ready for serial production in 2022-2023.
The governing contract was signed between SSM and Aselsan, Roketsan and TüBiTAK SAGE on 15 January this year. The following day Aselsan announced that its share would amount to €279.3 million and that the company would complete deliveries in 2021.
The system architecture predicates each squadron will have a long-range search radar, a squadron control centre and two batteries, each consisting of a fire control centre, a fire control radar and four missile launchers. In early June, SSM released a considerable volume of information on the GUMS/UMBHFSS project, revealing that EuroSam was selected as the technical support provider and that on the company signed an agreement with Aselsan and Roketsan to jointly conduct an 18-month concept definition study for, “preparing the development and production contract.”
The conceptual studies are being carried out on an air and missile defence system that is apparently more advanced than Eurosam’s SAMP-T. The GUMS/UMBHFSS will be equipped with Ka-Band RF seeker and would be able to intercept incoming ballistic missiles at altitudes in excess of 30km, with a hit-to-kill capability.
Turkey is also carrying out a number of very short-, short-, medium- and long-range air defence system projects including; S-400 TRIUMPH, HISAR-A, HISAR-O, HISAR-O+, HISAR-G+, HISAR-G, HISAR NOKTA (Point), HISAR Air Base/Seaport, National MANPADS, KORKUT and KORKUT-D.
After lengthy negotiations, a deal with Russia to acquire the S-400 TRIUMPH systems was finalised on 29 December 2017. The $2.5 billion deal covers the purchase of two S-400 battalions with four batteries, with the first deliveries to be made in March 2020, according to Rostec Corporation’s Seregy Chemezov, although Presidents Erdogan and Putin later agreed to expedite delivery, with Mr Demir confirming in April that delivery has been rescheduled for July 2019.
According to SSM statements in June, TüBiTAK-SAGE’s short-range IIR guidance GÖKDOGAN (Peregrin) and medium-range RF guidance BOZDOGAN (Merlin) AAMs are also planned for deployment with HISAR-A/O launchers. The former is a visual range missile with a reach of 25km whereas the latter, equipped with Aselsan’s solid-state, single source Ku-Band active RF seeker with a mechanical gimbal is a beyond visual range system (65km) with advanced counter-measure capability and an updated datalink.
On 4 June, DefMin Canikli disclosed that Turkey is in the final stages of signing an agreement for the export of four indigenous warships to an undisclosed country, underlining this would be the largest ever Turkish defence system export.
“We have been in the final talks to export four MilGem [National Vessel] corvettes. When this agreement is finalised, we will be making Turkey’s largest defence export….. Its cost will amount to almost 25% of Turkey’s total agricultural exports,” the Minister told journalists in Ankara.
According to informed sources the customer is Saudi Arabia and the project carries a price tag of about $4.5 billion. STM has been negotiating with Saudi authorities for the sale of five ADA-class corvettes since 2016 and a preliminary contract was expected to be inked during IDEF in 2017 – but was not. In April 2018, Saudi Arabia signed a $2.2 billion framework agreement with Spain to purchase five AVANTE 2200 corvettes from state-owned shipbuilder Navantia, the contract also including construction of a naval base.
Pakistan has also formally declared interest in purchasing four customised ADA-class corvettes and Turkey will provide a $400 million loan to help finance the acquisition. A formal contract has not yet been signed but, according to Pakistani media, four ADAs would be built at Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KS&EW) in Pakistan over a 10-year period under a $1 billion contract.
Constructed under the MilGem programme and representing Turkey’s first locally designed, developed and constructed corvette-type combat vessel, the ADA corvette is a modern littoral combat warship using extensive stealth technology in her design. As the Turkish Navy’s newest and most advanced vessels, they have a mono-hull form with an overall length of 99.5m, beam of 14.4m, displacement of 2,300t and a range of 3,500nm at cruise speed. They carry a 10t helicopter (S-70B SEAHAWK) and can achieve speeds of 31 knots. The Turkish Navy currently operates two of the class, with construction of the third and fourth vessels continuing at Istanbul Naval Shipyard Command. SSM figures indicate a unit cost of about €250 million.
The election manifesto of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), released ahead of the 24 June Presidential and General Election, states that, “a very short while ago a contract for the sale of 30 T129 ATAK helicopters was signed with Pakistan.”
Turkish Aerospace (TAI) announced on 13 July that negotiations with the Pakistani Ministry of Defence Production have been finalised and that as a result the Pakistan Army will received 30 T129 ATAK Helicopters and a comprehensive package of support measures, to include logistics, munitions, spare parts, ground support equipment and training. Story here.
TAI is prime contractor for the manufacture and delivery of nine T129As, 50 T129Bs (29 in Phase I and 21 in Phase II configurations) to the TLF and 27 T129Bs to the Turkish Ministry of Interior: 18 for TGGC and nine for the Turkish Police, delivering at the rate of two per month. As of 1 June, TAI has delivered 9/26 T129A/Bs to TLF and three T129Bs to the TGGC.
The sale marks a significant breakthrough for the Turkish defence and aerospace industry, marking the largest ever defence system export in a single project – a record currently held by Otokar’s $661 million contract with the UAE for the RABDAN 8x8 amphibious vehicle.
Kubilai Han is Mönch’s Turkish correspondent.