Turkey Approves USD6 Billion in New Defence Buys

Başlatan turkdefence, Mar 11, 2016, 11:48 ÖS

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Mar 11, 2016, 11:48 ÖS Last Edit: Mar 11, 2016, 11:55 ÖS by HARZEMŞAH
Lale Sariibrahimoglu, Ankara - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

Turkey has approved new defence procurement programmes worth USD5.9 billion, Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced after a long-awaited meeting on 9 March of the Executive Committee (EC) of the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM).

Davutoglu said that USD4.5 billion of this sum would be earmarked for locally built projects. In total around 26 programmes are understood to have been included in the EC decision, although only one was announced by Davutoglu: launching serial production of the Turkish military's new MPT-76 service rifle, of which Turkey has bought two large initial batches.

Although the SSM did not release a statement outlining the projects being discussed, IHS Jane's  has learned that the EC decided to buy eight more Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which will bring Turkey's current order book to 14, out of a total planned acquisition of 100.

IHS Jane's  has also learned that Turkey is planning to buy two or four long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) fire units from abroad: either the Raytheon Patriot or the Eurosam SAMP/T. This will be done as an urgent operational need and in parallel with Turkey's development of its own long-range SAM, which it decided to develop after cancelling its T-Loramids SAM programme in 2015.

Speaking of the indigenous SAM programme, Davutoglu said, "This project is vital for Turkey." There is also speculation that Turkey is planning to buy cruise missiles.

Included those cleared by the meeting, defence procurement projects totalling about USD12 billion are now approved and being negotiated, said Davutoglu.

He also said that the Turkish military would receive 17 more T129 attack helicopters in 2016 to assist in the restarted conflict against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

In addition, Turkey will continue to develop armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a project it has undertaken due to the United States' refusal to sell it MQ-1 Predator UAVS, and will purchase more armoured vehicles to assist in the conflict, he added. Davutoglu further noted that Turkey is planning to produce an indigenous regional airliner to be operated also by the Turkish military.

Turkey's defence procurement will run on a two-track strategy. Firstly the country will continue buying off-the-shelf equipment to meet the urgent operational needs posed by the conflict with the PKK. For the first time in the long history of this conflict, only restarted in July 2015, fighting has been taking place in the urban areas of southeast Turkey. Turkish fighter aircraft have also been carrying out frequent airstrikes at PKK targets in Northern Iraq, while Firtina 155 mm self-propelled howitzers have been shelling both Syrian Kurdish and Islamic State targets in neighbouring Syria.

On the other hand, Turkey will look to increase the local content of its defence projects in the medium and long term, said Davutoglu. Without specifying the munitions, he gave the example of local production of smart bombs to counter the PKK insurgency.

Davutoglu also announced reforms to Turkey's defence industry. "We have decided to review the defence industry structure under a new strategic concept within the framework of changing security risks and threat perceptions. We have been planning to enter into a new restructuring that will take into consideration the nationalisation of the defence industry in stages, hence reducing dependence abroad, while stakeholders will come into play with the private sector taking a leading role.

"Thus, we will develop a new political military concept for the protection of our republic and the state. The most important guarantee of Turkey's independence and freedom is to own a national defence industry," he said.

The Defence Industry Coordination Board is expected to hold a meeting in April or May that will be followed by further meetings in August or September. These will flesh out the new political military defence concept that will be finalised at a defence industry council meeting to be held at the end of 2016.

Although Davutoglu mentioned nationalising Turkey's defence industry, he was referring to increasing local defence industry content rather than an actual nationalisation of Turkey's private defence companies, local and Western defence industry sources told IHS Jane's  .

Turkey's efforts to become largely self-reliant for its defence needs are nothing new. The country has already reduced its dependence on arms imports from around 80% of its equipment needs to nearer 40%. But Turkey cannot yet develop critical technologies through local means.

Speaking to IHS Jane's  , one Western defence industry source questioned a comment by Davutoglu that, as most of the new funding will go to local companies, it will boost the Turkish economy. "Nobody in this country ever questions whether Turkey has a market to sell all the weapons it will produce locally," said the Western source.

Meanwhile, the resumption of the fighting in Turkey's southeast has put the country's urgent needs in homeland defence onto the agenda. This year's first EC meeting thus emphasised both developing technologies and buying off-the-shelf equipment to be used in the fight against the PKK and along Turkey's 900 km long border with Syria. Typically EC meetings largely focus on domestic projects.

Breaking with its previous practice, the EC failed to disclose the specifics of its decisions. This is likely to now become the rule, with the military believed to have influenced the government to further restrict public information.

Source: http://www.janes.com/article/58677/turkey-approves-usd6-billion-in-new-defence-buys Mesajı Paylaş

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