Turkish defense industry products have been making global headlines recently, and there are basic reasons behind this.
One is that the country’s defense sector, which has entered a period of domestic production, has thrilled the sector with this move and is open to growing more, and the other is that it has developed battle-proven products and put them on the market – the Bayraktars.
Yet, what is even more appealing when it comes to the country’s defense sector, the world-famous unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) that now hunt down Russian military gear from Ukrainian airspace – are just a part of a wide range of the product spectrum that Turkish companies can offer.
Those aware of that have been closely following the developments as well as fairs and events where Turkish companies are showcasing their products and are conducting negotiations for cooperation, the latest of which is the SAHA Expo 2022 currently being held in Istanbul.
The defense fair was kicked off Tuesday and will run through Friday with several local and foreign companies taking part with products from newly unveiled smart ammunition to unmanned land and air vehicles.
Particularly drawing attention, there is one product that is expected to make headlines when its time has come and whose production saw the involvement of a company that already produced and sold smart ammunition used against heavy military gear in different parts of the world, from Syria to Ukraine and Libya, mostly belonging to the Russian army.
A joint work of Türkiye’s leading company in the production of tactical mini unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), STM, and rocket and missile production giant Roketsan, the smart loitering munition, also known as suicide or kamikaze drone, was initially unveiled at the fair.
The two companies have joined forces for the munition called Alpagut, which stands out with its cost-effectiveness and operational flexibility compared to cruise missiles.
Alpagut, which can operate day and night, is dubbed to be effective against mobile or fixed land and sea targets, radar and communication systems, lightly armored land or sea vehicles, and critical facilities such as command centers.
The munition, which will have an operational radius of 60 kilometers (37 miles), an airtime of more than 60 minutes and different types of warheads, can be used in both single and swarm concepts.
Alpagut can detect a target without being noticed with its two-mode seeker head, and its position is not affected by jamming systems. The target can be pinpointed with the precision guidance-control drive system. In addition to all these features, the system also offers significant advantages to its users with its fire-and-forget feature.
Sharing features of both cruise missiles and UCAVs, a loitering munition means that a munition loiters or waits passively, around the target area for some time and attacks only once a target is located.
A concealed or hidden target can be eliminated with a loitering munition fast enough without placing high-value platforms close to the target area.
Alpagut is expected to be integrated into UCAVs and helicopters, namely Akıncı, Aksungur, Anka and Bayraktar TB3 UCAVs and Gökbey and Atak-2 helicopters; on land platforms such as armored vehicles and unmanned land vehicles; and on naval platforms such as MILGEM (National Ship) Ada-class corvettes and unmanned marine crafts.
Speaking at the cooperation protocol of Alpagut at the fair, Ismail Demir, head of the Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB), said “two important institutions of the Turkish defense industry, Roketsan and STM, have joined forces for the smart loitering ammunition system Alpagut” which will be “an effective force against radar and communication systems, critical facilities such as command centers as well as land and sea targets.”
Roketsan General Manager Murat Ikinci, also speaking at the event, said: “As a result of our successful cooperation with STM, we are bringing this technology, which is suitable for the changing concepts of the war field, to Türkiye.”
“We can already see that Alpagut, which we developed primarily to meet the needs of the Turkish Armed Forces and security forces, will also have a significant export potential and will reinforce Türkiye’s leading role in the defense industry,” he said.
STM General Manager Özgür Güleryüz also noted that they “are taking STM's experience and competence in the field of smart ammunition to a different level with the cooperation of Roketsan.”
“We consider that Alpagut will be a game changer and a striking force in the field for the armies of friendly and brotherly countries, particularly for our security forces,” he said.
Alpagut was not the only loitering munition that debuted at SAHA Expo. Türkiye introduced another newly unveiled kamikaze drone: Deli.
Another Turkish defense company, Gürbağ Defense Technologies introduced its Intelligent Defense System (GIDS), which comprises a radar, electro-optics, hydrogen-propelled launcher and communication systems mounted on a trailer.
GIDS can automatically detect and track asymmetric targets and is capable of launching UAVs and guided ammunition, offering an integrated solution ranging from target detection to prevention.
The system, whose software was developed domestically by the company, is expected to enter the inventory soon.
A hydrogen-fed propulsion system used in the launcher of the GIDS System allow its launchers to be used more than once after the ammunition is fired, unlike classic launcher systems, which according to the company officials marks one of the most important features of the system.
With the system, the ammunition is also exposed to much less shock, thus eliminating the risk of possible malfunctions.
After air and land, next is the naval platforms.
SAVER Defense, a subsidiary of ERMAKSAN, introduced the KAAN 40 mm double-barreled naval gun within the scope of the SAHA Expo.
Developed as a domestic alternative to the 40 mm DARDO close-in weapon system (CIWS) currently used in corvettes of the Turkish navy’s inventory, the KAAN 40 mm naval gun is aimed to be integrated into the domestic surface platforms to be built in the future as well.
The factory tests of the naval gun, whose fire control system was developed by Turkish defense giant Aselsan and whose barrels were manufactured by ERMAKSAN, continue. All tests are scheduled to be completed in 24 months and it will be ready for integration into marine platforms.
Haven’t you already seen the videos circulating on social media of Türkiye’s armed dog, or SARBOT, the new product of autonomous artificial intelligence (AI) technology, the prototype of which was showcased by Turkish arms maker Sarsılmaz at the Istanbul fair?
Sarsılmaz now takes its place among the leading brands of the world with its new technological weapon.
“We are working for robotic weapons that can move for every purpose on every platform, walk in difficult terrain conditions and destroy threats,” company officials said at the fair.
The SARBOT robotic weapon is expected to be put into the service in the coming years, with calibers to be scaled differently.
Sarsılmaz, together with TR Mechatronics Systems has also displayed for the first time the 20 mm Nose-Mounted Cannon for the country’s T129 attack helicopters.
The integration process of the cannon to the chopper, which is in the inventories of the Turkish army and gendarmerie forces, has already begun.
The rotating barrel turreted cannon system is capable of firing 750 pieces of 20 mm caliber ammunition per minute.
Although all these products will contribute to meeting the needs of the country’s army and security forces, what Turkish companies have in common is the belief one can hear across the fair: There will be more news and breakthroughs from the Turkish defense sector in the coming period.