Ankara has been working on producing its own high-tech military systems for a while now. In 2013, the domestic development and production of long-range air and missile defense systems became a priority for the country and the Turkish Ministry of Defense announced that they favored an offer made by CPMIEC, the Chinese state-owned company that participated in the tender of the Turkish Long Range Air and Missile Defense Systems (T-LORAMIDS) program. The T-LORAMIDS competition attracted bids from the U.S. partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, offering the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 and Gem. T missiles; Russia's Rosoboronexport, marketing the S-300; the Chinese CPMIEC, offering its HQ-9; and the Italian-French consortium EUROSAM, maker of the Aster 30-SAMPT/T.
Raytheon and Lockheed Martin asked for at least a four times larger payment than what the Turkish financial conditions had stated though. Also, Turkey had been seeking a co-production, technology transfer and partially on-time delivery. However, the U.S. offer did not include technology transfer or co-production. The Chinese partnership included a complete system with licensed production and the promise of technology transfer. Turkey's decision saw some objections by the U.S. and NATO's objections and even some threats. NATO argued that the system could not be implemented and be integrated with the NATO system but Turkey had no intention to do so. However, Ankara decided to not take up the Chinese offer in 2015, as the content of China's technology transfer package was not meeting all of Turkey's criteria.
Subsequently, Turkey, France and Italy signed a letter of intent in July 2017 to cooperate in a joint defense project including air and missile defense systems. Accordingly, the EUROSAM consortium, backed by its two shareholders MBDA and Thales, and Turkish companies ASELSAN and ROKETSAN would look into a system based on the SAMP-T missile system produced by EUROSAM, which can fit the common needs of all three countries.
An agreement was signed in early 2018 for an 18-month long study to determine the needs and priorities for the potential joint production of an anti-ballistic missile system. It was planned to finalize the feasibility of the work by the end of 2019. The proposed system is to be a more developed version of the EUROSAM's current SAMP-T air defense systems. If the whole feasibility survey is successfully completed, the next decisions will be made.
The talks with the Italian-French consortium coincided at a moment when Turkey was under intense pressure from the United States and other NATO countries because of its plans to buy Russia's sophisticated S-400 missile systems. In December 2017, Turkey signed a contract with Russia for a single S-400 system with an option to purchase a second. Turkey also made a down payment to Russia. In the meantime, Congress legislated a bill that imposed sanctions on countries and companies purchasing military equipment from Russia. Once again, some NATO members and officials said that the S-400 systems would not be interoperable with NATO's defense architecture; Turkey has never made an official statement about the
Some NATO countries, led by the U.S., also said that the deployment of the Russian S-400 systems on NATO soil would bring security risks as if they have cared about Turkey's security concerns in the last six years. On the other hand, Turkey has blamed the U.S. for not providing the technology transfer in the first place. Ankara said it attempted to buy the U.S. made Patriot missiles, however, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin were not open to technology transfer and cooperation.
Moreover, the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands decided to pull the Patriot missiles stationed on the Turkish-Syria border in August 2015, claiming that "the nature of the threat to Turkey from Syria had changed from the conflict in Syria, one stemming mainly from the Bashar Assad regime to that posed by radical elements." The Patriots were deployed in early 2013 after Turkey asked its NATO allies for support to protect its soil, which is also a NATO territory, amid the escalating civil war in Syria.
More intriguingly, the decision came less than a month after Turkey opened its air bases to U.S. fighter jets launching air strikes against Daesh in Syria. Even though Ankara was disappointed with the Barack Obama administration-led anti-Daesh coalition's support for the outlawed PKK's Syria branch, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed branch the People's Protection Units (YPG), it was still eager to fighting Daesh together. However, it was not surprising that the PKK declared, within a month, that it had withdrawn from peace talks initiated by the then-Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2012. The PKK, which has been designated as a terrorist organization not only by Turkey, but also by the U.S. and the EU, resumed its terrorist attacks in Turkey, carrying the weapons and ammunition from Syria, which the U.S. and other western countries sent the YPG to fight Daesh on the ground.
In early October 2015, when the Patriots were about to pull out, Russian warplanes violated Turkish airspace twice during its bombing campaigns in Syria. Then in October an identified MiG-29 and Syria-based missile systems harassed Turkey's warplanes while its jets were on patrol along the border. Then on Nov. 24, a Turkish jet shot down a Russian fighter jet, which violated Turkish airspace a few times. Nevertheless, all Patriots across the Syrian border in Turkey were withdrawn in December 2015. Only the Spanish Patriot systems, which are stationed in Adana near the Incirlik base to protect the U.S. and allied forces that carry out airstrikes in Syria, were left on Turkish soil.
The downing of the jet
The downing of the jet on the Turkish-Syrian border sparked an unprecedented diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Russia. After the coup attempt by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) on July 15, 2016, a Turkish pilot who played a role in the downing of the Russian jet was detained. However, more than that, the failed coup was organized and carried out in Turkey by the former Commander of the Turkish Air Force, Akın Öztürk, who has been a puppet of FETÖ leader Fethullah Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania in the U.S. As it is known, the Gülenists were nested mostly inside the Turkish Air Force. Many in Turkey believe today that the downing of the Russian jet was to start a huge crisis between Turkey and Russia, and that would have helped the U.S.' goal in Syria, which was to make a PKK statelet in northern Syria. Starting from June 27, 2016, Turkey and Russia improved their relations and cemented ties step by step; and now the two are the leading countries working on trying to de-escalate violence in Syria and bring stability and peace.
Following U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria at the end of 2018, we have closely been following if the U.S. will keep its promise or not. If that happens, it would be a start to heal the deteriorated relations between the two NATO allies. But the zigzagging developments on the eastern side of the Euphrates show us there are people in the U.S. establishment who don't want to withdraw from Syria. They don't want to cut their support to the PKK, and also, they don't want to cooperate with Turkey inside Syria, even though Trump would like to do so. Now, we are hearing new threats with regards to Turkey's purchase of the S-400 systems from Russia, and we know that this is not really about the missile systems, since the U.S. State Department said in December last year that it had informed U.S. Congress of the approval of selling a Patriot package to Turkey, that includes 80 Patriot missiles, 60 PAC-3 missile interceptors and related equipment, worth around $3.5 billion.
Last month, the U.S. vice president warned Turkey against purchasing Russia's S-400 missile defense systems, alleging that doing so puts other members of the NATO military alliance in danger. He said that the U.S. "won't stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries," and added, "We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East."
The done deal
Even though President Erdoğan keeps saying that the S-400 purchase from Russia is a "done deal," officials in Washington say that Turkey cannot buy the Patriots if they don't give up the S-400 deal. There is no need to reiterate that the Americans have no intention to include Turkey's criteria with regards to T-LORAMIDS program as Turkey is still seeking co-production and technology transfer. However, Ankara is interested in completing the Patriot deal with its NATO ally as long as its interests are protected and unless the U.S. interferes the S-400 purchase. Recently, U.S. officials raised the level of their threats once again, saying that the-S400 purchase will "result in a reassessment of Turkey's participation in the F-35 program and risk other potential future arms transfers to Turkey, as well as lead to potential sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act [CAATSA]." We are not surprised, as we are aware that they don't even sell small components of the F-16's to Turkey, but still send arms to the outlawed PKK in Syria.
These threats are not only about the S-400 purchase by Turkey from Russia. Some in the U.S. want to squeeze Turkey in between two superpowers, Moscow and Washington. If President Erdoğan kneels down in front of Washington, he will not be a man of his word in the eyes of Vladimir Putin and the rest of the world and also jeopardize the improving situation in Syria. That is why, he sees this and raises his hand saying, "We agreed with the Russians. It is over. Maybe we will think about purchasing the S-500 as well." It is obvious that Ankara will not listen to the U.S.' threats and surrender, but also continue to work on its own production of high-tech military systems as it is aware that its NATO allies cannot be trusted when it comes to Turkey.
For instance, in December 2017, Turkey tested its HISAR-O system, a medium-altitude air defense system. In February 2018, it tested the HISAR-O's low-altitude counterpart, the HISAR-A, designed for defense against aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Both systems are expected to be deployed by 2020, and you can be sure that the more Turkey is threatened, the more it will come to meet its own defense needs.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.