With a view to securing its borders against the terror threats from northern Syria, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in the northwestern Syrian region of Afrin to eliminate the risks posed by the PKK terrorist organization's Syrian affiliate the Democratic Union Party (PYD), its armed Peoples' Protection Units (YPG), and Daesh. Since the first day of the operation on Jan. 20, Turkey has been using, to a significant extent, domestically developed military vehicles, arms and ammunition, including an indigenous radar jammer, T-155 Fırtına self-propelled howitzers, Kirpi (Turkish for "Hedgehog"), which is a locally produced mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, multiple rocket launchers, ATAK Advanced Attack and Tactical Reconnaissance helicopter and precision guided kits.
Deployed to a number of troops on the border cities of Hatay and Kilis, the T-155 Fırtına howitzers, which are manufactured in the first Army Maintenance Center Command of the Turkish Army in the industrial city of Sakarya by the Mechanical and Chemical Industry Company (MKEK), have a firing range of up to 40 kilometers.
The T-155 Fırtına (Storm) is the Turkish variant of the K9 Thunder 155 mm self-propelled howitzer of South Korea. Though essentially using the main systems of the K9 howitzer, including the South Korean designed 155/52 caliber gun system, the majority of the chassis, automatic ammunition feeding mechanism, and the German designed MTU-881 KA 500 diesel engine, the T-155 has considerable differences in its turret design, parts of the chassis, the navigation system, and electronic systems (such as the radio and fire control system), which were developed in Turkey. Turkish defense company ASELSAN developed the onboard computerized fire-control system (FCS) for Fırtına, which allows each system to receive target information from the battery command post. Fırtına can open fire within 30 seconds. According to the license agreement with Samsung Techwin, the first eight T-155s were built in South Korea, while the remaining batch of more than 300 units were produced in Turkey.
Another ammunition system used on the border, the T-122 Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL), which is a domestically developed multiple launch rocket system manufactured by Turkish defense firm ROKETSAN, can be used under any weather and land conditions. Armed with the most developed and modern system, the T-122 MBRL provides firing support for the troops advancing in Afrin.
The system consists of two pods of 122 mm launch tubes which are hydraulically traversed and elevated. It is equipped with a state-of-the-art fire control system which calculates firing data automatically for rockets with different warheads and is capable of storing up to 20 target coordinates. The rockets for the system were developed and manufactured by MKEK and ROKETSAN. The T-122 is equipped with modern subsystems to provide lethal indirect mass fires on the targets from 3 kilometers to 40-plus kilometers in depth.
The T-129 Advanced Attack and Tactical Reconnaissance Helicopter, which was employed for the first as part of the Afrin offensive, fires laser-guided ROKETSAN production Cirit missiles onto targets delicately marked by land forces.
The T-129 ATAK helicopter is a new generation, tandem, two-seat, twin-engine helicopter specifically designed for attacks and reconnaissance. Developed from the combat-proven AgustaWestland A129CBT, the new aircraft incorporates a new system philosophy with a new engine - LHTEC CTS 800-4A - new avionics, sight systems and weapons, modified airframe, uprated drive train and a new tail rotor.
It was the helicopter Ankara selected in 2007 for the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), the development and production of which will be assured by the ATAK Team, a joint partnership between Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and Italian helicopter design and manufacturing firm AgustaWestland.
Empowered against rocket and mine threats, domestically produced Kirpi (hedgehog) transfers Turkish land forces across the border. A mine resistant ambush protected vehicle, Kirpi was developed by the Turkish BMC company to meet a Land Forces Command requirement. The vehicle has a shielded position for the gunner on top of the roof. It is operated manually and can rotate through 360 degrees. This MRAP can be armed with a 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine gun. This vehicle is also available with remote-controlled weapons station. Also there are numerous firing port provided for the troops. Most of them have associated vision blocks.
Among the other military equipment deployed for Olive Branch Operation is another indigenous production, the armored combat vehicle AKINCI. Having a sniper tower, AKINCI armored combat vehicles are ready to be deployed at the border. The vehicle is developed by Turkish defense firm FNSS.
Moreover, equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, domestically developed unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) are being deployed at the Afrin offensive. Selçuk Bayraktar, the technical manager at the BAYKAR Makine UAV manufacturing company, said on his social media account that for the first time, newly developed technologies were used in a military operation. He said that the national UAVs were on duty in Afrin, adding that he and his technical team were on the field to support the TSK.
A land-based transportable electronic warfare system developed to jam and deceive hostile radars, KORAL was also used during the Afrin operations. It is designed and manufactured by ASELSAN for the TSK under the Land Based Stand-off Jammer System project which started in 2009.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Sunday that 70-75 percent of the used ammunition was domestically made, and that the most important weapon being used in the offensive was domestically made UAVs.