ISTANBUL --- In his first visit abroad in 2018, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has put efforts to minimize Turkey's security vulnerability against external air threats at the center of his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace where the two leaders are expected to discuss the future of the joint Eurosam consortium, an inter-governmental project that will develop defense systems, including air and missile defense systems.
The expected agreement will enhance and speed up Turkey's initiatives to develop its domestic air defense industry in the long run and will also ensure to meet its short-term needs in air defense capability, particularly in long-range air defense missiles, Turan Oğuz, a defense industry researcher said. On Nov. 8, Turkey signed the joint Eurosam consortium agreement with the Italian and French defense ministers in an inter-governmental agreement at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The project with Eurosam, the producer of surface-to-air missile platform/terrain (SAMP/T) and Aster 30 long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, will strengthen defense ties between the three countries in general and particularly in air and missile defense.
"The meetings in France will discuss feasibility surveys and allocate the division of labor between the parties. It will set the agenda on how to go forward. The feasibility survey is expected to be completed in 24 months once signed, and then the next decisions will be made," the defense strategist Turan Oğuz said.
Given the threats in its region hit by civil wars, particularly after the emergence of terrorist groups such as Daesh and the People's Protection Units (YPG) in 2011, NATO-member Turkey acquired U.S. Patriot defense systems to be deployed in the southeastern part of the country. Four Patriot batteries were deployed in Turkey in 2013, but they were removed in 2015, leaving the country vulnerable to threats. Previously, Ankara had also looked into a possible deal with China in 2015 for $3.4 billion to develop a long-range missile defense system, but it was canceled by Ankara, which had said then that the focus would be on developing domestic systems.
On Dec. 29, Turkey finalized the S-400 missile defense systems deal with Russia, which includes the purchase of two S-400 surface-to-air missile systems and four batteries, costing Ankara $2.5 billion as part of the country's attempts to meet its defense needs.
Oğuz said that while Ankara has purchased the S-400 air missile systems from Russia, their incompatibility with NATO systems would not allow their use to full capability, creating a need for a system that works with current NATO systems.
"Turkey currently has been developing the Hisar-A low altitude air defense system and HİSAR-O medium-range air defense system by ASELSAN and Roketsan since 2007. The Hisar-A will be completed by 2020, and the medium-range defense system's prototype will be completed by 2021. Turkey's ASELSAN has also completed the development of KORKUT, a self-propelled air defense gun system for effective ground-based air defense against air threats.
“In addition, Turkey is also developing high-altitude and long-range missiles, which are expected to be ready in 10 years," Oğuz said, adding that the consortium with Eurosam will significantly contribute to Turkey's aim of developing an air defense umbrella against elements threatening its national security, which will also be compatible with NATO systems. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Daily Sabah website.