PARIS --- Turkey has signed an agreement to develop a new anti-defense system based on the French-Italian SAMP/T*, and plans to launch its full-scale development in 2019.
The Heads of Agreement document was signed by two Turkish state-controlled companies, Aselsan and Roketsan, and the Eurosam consortium, the Paris-based joint venture company that is co-owned by missile house MBDA and electronics group Thales.
Signature of the agreement was announced by Turkish defense minister Fikri Isik during the Bastille Day reception at the French Embassy in Ankara on July 14, and was first reported by the Anadolu news agency.
Sources say the initial agreement covers a 24-month definition phase funded by the Turkish government, and barring major problems will immediately lead into the full-scale development phase, which is projected to begin in late 2019 or early 2020 at the latest.
Eurosam did not respond to e-mailed requests for comment, and MBDA declined to comment.
The agreement with Eurosam does not mean Turkey is dropping plans to buy the S-400 Triumf air-defense system from Russia.
Turkey’s plan is to buy the S-400 as an interim solution to intercept threats at long ranges, out to 200 km and beyond, and to develop a new system, together with Eurosam, to provide anti-missile cover at shorter ranges. This future system would use a second, more powerful but less maneuverable missile, for anti-aircraft protection at long ranges. It also would require at least two, and possibly three, different radars, for long-range surveillance and for missile guidance.
Both new missiles, however, would be operated by the same Command and Control system developed with Eurosam.
The success of the agreement with Eurosam, however, depends on the level of technology that France and Italy are willing to share with Turkey, whose current government is not especially in favor in Western Europe.