Turkey awards missile system study to Franco-Italian group, Turkish firms
Turkey took a step on Jan. 5 toward closer defense cooperation with France and Italy with a contract for a study into the development and production of a long-range air and missile defense system.
Turkey awarded the 18-month contract to the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium and its Turkish partners Aselsan and Roketsan, Eurosam said in statement.
The study, which Eurosam announced on the sidelines of a meeting in Paris of French President Emmanuel Macron and visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is to lay the ground for a development and production contract.
The three-country missile program is scheduled to be ready by the middle of the next decade and aims to defend against threats from stealth aircraft, drones and missiles, Eurosam said.
“The joint development activity is expected to support Turkey’s indigenous air and missile development program in addition to opening up prospects for exports and longer-term co-operation of Turkey, Italy and France,” Eurosam said.
The Eurosam consortium is made up of European missile maker MBDA, itself a joint venture between Airbus and Italy’s Leonardo and Britain’s BAE Systems, and French defence contractor Thales, whose main shareholders are the French state and fighter jet maker Dassault Aviation.
The French, Italian and Turkish defense ministers signed a letter of intent in November on cooperation in joint defense projects.
Erdoğan had said earlier on Jan. 5 that he would discuss defense cooperation with NATO ally France during his visit to Paris, highlighting an “important” step which Turkey would be taking with Eurosam without giving any details.
Turkey and Russia signed an accord on a loan deal for Moscow to supply Ankara with S-400 surface-to-air missiles on Dec. 29, finalizing a deal the two countries have been working on for more than a year.
The S-400 deal has caused concern in the West because Turkey is a member of NATO and the system cannot be integrated into NATO’s military architecture.