Turkey awards over $1 billion defense contracts in one week

Turkey awards over $1 billion defense contracts in one week

Burak Bekdil
Turkey awards over $1 billion defense contracts in one week

AA Photo

The last week of the year saw Turkey’s defense procurement authorities signing deals worth over $1 billion in what procurement officials called a “pure coincidence.”

“Those were programs that had been ongoing for a long time. It is a coincidence that the announcements came one after the other within a week,” one procurement official said.

Defense industry sources said the procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), probably wanted to wrap up some of the programs ready for a decision as the financial year closed. “The SSM may have wanted to complete some of its checklist before the new financial [year] opened,” one source said.

In the largest of the three deals, SSM selected a local shipyard to award the country’s first-ever contract for the acquisition of a Landing Platform Dock (LPD). Industry sources estimate the contract totals around $500 million.

SSM said it picked up Sedef Gemi İnşaati A.Ş., a privately owned Istanbul shipyard, to open contract negotiations for the LPD program. It said that if contract negotiations with Sedef failed, talks would open with the second-comer, DESAN Deniz İnşaat Sanayi A.Ş. SSM opened the competition in 2010.

Turkey has long been aiming to bolster its amphibious vessel fleet. The LPD program, one of its most ambitious efforts, is designed to deploy a battalion-sized force of up to 1,000 troops and personnel, eight utility helicopters, three UAVs, 13 tanks and 81 armored vehicles to crisis zones in the three international seas around Turkey.

Just a day before the announcement on the LPD program, the Turkish government signed a critical contract for the serial production of two different versions of the Hürkuş, an indigenous trainer aircraft developed by the Tusaş Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI).

Turkey’s top decision-maker overseeing defense procurement, the Defense Industry Executive Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, ruled Sept. 26 to open contract negotiations with TAI for the serial production of the Hürkuş.

TAI said the Hürkuş-A, an analog cockpit base model, made its maiden flight on Aug. 23 and has flown a total of 800 hours in 15 sorties since then.

The contract involves the production of 15 Hürkuş-Bs, an advanced version with advanced avionics. Turkish military electronics specialist Aselsan will be tasked with producing modern military avionics for the aircraft.

TAI also said the contract involved conceptual design work for the Hürkuş-C, an armed aircraft with aerial support, reconnaissance and surveillance roles.

The two-seat Hürkuş will have a maximum lifespan of 10,500 flight hours, or about 35 years. The turboprop has a single 1,600-horsepower engine and can fly up to 10,577 meters (nearly 35,000 feet) at a maximum speed of 574 kilometers per hour.

The Hürkuş will be equipped for day and night flying, as well as for basic pilot training, instrument flying, navigation training, and weapons and formation training. It will have good visibility from both cockpits, with a 50-degree down-view angle from the rear cockpit, ejection seats, an on-board oxygen generation system, an environmental control system, an anti-G system, and shock-absorbing landing gear for training missions.

And on Dec. 23 Turkish military electronics specialist Aselsan signed a $167.4 million contract with the Turkish government to build an X-band satellite communications system.

Officials say the program aims to boost military data sharing and command of Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

In an Oct. 23 interview with Defense News, SSM chief Murad Bayar said Turkey would add satcom capabilities to the Anka, the country’s first indigenously built UAV.

Bayar said the Anka’s design would evolve over time after consultations with the Air Force about what modifications or additions might be needed.

“The most critical modification from the original design will be the satcom capability, which we have decided to add to the aircraft,” he said.

Industry experts say satcom is considered to be an ideal solution for UAV operations. One expert said satcom would be a critical enabler of UAV operations. “It will enable extended-range data capture and transfer. A kind of multiplier, in a way,” the SSM official said.

Turkey recently signed a contract with TAI for an initial purchase of 10 Ankas.

The Anka is a medium-altitude, long-endurance drone. Such UAVs usually can operate for 24 hours at an altitude of 10,000 feet.