Turkey ‘upgrades’ capacity of armed forces with A400M

Turkey ‘upgrades’ capacity of armed forces with A400M

Turkey ‘upgrades’ capacity of armed forces with A400M

Abdullah Gül attended an official handover ceremony at the 12th Air Transportation Main Base Command in Erkilet in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri for Turkey’s first A400M tactical transport aircraft from the Airbus consortium. AA Photo

Turkey is continuing its policy of strengthening its armed forces to meet the challenges of the country’s difficult regional neighborhood, President Abdullah Gül said yesterday as military officials took possession of a new A400M aircraft from Airbus called the Atlas.

“Turkey is located in a thorny region. There is no doubt that Turkey’s rulers have always been determined to increase the deterrence of the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] and meet all kinds of needs within the framework of threat perception,” Gül said in a speech at an official handover ceremony at the 12th Air Transportation Main Base Command in Erkilet in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri for the first Atlas from the Airbus consortium.

The handover was formalized at the Airbus’s final assembly line in Seville on April 4, ending a months-long controversy over whether the aircraft met technical specifications.

“Today, we are quite proud to equip our air transportation fleet with the future’s international military transportation aircraft and make [the fleet] much stronger. We are taking the first of 10 aircraft in total,” Gül said, while recalling that Turkey had already put into service the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft as part of the project entitled “Peace Eagle” at a ceremony held at the 3rd Main Jet Base Command in Konya, also in the Central Anatolia region, in February.

“Actually, this is an ‘upgrade’ of the current capacity of the TSK, it is raising its current capacity. I have particularly used the word ‘upgrade’ because C160s and C130s have already been in our inventory and we have been using them,” Gül said.

The president cited the transportation of special police forces from and to Iraq, sorties as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and natural disasters in the eastern Anatolian province of Van and Pakistan as some of the many occasions in which the aircraft have been used.

“What has emerged today is a part of NATO’s new defense doctrine which is called ‘Smart Defense.’ A capacity of transportation at this scale and speed has the ability to decide the fate of a military struggle in war conditions. That’s why the step that we have taken is very valuable,” he added.

“If the right decisions are not made when the day comes, big opportunities disappear,” Gül said, offering thanks to former civilian and military leaders of the country for their appropriate decisions in the past.

Turkey is the second country after France to add an A400M to its inventory, Gül said, adding that such aircraft would help Turkey display its potential to contribute to the humanitarian and peacekeeping operations of the European Union, NATO and the United Nations.

Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, Air Force Command Chief Gen. Akın Öztürk and some retired chiefs of the Air Force Command were present at the handover ceremony.

“A Turkey with deterrence in its region will also be an assurance for peace and stability in the region,” Yılmaz said during another speech at the ceremony.

For his part, Öztürk touched upon the strategic dimension of possessing such developed aircraft.
“The Atlas airplane, which has high cargo capacity and a long range, is an important addition to the Turkish Armed Forces; a requirement of a big and influential air force which can perform operations without being dependent on the land; and a strategic capability for our state,” Öztürk said in a speech.