Pakistani Turkish Defense Ties Continue to Deepen | World Defense

Pakistani Turkish Defense Ties Continue to Deepen


Nov 27, 2014
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Saudi Arabia
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ISLAMABAD — The Pakistan-Turkey defense industrial relationship continues to deepen with more bilateral projects being promoted and undertaken such as aircraft, ships and tanks.

"As a matter of policy, we encourage Turkish industry to broaden their business activity and defense cooperation with Pakistan," said a senior official with Turkey's Under Secretariat for Defence Industries. "Not only do the two countries have a fraternal relationship, politically speaking, but also there are prospective areas for technology sharing and joint development. We do not view Pakistan as a market but as a present and future partner."

A London-based Turkey specialist, however, highlighted the restrictions.

"Obviously both sides are keen to cooperate more than past and present. One major problem could be Pakistan's fiscal constraints."

The latest agreement was signed between Pakistan's Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) and Turkey's Nurol Technologies at Pakistan's biennial defense show, the International Defence Exhibition And Seminar 2014 (IDEAS2014), held Dec. 1-4 in Karachi.

A HIT spokesman confirmed Nurol will transfer technology to help HIT manufacture armored vehicles to B7-plus protection levels.

HIT already cooperates with Turkish companies such as defense electronics firm Aselsan, a representative of which said the two sides have cooperated for about 10 years.

As a result, Aselsan has supplied sighting and other sub-systems for Pakistan's Al-Zarrar/upgraded Type-59 tanks and Ukrainian-supplied T-80UD, and transferred radio design and manufacture technology.

He said it was possible Aselsan could supply technology developed for Turkey's Leopard II upgrade and Altay tank programs for Pakistan's Al-Khalid, but claimed Aselsan had not yet been contacted in this regard.

HIT officials say a key item sought for the Al-Khalid is a third generation thermal imaging sight such as the Altay's.

Analyst Usman Shabbir of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank said that since the French Al Khalid sight is too expensive, and the Franco-Pakistani defense relationship has deteriorated, Turkey is a viable alternative supplier.

He believes there may be further benefits in deepening the Pakistani-Turkish defense relationship that could allow export of the Al-Khalid, hitherto prevented by high foreign sub-systems content.

Indigenization of sub-systems and others from Turkey will potentially change this.

"I don't see any issue with exporting Al-Khalid with Turkish sub-systems as we are not competing for the same market, and Pak/Turkish relations are also deep and very well established," he said.

Aselsan is also partnered with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), and defense software firm Havelsan in bidding to upgrade Pakistan's ATR-72 patrol aircraft after the tender was reopened shortly before IDEAS2014.

Havelsan's Nejat Gokbakar (who revealed Havelsan had also submitted an independent proposal) and TAI's Gokberk Ozturk said the Pakistan Navy was impressed after examining the Turkish Navy's ATR-72s, the standard of which is now being offered to Pakistan. They are optimistic of success.

Ozturk also revealed TAI hopes to build upon giving subcontracting work on the Anka UAV to Pakistan Aeronautical Complex by "looking for opportunities to export it to Pakistan."

"We're aware the Pakistan Air Force is using FLIR-equipped C-130s, so the Anka is far better suited in every respect," he added.

TAI is pursuing multiple avenues of business with Pakistan, including promoting the T-129 helicopter.

Ozcan Ertem, executive vice president and head of Aircraft Group, said TAI is also ready to explore any opportunity to supply a variant of its Hurkus turboprop trainer.

However, one Turkish aviation expert said the Turkish military's persistent push to buy an extra batch of Korean-made KT-1 basic trainers could prune export prospects for the Hurkus.

"The reluctant potential buyers could include Pakistan, given the message of uncertainty over the Hurkus," he said.

The Turkish military has signed a deal with TAI to buy 10 Hurkus, but is pressing for a follow-on order from Korean Aerospace Industries for 15 KT-1s in an approximately $150 million deal. In 2007, Turkey and KAI signed a contract for the sale of an initial batch of 40 KT-1s, with an option for 15 more. The industry widely views the Turkish move to buy new KT-1s as a sign of mistrust in TAI's delivery schedule, planned for 2017-18.

Yonca Onuk, maker of advance composite fast attack, interception, and patrol craft, also seeks to deepen its relationship with Pakistan. Having already supplied it with MRTP-15 and MRTP-33 boats, it is now hoping for success with its MRTP-34.

Ekber I.N. Onuk said the MRTP-34, (of which he said Qatar has purchased three), was an improvement of the MRTP-33, which Pakistan's Navy has praised for "excellent sea keeping and handling qualities" plus lethality and versatility.

Consequently, he believes the MRTP-34 "is a boat the Pakistan Navy needs," specifically for operations in and around the contested Indo-Pakistani maritime border.

"The MRTP-34, when operated in the Creeks area, in conjunction with a network-centric warfare capability, means that they would be as lethal as a cobra in the bushes," he said.

Also being promoted is the larger, more capable MRTP-45, and there are hopes for wider cooperation.

"We see people have understood the strength of the Turkish defense industry, and we will be able to provide state-of-the-art naval platforms, equipped with state-of-the-art systems, including anti-ship missiles," Onuk said.

Therefore, the company is in talks to build its largest design, the MRTP-65, at Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KSEW). The steel hull and composite superstructure will be fabricated in Pakistan through technology transfer.

Shabbir said "Yonca Onuk is probably offering to build the MRTP-65 at KSEW to sweeten the deal plus cut cost as it will be certainly cheaper to build it at KSEW," but he is "not sure if [the Navy] is going to go for it though, considering that they need funds for some other more critical projects."

Despite its vessels growing in size, Onuk said it will "stick to what we know" and not offer or develop corvettes.

Having already sold a fleet tanker design now under construction at KSEW, the design, project management, and technical support firm STM will continue to promote a corvette design. STM representatives discussed present and potential cooperation with Pakistan naval chief Adm. Muhammad Zakaullah at IDEAS2014.

Whether Pakistan will eventually opt for a derivative of Turkey's Milgem/Ada is uncertain, though STM is also able to offer its smaller CL-1600 corvette if the Navy revives its corvette program shelved since 2008.

Pakistani Turkish Defense Ties Continue to Deepen