Turkey advances TFX fighter project, orders new rifles, more F-35s, CH-47s | World Defense

Turkey advances TFX fighter project, orders new rifles, more F-35s, CH-47s

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Lale Sariibrahimoglu, Ankara - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
08 January 2015

Turkey has decided to begin preliminary design work on its indigenous TFX fifth-generation fighter aircraft programme. Source: IHS/Nick de Larrinaga
Key Points
  • Turkey has decided to advance its TFX indigenous fighter programme, begin series production of its indigenous MPT-76 service rifle, commit to four more F-35s, and to order five additional CH-47s
  • However, the country has postponed making a final decision on its controversial USD4 billion T-Loramids SAM programme for a further six months
Turkey will push ahead with its indigenous Turkish Fighter Experimental (TFX) project, the country's most senior defence procurement body decided on 7 January.

The Executive Committee (EC) of the Turkish Defence Industries Undersecretariat (SSM) announced it would begin preliminary design work on the TFX aircraft and also decided to start the serial production of the MPT-76 automatic rifle for the Turkish Army, order four more Lockheed Martin more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF), and buy five more Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

The EC of the SSM also decided to begin the serial production of 35,000 MPT-76 automatic rifles for the Turkish Army. (IHS/Nick de Larrinaga)

The EC, however, postponed a firm commitment on its T-Loramids air defence missile programme for a further six months.

Speaking following the meeting, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who chairs the EC, said that "TFX with twin engines will be a completely indigenous Turkish fighter, and not a copy of any existing fighter. In four years' time the latest the preliminary design phase of the project will be completed. I can proudly say to the Turkish public that our target is to produce the first prototype of TFX in 2023."

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), in co-operation with Saab, had previously completed the conceptual design work of TFX at a cost of around USD20 million. Though Davutoglu stated TFX will be an entirely indigenous design, a request for proposal (RfP) is expected to be released for foreign companies to take part in the fighter's preliminary design work.

Turkey also decided to begin serial production of the MPT-76 7.62 mm automatic rifle, with an initial 35,000 ordered from state-owned Machines and Chemical Industries Board (MKEK) in co-operation with the private sector. The new weapon is eventually expected to entirely replace the 500,000 Heckler & Koch G3 7.62 mm battle rifles in Turkish service.

Turkey decided to postpone making a final decision on its controversial selection of the Chinese HQ-9 SAM for its USD4 billion T-Loramids project for a further six months. (Wikipedia Commons/Jian Kang)

The EC also committed to Turkey buying a further four F-35s in addition to its previously ordered two aircraft. Turkey has previously stated its goal of buying 100 F-35s by 2030.

Turkey will also purchase five more CH-47F Chinook heavy lift helicopters in addition to the six it ordered for the Special Forces Command under a USD419.5 million US Foreign Military Sales project, which included an option for eight more aircraft. "Hence Turkey will gain a serious capacity in air lift," said Davutoglu.

The EC also decided to accelerate work on the development of satellite launching system. Davutoglu described this project as highly important for Turkey's space projects and for developments in its defence industry and other areas.

The committee also decided to develop the communication capabilities of the three armed services.

In a separate development, IHS Jane's has learned that the SSM has been holding talks with Lockheed Martin for the sale of the Aegis Combat System for Turkey's long-awaited TF-2000 frigate project for which RfPs have not even been published.

ANALYSIS
The decision to go ahead with the next phase of TFX is rumoured to have been made on the order of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has publicly backed Turkey building its own fighter aircraft by 2023. However, the head of the SSM, Undersecratary Ismail Demir, was widely speculated to have been against building a fighter due to its perceived poor chances on the export market.

Meanwhile the EC decisions mean the saga of Turkey's USD4 billion T-Loramids surface-to-air missile (SAM) programme will rumble on for another six months.

Since the controversial selection of the a China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation (CPMIEC) over the HQ-9 SAM in September 2013, Turkey has faced criticism from NATO members over interoperability and security issues with operating the Chinese system.

Since then Turkey has voiced dissatisfaction with technology transfer offered in the Chinese bid and announced in September 2014 it would also enter negotiations with Eurosam, the runner up in the original downselection with its SAMP/T system. Demir previously told IHS Jane's these negotiations covered a multi-layered defence system, including longer range elements. Meanwhile US vice admiral Joseph W Rixey, director of the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), had visited Ankara in late December 2014 to petition Turkey to select the Patriot system.

Davutoglu said after the EC meeting that "we decided to continue talks with China as well as with other companies for another six months or let's say until any of the companies come up with an offer that will increase Turkey's production share in the missile systems to a maximum level, as well as on costs and timing of their delivery."

It appears that Turkey is playing with time until June national elections on making up its mind on what it exactly wants to do on missile project.

According to local and Western defence industry sources in Ankara, during that six-month period, Turkey will try to clarify its strategy on whether it will open a new tender for the purchase of a longer range missiles - speculated to be called T-Loramids Extended Range (ER) - or will decide to co-develop the project to be able to obtain technology to build the system (specifically the missiles) locally.

"SSM may finally say that none of the competing companies have come up with a technology offer that will enable Turkish industry to build the weapon itself so we cancel the T-Loramids project and go ahead with a co-development model," a Western defence industry source told IHS Jane's .

Opening a new tender for missiles may also be a gentle way of getting rid of Chinese systems.

Turkey advances TFX fighter project, orders new rifles, more F-35s, CH-47s - IHS Jane's 360
 

UAE

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I don't really get it! The f-35 still has some technical issues. Why on earth would Turkey go for more?
 

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