After six years of keeping it on the agenda, Turkey today [Jan. 3] is finally expected to decide on the contractor that will produce the Patriot-type long-range missile-defense system, which is expected to cost around $4 billion. The executive committee of the Undersecretariat of the Defense Industry, which is the sole decision-making body in weapons procurement, is likely to meet today. Competing for the contract are four systems, including the US PAC3 and the Russian Antey 2000 systems. Prime Minister Erdogan, National Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz and Chief of General Staff Necdet Ozel will participate in the meeting. Despite all the legal steps taken to audit the military expenditures that were exempted from scrutiny, the fact is that the executive committee, along with these three officials, has exceptional powers. This shows that there is still no transparency in weapons procurement. Therefore, the decision to be made today will not be subject to external audit.
Training with Patriots gives edge to the US
As is already known, Turkey, independently of the decision to buy its own system, will be borrowing six batteries of Patriot missiles from NATO. Turkey had earlier borrowed NATO Patriot systems in 1991 and 2003, when Iraq was attacked by coalition forces. But this time, NATO required Turkish personnel to be trained on the operation of Patriots before deploying them. PAC3 missiles borrowed from NATO are the same type the US is offering to sell Turkey, and that gives the US an edge over the competition.
It is, however, open to debate why Turkey is willing to spend $4 billion to buy its own missiles when it can borrow them from NATO, especially in an environment where weapons purchases are not audited.
How indigenous is Gokturk-2?
Because of the incidents surrounding the launching of the Gokturk-2 satellite on Dec. 18, when university students protested the presence of Prime Minister Erdogan, the questions about the claims that this satellite was fully made in Turkey were ignored.
During this government’s reign, efforts were made to locally produce some basic military technologies and reduce dependence on imports. But contrary to the speeches drafted by bureaucrats and recited by politicians, Turkey is not yet at the point of manufacturing critical technologies in the weapons industry, as financial resources allotted to such a venture are still too low — though there is some effort.
Sadly, the practice of not telling the truth to the public still continues. In the past we were told tales of how Turkey was manufacturing F-16s by itself, but were not told that we are only assembling them by joining parts together. In reality, all these planes were bought off the shelf from the US.
Telling the people that nearly 80% of the Gokturk-2 satellite was manufactured from local resources is nothing but an attempt to deceive the public. It is better to tell the truth. An important percentage of the parts making up the Gokturk-2 were bought from Ukraine and South Korea.
Then we must ask the question: If Gokturk-2 has a 2.5 meter resolution and is produced locally, why are we paying about 80 million euros ($105.5 million) to a foreign consortium called Telespazio for a satellite-integrated test center for a military-satellite project called Gokturk-1 that offers 0.5 cm resolution? The answer is simple: while the Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Defense and Turkish Scientific Research Council are working on Gokturk-2, the Military Industries Undersecretariat is pursuing its own with Telespazio instead of cooperating. If they were to cooperate, it would have saved a lot of money and they could produce satellites with lower resolution but with more local technology.
US, Russia, China, Italy and France competing
Turkey is expected the announce the winning company today. The contenders include the competing companies and their products: the American Raytheon and Lockheed Martin companies with Patriot PAC3, Russia’s Rosoboron Export with Antey 2000, China’s CPMIEC with FD-2000 and the French-Italian partnership Eurosam with Aster 30 SAMP/T systems.
Turkey is planning to purchase 12 missile-launching units with a range of 120 km.