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Turkey emerging as major Military Power and Arms-Industry Powerhouse

Turkey has been playing a crucial role in recent wars. Turkey’s low-cost drones helped alter the balance of power in Ukraine’s battle against the Russian invasion and are transforming conflicts around the world. The Bayraktar TB2—a type of Turkish drone that the Ukrainian military has increasingly deployed against Russian forces destroyed one tank and two surface-to-air missile systems overnight. In other videos shared on Twitter, Bayraktar drones, in use by the military since at least 2021, are shown blowing up what appears to be a Russian fuel convoy and a group of supply trucks.

 

In the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2020, Turkish drones proved decisive in the Azeri victory against Armenia – a Russian ally. The military support of Turkey including military training and equipment has been a crucial factor in Azerbaijan’s victory. Turkey exported drones (and likely electronic warfare equipment) to Azerbaijan. Dozens of Armenian soldiers awoke to this new reality on the 27th of September when Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs started releasing Roketsan MAM-L Smart Munitions over Armenian positions, striking at least three 9K33 Osa and three 9K35 Strela-10 mobile surface-to-air missile systems. These systems appeared just as unaware and incapable of tackling the drone threat overhead as the Russian Pantsir-S1s in Syria and Libya, and all were destroyed without ever knowing what hit them.

 

Apart from this  Turkey countered a Kurdish insurgency, supported Qatar in its standoff with KSA and UAE, engaged in support of the GNA in Libya while being involved in significant operations in Syria.

 

Much of this has been possible due to innovative weapon systems, tactics and strategies evolved by the Turkish armed forces, and these are worth serious study.

 

Drone Power

A new Baykar drone which set an endurance record by flying at 38,000 feet for nearly 26 hours. The drone is capable of carrying a large payload of 3,000 lbs and will deploy Turkish developed Bozdogan and Gokdogan BVRAAM (Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile) and WVRAAMs (Within Visual Range Air to Air Missile).

 

In 2022, Turkiye’s heavy Akinci drone broke Turkish aviation history by flying at 11,594 metres for nearly 26 hours, well within the operational range of most fighter jets. With its 20-meter wingspan and one-ton carrying capacity, the large drone can be paired with Roketsan’s lightweight Smart Micro-Munitions for longer flight times and high precision. Precision is a major hallmark of Turkish drones. Their appropriate use in Syria and the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict showed the world they could lower collateral damage and offer defensive options to countries without large conventional air forces.

 

Not to be outdone, Turkiye also saw the release of a number of smaller tactical drones with swarming capability, facial recognition, and finally, a drone equipped with a steel-melting laser with a 500 meter range.

 

Aselsan Koral EW System: A land based electronic attack system with an operating range of 200km and the ability to jam and otherwise degrade a range of radars.

 

Drone Carrier LHD Anadolu: Slated to be commissioned in 2022, the 27,000 ton Anadolu is an LHD built in Turkey with the ability to carry 50 AA and A2G mission capable drones. The ship will also act as a command center and will be protected by autonomous USVs.

 

Fedai, a Turkish defence company also announced an anti-drone missile platform, cementing its hold on the industry that’s revolutionizing how nations of the world are approaching defence and military operations.

 

Anka is Turkish Aerospace’s larger and more capable drone system compared to TB-2. Aksungur is a new drone capable of ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare) missions. A counter UAS directed energy weapon, Alka was deployed in Libya and destroyed a Chinese WL2 drone in 2019. The 50 Kw laser/EM weapon has a destructive range of 1 km, with the ability to disable drone swarms as far as 4 km away.

 

Tank

Turkiye finally launched its first national Altay tank prototype with  360 degree automatic target acquisition, active trophy defences, modular chemical reactive armor, and a 120mm 55 calibre smoothbore gun promising top-tier accuracy. In 2021 was the year Turkiye announced the mass production of a series of unmanned ground vehicles, force multipliers in the field that increase the survivability of its own military personnel.

 

Hypersonic Capabilities

2021 was also the year of hypersonic missiles. Turkiye’s Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK) announced the continued development of the SAPAN electromagnetic gun, which can accelerate projectiles to hypersonic speeds without the use of chemical propellants. Aside from counter-hypersonic capabilities, TUBITAK continues to work on ramjet supersonic missiles, and precision-guided missiles such as the SOM. 2021 was the year Turkiye tested its first indigenously-produced the Siper long-range missile defence system, designed in response to frequent missile fire from Syria and set to enter the army’s inventory in 2023. The SOM are a class of autonomous, low-observable precision cruise missiles that pack more explosive power in smaller, more accurate rockets, offering heavy firepower to small and large drones alike.

 

Unmanned Surface Combat Vehicle (USCV)

In April 2021, Turkish companies Ares Shipyard and Meteksan have unveiled anti-submarine warfare (ASW) variant of the ULAQ Unmanned Surface Combat Vehicle (USCV). Turkish companies Ares Shipyard and Meteksan have unveiled anti-submarine warfare (ASW) variant of the ULAQ Unmanned Surface Combat Vehicle (USCV). First AUSV’s missile systems are inclusive of 4 cells of Cirit and 2 of L-UMTAS, supplied by our national missile systems provider ROKETSAN. It completed its first firing test successfully on 27th May 2021. The ULAQ can be deployed from combat ships. It can be controlled remotely from mobile vehicles, headquarters, command centers and floating platforms.

 

Along with the missile systems, AUSV will be equipped with different variations of communication and intelligence systems like jamming and electronic warfare systems to correspond diverse operational needs. AUSV will be able to carry out joint operations with complementary forces. Furthermore, AUSV is not only a remotely controlled vehicle but also and more importantly an autonomous vehicle that hosts artificial intelligence. After the first prototype vessel, other USVs for the operations like surveillance and intelligence, mine counter measures, anti-submarine warfare, fire-fighting, search and rescue missions, will be manufactured.

 

Along with the missile systems, AUSV will be equipped with different variations of communication and intelligence systems like jamming and electronic warfare systems to correspond diverse operational needs. AUSV will be able to carry out joint operations with complementary forces. Furthermore, AUSV is not only a remotely controlled vehicle but also and more importantly an autonomous vehicle that hosts artificial intelligence. After the first prototype vessel, other USVs for the operations like surveillance and intelligence, mine counter measures, anti-submarine warfare, fire-fighting, search and rescue missions, will be manufactured.

 

Weapon’s Industry Powerhouse

Turkey’s two-decade-long project to become a weapons-manufacturing powerhouse is starting to pay off for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mr. Erdogan’s government is pouring $60 billion a year—up from $5 billion in 2002—into an effort to reduce dependence on U.S. and other foreign military suppliers.

 

The private defense industry grew to $11 billion in 2020 from $1 billion in 2002. Arms deals are now one of Mr. Erdogan’s foreign-policy tools of choice, as he uses sales of drones and other weapons to build relationships and further his aspirations of global Turkish influence.

 

One key lesson to draw from recent Turkish military developments is cost-effective power projection through the heavy use of autonomy. The $20+ billion Turkish defense budget sustains the second largest NATO armed force and also makes room for smart investments to fuel an indigenous defense industry that is presently pursuing over 700 separate defense projects.

 

Turkey now makes about 70% of what the Turkish armed forces’ need, up from 30% in the early 2000s, according to the government. Building on the success of its Bayraktar TB-2 drones, its signature military export, Turkey is looking to become a key supplier of other drones including unmanned land, sea and underwater vehicles, officials and executives say.

 

Turkey ranked 12th in arms exports between 2017 to 2021, behind Israel and Switzerland and ahead of Ukraine and Sweden, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Turkey’s industry is still small compared with arms-selling giants like the U.S., Russia and France, but it has leapt into a new tier since 2001, when it ranked 36th. Its top buyers were Turkmenistan, Oman and Qatar.

 

Turkish defense companies having become notable drone makers and exporters, with the country now challenging established drone makers like China, Israel and the U.S. Turkish defense company Baykar Defense officially announced the export of TB-2 drones to Qatar and Ukraine in 2018. However, according to many defense and security analysts, those drones are also currently flying in Libya and Azerbaijan. Chief Technology Officer Selcuk Bayraktar told local media in September that the company has exported drones to four countries, but did not elaborate.

 

A new crop of Turkish companies is exporting helicopters to the Philippines, a naval corvette to Pakistan, and armored vehicles to Kenya. Turkey has built up its navy to compete with its rival Greece, and is selling patrol boats to 10 different countries.

 

Turkish Aerospace Industries has also reportedly secured a customer. Defense News reported in March that TAI had won an order from the Tunisian government for six ANKA-S drones and three ground control stations, including technology transfer worth $240 million. TAI officials declined to comment. Ismail Demir, a top government official in charge of the defense industry, told Nikkei Asia, “I do not know any other country which is more generous than Turkey, especially in terms of technology transfer.” He also said Turkish drone makers are talking to at least seven countries about drone exports.

 

 

 

References and Resources also include:

https://time.com/6153197/ukraine-russia-turkish-drones-bayraktar/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amirhusain/2022/06/30/turkey-builds-a-hyperwar-capable-military/

 

Cite This Article

 
International Defense Security & Technology (January 31, 2023) Turkey emerging as major Military Power and Arms-Industry Powerhouse. Retrieved from https://idstch.com/geopolitics/turkey-emerging-as-major-military-power-and-arms-industry-powerhouse/.
"Turkey emerging as major Military Power and Arms-Industry Powerhouse." International Defense Security & Technology - January 31, 2023, https://idstch.com/geopolitics/turkey-emerging-as-major-military-power-and-arms-industry-powerhouse/
International Defense Security & Technology January 20, 2023 Turkey emerging as major Military Power and Arms-Industry Powerhouse., viewed January 31, 2023,<https://idstch.com/geopolitics/turkey-emerging-as-major-military-power-and-arms-industry-powerhouse/>
International Defense Security & Technology - Turkey emerging as major Military Power and Arms-Industry Powerhouse. [Internet]. [Accessed January 31, 2023]. Available from: https://idstch.com/geopolitics/turkey-emerging-as-major-military-power-and-arms-industry-powerhouse/
"Turkey emerging as major Military Power and Arms-Industry Powerhouse." International Defense Security & Technology - Accessed January 31, 2023. https://idstch.com/geopolitics/turkey-emerging-as-major-military-power-and-arms-industry-powerhouse/
"Turkey emerging as major Military Power and Arms-Industry Powerhouse." International Defense Security & Technology [Online]. Available: https://idstch.com/geopolitics/turkey-emerging-as-major-military-power-and-arms-industry-powerhouse/. [Accessed: January 31, 2023]

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