Tuesday, 21 June 2011

{EOB}Turkey Develops Domestic Missile, Rocket

Two Turkish state-run defense companies have reported major progress in what analysts view as crucial locally designed and developed missile and rocket programs.

Earlier in June, Tübitak Sage, the missile specialist operating under the state’s Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey, or TÜBİTAK, exhibited the country’s first domestic cruise missile during an air show in İzmir marking the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Air Force’s foundation.

The missile, which has a range of 180 kilometers, was designed and developed by Turkish engineers, including its software, company officials said. The program was launched in 2006.

The missile carries guided stand-off munitions, or SOM, and targets mobile and immobile land and naval targets. It features a mixed light metal, composite body, and a GPS guidance system.

In the future, the missile could replace similar imported SOM-based missiles installed on F-16 Block 40 and F-4E 2020 fighter aircraft, company officials said. Tübitak Sage plans its first deliveries to the Turkish military by the end of 2011.

The company also plans to certify the missile for future use on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightening II; Turkey is a member of a U.S.-led multinational consortium producing the F-35. It eventually plans to buy about 100 aircraft worth around $14 billion.

New rocket

In a parallel effort, state-run missile maker Roketsan launched a domestic rocket in May, testing the weapon on AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters. The 2.75-pound, semi-active, laser-guided rocket has a range of eight kilometers.

Roketsan officials have boasted about the rocket’s complete local design, development and engineering, as well as high accuracy, during field tests. The rocket, dubbed the Cirit (javelin in Turkish) has been designed to hit light armored targets.

The Cirit will be most extensively used on the T-129, the Turkish version of Italian AgustaWestland’s AW-129 Mangusta International attack helicopter. AgustaWestland, which won two contracts awarded in 2008 and 2010 totaling billions of dollars, is leading the manufacture of 60 T129s, whose deliveries should start next year.

Roketsan officials expect foreign demand for the Cirit once the company has met the Turkish military’s requirement, mainly for the T-129 program. The Cirit, which can carry two different warheads, could be installed on aerial and land platforms, they said.

One company official said design and development tests were completed in 2010 and that serial production would start this year. “This will mark the passing of a critical stage in our domestic rocket design and production ambitions.”

Analysts have said the indigenous missile and rocket programs are part of a broader policy to locally design, develop and produce various weapons systems, including helicopters, naval platforms, unmanned aerial vehicles and military satellites.

“It is by no means surprising that the Turkish government, among other systems, has ambitions to produce indigenous missiles and rockets,” an Ankara-based analyst said. “The policy was established to make advances in domestic missile technology and export equipment to foreign buyers in the future.”

Source: Hurriyet Daily News

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