ANKARA — Turkey’s defense industry planners are pushing to “professionalize” military logistics by putting life-cycle management into the hands of the country’s procurement office, a move the government hopes will boost efficiency and maximize savings in running logistical programs.
“I must admit that we never had a fully professional logistical management system before. We worked hard in studying various examples of how countries with advance systems operate, and devised a hybrid system,” one senior procurement official said.
A Defense Ministry official said, “Our studies revealed that if logistical management is handled by the military end users there is serious risk of rising costs and inefficiency.”
As a first step in reshuffling the system, a special logistical management unit was formed last year within the procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM).
“The idea is that SSM, which runs billions of dollars’ worth of programs, also manages the life-cycle management for major, if not all, modernization and acquisition programs,” the procurement official said.
Under the new system, SSM would announce new logistical contracts as part of major procurements, he said.
“These logistical management contracts could involve major programs like the AEW&C and Meltem II,” he said.
Recently, Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz announced that major delays in a multibillion-dollar program for the purchase of four airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft from Boeing were due to the company’s failure in developing the system as well as other uncontrolled events within the program.
Under a July 23, 2003, contract, priced at more than US $1.6 billion, Boeing was to develop and deliver four AEW&C aircraft to the Turkish Air Force in 2008. The program involved the delivery of the 737-700 airframe, ground radar and control systems, ground control segments for mission crew training, mission support and maintenance support.
Major programs such as these require careful logistical management, he said.
Another example of a complex program requiring close oversight is Meltem II.
At the beginning of this year, Thales delivered to the Turkish military the first maritime surveillance aircraft equipped with its AMOSCOS mission system under the Meltem II program.
Thales is the prime contractor for the program, which calls for the delivery of six maritime patrol aircraft for the Turkish Navy and three maritime surveillance aircraft for the Turkish Coast Guard, all based on modified CASA CN-235 platforms. The program includes the provision of additional maritime patrol systems to the Turkish Navy, to be integrated on ATR 72 aircraft.
Under the new logistical management plan, the procurement official said, local prime contractors would be asked to sign logistical management contracts with SSM on behalf of all system suppliers.
“This is a system used commonly in the United States,” he said. “Basically, we want SSM to deal with a single entity in running logistics programs instead of several companies. We will expect the prime contractors to then deal with their subcontractors.”
An aviation official said that as part of the new system, SSM could sign a separate logistical management subcontract with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) for the country’s first indigenous basic trainer aircraft, the Hurkus.
“This contract will involve logistical work only, and TAI will be tasked with the life-cycle management for the Hurkus,” the official said. “I think, here, the system will be similar to how logistical support work will be handled in the F-35 [Joint Strike Fighter] program.”
The Hurkus has been going through a final round of tests before it makes its maiden flight in August.
The first prototype successfully went through engine tests in February, the second is being tested for static durability and cabin pressure, the third is being assembled, and the fourth will be tested for metal fatigue.