Multiplatform: The UMTAS is primarily a weapon of the Turkish T-129 helo and the Anka UAV, but potentially for armored land vehicles and naval vessels. (Roketsan)
ANKARA — Turkish interest in precision strike has increased sharply in recent years with local industry steadily becoming more active in providing those capabilities.
“Countries like Turkey facing multiple conventional and asymmetrical threats at the same time in a relatively large and unstable geography must economize militarily and financially unless they spend tens of billions in armament,” one senior officer at the Turkish military’s doctrine unit said. “And Turkey is not one of those spending-rich countries.”
This underscores a pressing need for smart, precision strike, a procurement official said.
“Like most other militaries with regional or global defense ambitions, Turkey’s is targeting maximum lethality with minimum costs, given our budgetary constraints. In fact, there is a policy directive to boost programs aiming at maximum lethality with minimal costs,” the official said.
Turkey traditionally spends $3 billion to $4 billion annually for new equipment and modernization programs.
According to a London-based Turkey specialist, the Turks were hardly aware of the merits of precision strike until a few years ago.
“The concept itself was luxury thinking for the Turks,” he said. “But with the newfound confidence in their local industry they are now investing impressively in new technologies, which they hope would earn them smart capabilities for better and cheaper hit.”
In February, Turkey’s state-run missile maker, Roketsan, said it won a $196.2 million contract from the United Arab Emirates for its Cirit laser-guided rocket system. Cirit is one of several programs launched by Turkey to equip the Army’s T-129, AH-1P Cobra and AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters with low-cost precision strike capabilities. The 70mm rocket has a range of eight kilometers.
Airbus Helicopters, formerly Eurocopter, selected the Cirit for a test and integration program to equip the company’s EC635. Roketsan is also producing canisters for Lockheed Martin’s Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile.
Roketsan also has developed an anti-tank missile, the UMTAS, whose first deliveries Turkey’s procurement bureaucracy awaits. The missile has had several successful field tests.
The UMTAS, with its infrared imaging and laser-seeker options, is an anti-tank missile with a range of eight kilometers that can be used in air-to-ground and ground-to-ground operations. Roketsan officials said the system is going through further technical tests and tests for compatibility with environmental conditions.
The UMTAS is considered the official anti-tank system for the T-129 and the Anka, Turkey’s first locally developed unmanned aircraft. Armored land vehicles and naval vessels are other potential UMTAS platforms.
Roketsan also has been tasked with producing and marketing the SOM cruise missile, a high-precision missile that can be launched from land, sea and air platforms. The SOM has been developed since 2006 by TÜBÍTAK-Sage, a defense research and development institute. Revealed in 2011, the SOM is Turkey’s first domestic weapon to attack stationary and moving targets at a standoff distance of more than 180 kilometers.
Another program is the HGK guidance kit, also developed by TÜBÍTAK-Sage. The HGK is a GPS/INS guidance kit with flap-out wings that converts 2,000-pound Mark 84 bombs into smart weapons. It enables precision strike in all weather conditions with long range at a dispersion of six meters.
Other major TÜBÍTAK-Sage innovations include the NEB bunker buster, a bomb able to destroy buried targets by penetrating protective reinforced concrete and detonating at a desired time (it is compatible with the HGK); and the KGK guidance kit, a precision guidance wing kit that converts 1,000-pound Mark 83 bombs and 500-pound Mark 82 bombs into long-range fire-and-forget smart weapons.
Turkey’s local industry also is quickly progressing toward serial production of the Atmaca, a radar-guided anti-ship cruise missile; and torpedoes, according to industry sources. But the military official said that such smart weaponry would be inadequate unless well supported by solid reconnaissance and intelligence.
“That’s why we have several satellite and space-related programs,” he said. “Good reconnaissance and intelligence, especially satellite imagery, are like the fuel for a missile.”
Three satellite programs, Gokturk 1, 2 and 3, support precision strike efforts. In addition, UTC Aerospace Systems, a joint venture between Goodrich and Hamilton Sundstrand, signed in 2013 a contract to deliver advanced dual band-110 (DB-110) airborne reconnaissance systems for integration into Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jets.
The contract was awarded by Turkish military electronics specialist Aselsan, and is part of the Turkish Airborne Reconnaissance Program. Under the contract, Goodrich and Hamilton Sundstrand are providing four DB-110 reconnaissance pods, three fixed/transportable imagery exploitation systems, and training and logistical support to the Air Force.
The DB-110 is an advanced electro-optical infrared pod designed to provide pilots with real-time, long-range, high-resolution video imagery during day and night tactical reconnaissance operations. The captured data is then relayed to analysts on the ground but can also be displayed on the aircraft’s cockpit video display to help pilots verify targets and conduct battle damage assessment.