ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s top defense procurement panel has discussed and reviewed a total of 55 programs worth a total of $9.4 billion with a view to adding new indigenous projects to the existing portfolio, a government body announced.
While the government did not officially provide additional information about the review process and the decisions, procurement officials tell Defense News that one new program discussed at SSIK’s meeting was the idea to create a border security system “similar to Israel’s Iron Dome.”
Under the plan Turkey’s two border cities, Hatay and Kilis, bordering Syria in the country’s south, will be protected from enemy rockets and missiles from across the border by Kurdish and other militias.
The procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries, or SSM, announced Jan. 31 that programs were reviewed and “decisions were made” at the meeting of the Defence Industry Executive Committee, or SSIK.
That was SSIK’s first meeting since Turkey’s Islamist strongman, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, passed new laws in December that grant him full authority over defense procurement and control over Turkey’s top defense companies.
A state of emergency decree from Dec. 24 said that SSM will now report directly to Erdogan. SSM was previously under the defense minister’s authority. According to Decree No. 696, SSM’s personnel will be appointed with the president’s approval.
The decree also authorizes the president to call for and chair SSIK’s meetings. The committee’s other members are the prime minister, interior minister, defense minister and chief of the military General Staff. SSM will operate the committee’s secretariat. SSIK was previously chaired by the prime minister.
Turkey’s Iron Dome version will be dubbed the “Golden Cage,” according to officials. It will operate like a rapid reaction network, hitting enemy rockets and missiles at short range. It will also fire at the source of those rockets and missiles.
Turkey’s border cities and towns have regularly been targeted by fire coming from the Syrian side of the border. On Jan. 20, Turkey launched a military incursion across the Syrian border, targeting Kurdish militias there, who Turkey considers terrorists.
Turkey says its forces have so far killed nearly 1,000 terrorists.
The Golden Cage will be based on a capability originally developed by military electronic specialist Aselsan, Turkey’s largest defense company. The system (Korkut in Turkish) will be supported by a network of short-range radars.
The Korkut is a self-propelled air-defense gun system designed for ground-based air defense against modern air threats. The system consists of a team of three 35mm gun systems and one command-and-control system that can operate autonomously. The system performs functions including detection, tracking, recognition, identification and destruction of the target.
Korkut features common mission execution with armored, mechanized troops; firing-on-the-move with a stabilized gun turret; an automatic ammunition feed and selection; a post command-coordinated operation; an automatic target tracking with fire control radar; target acquisition and tracking with electro-optic sensors; and effective air defense with advanced fire control algorithms.
The system can also perform common mission execution with armored, mechanized troops; target acquisition and tracking with 3-D search radar; local area air picture generation; air picture sharing with post command; advanced thread evolution and weapon assignment algorithms; post command control of air defense weapon systems; and an identification, friend or foe system.
A senior military official said SSIK decided to order from Aselsan to give pace to the Golden Cage program.
“Operation Olive Branch [the code name for the Turkish incursion into Syria] can take several months, and we don’t want to have our border towns exposed to the risk of enemy fire,” the official said.
Burak Ege Bekdil is the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.