ANKARA, Turkey — A three-strong team of Turkish companies has been tapped to build the country’s first indigenous long-range air and anti-missile system, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The president said the first deliveries under the “Siper” program, or “Ditch” in Turkish, are expected at the end of 2021.
The program partners are state-controlled military electronics specialist Aselsan, Turkey’s largest defense company; state-controlled missile-maker Roketsan; and Tubitak Sage, a defense specialist and part of Turkey’s state scientific research institute.
“This system is crucial for Turkey’s defense and they (the partners) are taking a new step with this project that will upgrade Turkey in the league of defense systems,” Erdogan said.
To augment its long-range defenses, Turkey decided in December to buy the Russian-made S-400 system. When the system is deployed on Turkish soil, the country will become the first NATO member to operate the S-400. Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has said deployment of the S-400 will begin by October 2019.
Erdogan’s announcement comes as Aselsan and Roketsan are in talks with Franco-Italian company Eurosam for the co-production of its SAMP/T system in Turkey. The talks are ongoing under a conceptual definition contract with the European producer.
Scheduled to last 18 months, the definition study is meant to prepare a development and production contract for the future system, which is expected to meet operational requirements of the Turkish Air Force.