Musings on Missile Defense and Turkey’s Defense Doctrine

Lale Kemal reports that the Turkish Military “is allegedly very unhappy that it might finally acquire ‘second-hand, not battle-tested and cheap Chinese missiles,’ as opposed to US-made Patriot missile system …. the Turkish military is reportedly also mad at the US because its companies were not encouraged to offer more high-technology transfers to Turkey to undercut other bidders, i.e., China and an Italian-French consortium, whose missiles are not battle-tested either.”

The Turkish military’s frustration with the decision to procure a Chinese missile defense system is understandable. For one, the TSK is trained to service American military hardware. Thus, in addition to the interoperability issues, military technicians would have to be trained to service Chinese equipment. Moreover, it speaks to a larger issue about military doctrine. The TSK is incredibly opaque, but in a moment of transparency, the military did release a Defense White Paper in 2000. In it, the Turkish military describes the needs for missile defense (All of the emphases in bold have been added by the author).

According to the document: “Turkey is concerned about the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and missile launchers in the region and stresses the importance of the participation as soon as possible of the countries which are not a party to the international agreements for providing universality to international agreements and regimes directed at the prevention of the spread of the subject weapons and launchers.” (AKA – Iran, Syria, and, at that time, Iraq).

Also from the document: “In the political and military environment in which the global and regional balances have not yet been formed, besides contributing to peace and stability in the region and in the world, in the restructuring of the TAF, providing the defense of the country against risks and threats, maintaining and developing the following capabilities are targeted. These are: Deterrent military force, – Command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems, – Superior operational capability and fire power, – Advanced technology weapons and systems based on the principle of quality rather than quantity, – Air/missile defense and NBC protection capability against weapons of mass destruction, – Capability for rapidly transforming from a state of peace to a state of war, – Capability for performing various types of operations such as supporting peace, supporting crisis management, use of limited force, blockade, embargo, aid in natural disasters, humanitarian aid, prevention of migration, and fighting against terrorism, besides classical warfare,– Capability for performing joint and combined operations and – Capability for being able to reciprocally use the armed forces of the alliance member countries.” (When reading this, think about Ankara’s drone, cruise missile, and space program – also, take note of the interoperability component of the military doctrine)

On NATO: “NATO membership has continued to be the corner stone of Turkey’s defense and security policy for approximately half a century. Collective defense has not lost any importance, both during the Cold War period and also in the present period when the risks have gradually increased in variety and instabilities prevail. Cooperation carried out in the security and defense fields in the framework of NATO has been continued with success until the present and has been based on the principle of sharing the burdens and benefits.” (If one looks at the SOM program, for example, Ankara hopes to export the missile to operators of the F-35 and markets it as NATO interoperable.)

And finally: “On the basis of main weapons systems, 80 percent of the defense equipment are presently procured from abroad. It is targeted to change this ratio and increase the domestic procurement ratio to levels that will make Turkey’s defense industry sufficient and independent. Providing all kinds of weapons, vehicles, equipment and materials needed by the TAF from national resources to the maximum extent possible is important from the aspect of preserving and strengthening the existing defense industry foundation and of creating employment. The Main Sectors of the Turkish Defense Industry are classified as follows: – Aviation and Space Industry, – Rocket and Missile Industry, – Electronics Industry, – Weapons and Ammunition Industry, – Military Shipbuilding Industry, – Military Automotive and Armored Vehicle Industry and – Military Clothing Industry.”

Given Turkey’s military doctrine, it is completely understandable why the military would be upset at the government for choosing a non-interoperable system and at the United States for not offering a viable arrangement to assist Turkey with developing its own defense industry. Yet, here is where the TSK fails to understand the nature of the relationship between the United States government and American private defense contractors.

In Turkey, there is a sense that now that Ankara has tepidly indicated that it may change its mind – and has asked the US to extend the pricing offer for the Patriot system – that Turkey has the upper hand and will be able to convince the US government to put pressure on the US private companies to make concessions. Well, I am afraid it just doesn’t work like that. The Administration can’t simply pick up the phone and direct private industry to change their bid – the export of missile defense systems are subject to export control restrictions, intellectual property laws, private industry discretion, and congressional approval.

Thus, despite the recent chatter about the sale of the Patriot system, I still suspect that Ankara will conclude and arrangement for the Chinese HQ-9. And, if not, the next most likely candidate is MBDA’s Samp/T – the missile, while not ideal from a military perspective, does include generous technology transfer and coproduction arrangements.

Now, as for the Patriot, Turkey’s Roketsan already produces the control actuator system for the system deployed in the United Arab Emirates. According to Raytheon’s press release, “Roketsan is Raytheon’s first major trans-Atlantic supplier strategically located to support the 11 countries in Europe and Asia, including several in the Middle East, that have chosen Patriot as a key component of their air and missile defense programs.”

So, while the discourse in Turkey is about how the US won’t share, few have made note of this coproduction arrangement already in place. Why should we care? Well, for one, this arrangement suggests that extent to which US private industry will agree to copopduction arrangements on high-technology items like Patriot. So what does the control actuator actually do? Well, “It receives commands from the missile autopilot and positions the fins. The missile fins steer and stabilize the missile in flight. A fin servo system positions the fins. The fin servo system consists of hydraulic actuators and valves and an electrohydraulic power supply. The electrohydraulic power consists of battery, motor pump, oil reservoir, gas pressure bottle, and accumulateor.”



Ankara is also a partner on the NATO Sea Sparrow program. The sea sparrow is “a medium-range, rapid-reaction, missile weapon system that provides the capability of destroying hostile aircraft, anti-ship missiles, and airborne and surface missile platforms with surface-to-air missiles.” Roketsan, after 1999, “manufactures mechanical and public parts for the consortium.”

The co-production arrangements for both are minimal, which suggests the extent to which Raytheon is willing to share critical design information with Turkey – and others for that matter. Thus, moving forward, one should temper the expectation that the US consortium will dramatically alter its bid to meet Turkey’s coproduction demands. In turn, this leads me to conclude that if the SSM were to change its mind – and take the demands of the military into account – the most likely missile to be chosen is the Samp/T.

Now, the focus of the discussion should not be about the day-to-day nature of the discussions but on the coproduction demands. In my opinion, Ankara is unlikely to ever be able to compete with the United States, Russia, and China for BMD defense systems. Thus, if Ankara can’t compete in the future, why would it be so strident in its coproduction demands for a system that the military has identified as vital for defending Turkey in the future? Thus, I have always argued that Turkey should pick and choose where it seeks aggressive coproduction arrangements.

There are areas where Ankara can produce cost competitive military systems – they include main battle tanks (this came about as a result of the Altay arrangement), armored personnel carriers, and, perhaps in a few years time, drones (I won’t discuss the proliferation implications of this, but there are some).

Ankara now has to make a choice – and, as they say in economics, there is no free lunch. Turkey will have to choose whether it wants to choose a system that is not interoperable – the HQ-9 – but will involve near 100% technology transfer. Or, it will have to compromise on its demands and choose either the Samp/T or the Patriot. Both are interoperable with NATO systems. I know what I would choose, but I don’t make the decisions.

As always, if you have comments, criticism, questions tweet me @aaronstein1

About aaronstein1

I am an Istanbul based PhD Candidate a King's College London.
This entry was posted in Missile Defense, NATO, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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