Whither the Turkish Air Defence System? Will the PRC Buy Stand?


2013-11-10 by Özgür Ekşi

With respect to the Long-Range Air Defence Missile Project on which Turkey has been working for a long time, the final outcome has led to some public disquiet.

The rumors of what might happen have turned out to be true.

Upon the selection of the missile system submitted by China National Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC) (FD-2000), plenty of displeasure has emerged.

Three sources of disquiet can be mentioned.

To reference the displeasure, it might, at first, be possible to include in a group the politicians, diplomats, military personnel and industrialists of the unsuccessful tendering countries;

Secondly, diplomatic and military discussions held in NATO of which Turkey is a member;

And thirdly, Turkey, where minimum discussions have taken place.

Turkey has downselected a Chinese air defense system. Will this decision stand? Or will offers from NATO partners take their place?
Turkey has downselected a Chinese air defense system. Will this decision stand? Or will offers from NATO partners take their place? Credit Photo: China News.Com

Considering the official declarations in relation to the decisions taken by the Defence Industry Executive Committee (DIEC), price advantage is the first justification for the selection of China.

The chosen system is a kind of system which has been available for years, and China is considering having a more developed one for its own sake.

In other words, the Chinese choice underscores Turkey’s intent to buy a system which is not very sophisticated for its air defense needs. FD-2000 is designed to provide for defense against short and medium range aircrafts. Associated with the program as well is the manufacture of 288 missiles.  This part of the project will provide especially ROKETSAN, ASELSAN and Ayesaş and many other Turkish companies with important business share. Additionally, the BMC has been saved from a financial quagmire it stuck in as it has undertaken the manufacture of 200 special trucks intended for this system.

The C4 Defence Magazine team paid a visit to the military school using Aster 30 system of MBDA and investigated on site the features of the system offered to Turkey in Italy prior to the decision of DIEC.

Users of this system in Italian army said that the system can respond threads more effectively than expected, and it can get in position to fire within of just 21 minutes.  It can operate within the overall context as well of National and NATO Air Defence system.

The high level capacity exhibited during the visit prior to the completion of the tender was really impressive; however, it caused us to ask the question which we will mention at the conclusion of this article.

The decision to be taken with regard to air defense systems will bind Turkey for long years in terms of strategy.

Our allies are questioning the decision and the impacts would linger for a long time since these weapons bear both offensive and strategic value. And our allies are making a clear effort to have the Chinese contract cancelled.

Experiences evidence that a loss of a party might bring benefit to the other.

Given the logic of the decision so far the best way to counter possible pressure would be to sign the decision binding contract within this year as soon as possible. We understand that the Chinese authorities are of the same mind since they have immediately initiate negotiations.

But is this the best way to go?

As we know Western countries are really displeased with the fact that China does not recognize patents and practices implementations such as imitation. Thus, it is necessary for us to successfully convince our foreign partners and guarantee them not to get damaged in terms of industry.

Otherwise, we might experience a process in which they will put into question their cooperation with us.

The outcome of the various contacts with especially NATO and other international environment of Mr Sami Atalan, the Senior Editor of C4 Defence, is worthy of consideration saying, “it is impossible to consider integrating FD-2000 into the system at the NATO’s joint air defense operations center”. All military authorities are aware of this fact.

This situation gets us to think that there will be no other solutions than accepting FD-200 as a national system.

When we consider the system, which has been offered by EUROSAM and put in the second place by the DIEC for evaluation, it is clear that this system has many advantages to be considered.

Among the advantages are the following: combat ready time, compliance with all other systems in the network environment, reaction time, storage and maintenance facilities, 57 g maneuverability and effectiveness against a wide range of threads including aircrafts which navigate at low altitude and high speed.

The main difference in cost between China’s offer and the systems of Thales or Raytheon is thought to be based on radars.

Users know that Mirabel radar offered by Thales is really capable, but more expensive.

Can EUROSAM come up with a better price offer?

The system will take a place in Turkey’s next 40-year defense strategy.

Can EUROSAM offer a radar system, which is friendlier to the budget of Turkey and has features similar to that of China and is cheaper than the current one instead of this expensive radar?

The author has provided the following updates to his article published in the October edition of the C4 Defence Magazine:

With regard to the US:

The US has put pressure on due to sanctions on the Chinese company involved in the Turkish deal.

But Turkey seems to avoid possible outcomes of such sanction as Undersecretary for Defence Industries Murad Bayar defends the decision in these terms:

“These are US sanctions, not UN.”

With regard to NATO:

NATO does not want Chinese system to be hooked up to NATO. NATO had too much problem when Greece had S300. They are installed in Crete and not in use at all.

For NATO they would prefer Russia to China, if the choice came down to that.

With regard to systems:

All NATO systems air radars, link 16, IFF. Some work with NATO some are provided by NATO to have an integrated air defense system. Some will be pulled back once Chinese system is in Turkey.

Turkey will be obliged to fill the gap by its own productions.

New offer?

According to the media, companies are being asked to extend their offers.

What does it mean?

Will Turkey buy some other systems?

Then what is the logic of buying Chinese system due to their low price?

It costs even more in terms of the need to pay for its integration within Turkish systems.

Özgür Ekşi is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief, C4Defence Magazine

This article appeared in the October 2013 issue from our Strategic Partner C4Defence Magazine and has been updated by the author.


The original article can be downloaded in PDF format below:

Turkish Air Defense Choices

Also see the following article on Second Line of Defense:


Editor’s Note: The author reminds of the proposition which we developed earlier that “no platform fights alone.”  When considering an arms purchase it is crucial to look at its potential laydown within the overall force structure to determine cost effectiveness and best value.

The price of the platform in isolation is not an indicator of real cost to the forces.