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How Three Turkish Giants Joined Forces

How Three Turkish Giants Joined Forces

The Islamist daily Yeni Akit can be a nuisance when it does what it knows best: threats, insults, intimidation, character assassinations, blind support for the ruling party, blind hatred of anyone who may not so much adore President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and fake news.

It often praises, in big headlines, what it portrays to its readers as the 100 percent national, indigenous, Turkish fighter jet, the TF-X. In between the lines you may read that the 100 percent national, indigenous, Turkish fighter jet is being developed, at pre-conceptual design phase, by a company that goes with the name British Aerospace Systems. And that the engine that will power the TF-X would be developed by a company called Rolls-Royce.

Yeni Akit loves to report progress on the 100 percent national, indigenous, Turkish new generation main battle tank, the Altay. Same big headlines. And same small lines that would tell you how infidel Germans were reluctant to give us Turks an engine that would power the Altay. The transmission system? German, US or British. The armour? No one knows.

Yeni Akit’s latest in a series of happy news from the Turkish defence industry had the headline “Three Turkish giants join forces.” The story was about three Turkish companies coming together to build the country’s first indigenous long-range air and anti-missile architecture.

But who are the three Turkish giants? They are Aselsan, Roketsan and Eurosam. Aselsan and Roketsan are indeed state-controlled Turkish companies. The third Turkish giant, Eurosam, is headquartered in Paris. It was established in 1989 by Aerospatiale, Alenia and Thomson-CSF – today the group is a partnership between MBDA and Thales.

Yeni Akit should investigate why this huge Turkish company is headquartered in Paris and not Ankara. And why its shareholders took strange infidel names instead of Turkish names.

It then should investigate why it took so long for Turkey to have its first long-range air defence system. It was more than 20 years ago when Turkey’s military and defence procurement planners decided to procure a system to protect strategic Turkish locations from enemy fire or missile. Sixteen years of that 20 year period was spent under the current government.

Twenty years already passed and where do we stand? The French-Italian Eurosam (not the Turkish giant) is presently working with two Turkish partners, Aselsan and Roketsan, on the concept definition phase of the programme which, if things go perfectly smooth, will be completed by the end of 2019. A contract should then be signed, ideally, in 2020 or 2021. Production will take another 10 years, and it will be earliest 2030 when Turkey will have possessed an air defence system, or 36-38 years after it was first planned.

But don’t rush, gentlemen. By 2030 you will have your S-400s and, possibly, S-500s – 100 percent national, indigenous and Turkish of course!

About The Author

Burak Bekdil

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based Turkish political columnist who wrote for Hurriyet Daily News [formerly Turkish Daily News] for 29 years. He has covered Turkey for the U.S. weekly Defense News since 1997. Previously, Bekdil worked as Ankara Bureau Chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He contributes to annual national defense sector reviews for anti-corruption institutions like Transparency International and Global Integrity. Bekdil is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Middle East Quarterly. He also contributes to Perspectives, a journal of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv. James Cuno, art historian and President of the J. Paul Getty Trust, describes Bekdil as "a frequent critic of Prime Minister [now president] Recep Tayyip Erdogan." In 2001, a Heavy Crimes Court in Ankara sentenced Bekdil to a suspended, 20-month prison sentence for his column in which he satirized corruption in the judiciary. Bekdil's comments, quotes and articles have been published in international media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times, The Commentator, New York Times, Kathimerini, National Review Online, Algemeiner, NPR, Washington Times, Die Presse, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, Toronto Star, Financial Times, Al-Monitor, Le Figaro, ABC, El Pais, Stern, Al-Arabiya, Helsingin Sanomat, Racjonalista, Defence Greece, Moyen-Orient, Courier International, ISN Security Watch and Coloquio (of Congreso Judio Latinoamerico) and the Jewish Chronicle (London). (Born: Ankara, 1966; Undergraduate: Department of Economics, Middle East Technical University, Ankara; Post-graduate: Department of Economics, University of Surrey, United Kingdom)

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