Turkey Spending More Than Ever On Defense
As 2011 draws to a close, Turkey’s expenses for defense reaches an all-time record, topping $5 billion. The sudden spike comes at a year when huge contracts are on the horizon, including an amphibious warship and a lucrative air/missile defense system.
Bidding hasn’t started on either, but the competition among local and foreign companies involved is going to be fierce.
Turkey is also in the process of fielding new weapons systems for its armed forces. In the coming years the air force will induct a hundred F-35 Joint Strike Fighters while the army is developing a suitable light attack helicopter.
The attack helicopter is the T129 derived from the Italian A129 Mongoose that’s been in service since the 1980s. The A129 has a proven track record in operations abroad and is an ideal close air support platform for Turkey’s ground forces.
Earlier this month the first of three prototype T129s underwent flight tests in an airfield outside Ankara. The T129 differs from the A129 thanks to a license built indigenous engine and other components made in Turkey. Unlike other licensed manufacturing deals, once T129 production goes full stop, Ankara is not contractually bound from overseas sales. This means it can shop around the world for potential customers of its own. (Saudi Arabia is a likely buyer.)
Eclipsing the T129 program in terms of cost is a yet unnamed Landing Platform Dock for delivering marines. The vessel is to be built in a Turkish shipyard and the contract is worth $500 million.
2011 is so far proving a dynamic year for Turkish contractors. Other than the successful FNSS sale to Malaysia—the biggest in Turkish history—the country is expecting more than a billion dollars worth of defense-related exports.