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Turkey And Its Quest For Advanced Missiles

October 20, 2013

Chinese S-300 SAM

Having spent much of the current year flexing its muscles as a regional power, Turkey hasn’t neglected its effort to become a technology leader as well. Since it possesses the most advanced manufacturing sector among Muslim countries, Turkey is forging its own path in aerospace and other defense-related industries.

Missile development is no exception. As a longtime NATO member with decades of experience operating Western European and US missile systems, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration has set its sight on a 360 degree R&D blitz to produce indigenous missiles.

As September drew to a close, initial news reports announced the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries‘ choice of the Chinese HQ-9 to meet its long-range air defense needs.

The HQ-9, which is marketed by the China Precision Machinery Import Export Corporation (CPMIEC), is exported as the FD-2000 missile system and is comparable to either Russia’s S-300 or even the US Patriot.

Like the S-300, the HQ-9/FD-2000 vertically deploys from the trailer of an 8×8 transport. Many believe that what clinched the $3 billion deal with CPMIEC was the inclusion of a joint-production agreement wherein Turkish manufacturers assemble the systems themselves.

Earlier this month the Undersecretariat of Defense announced another breakthrough. The occasion was the October 6 debut test launch for the Hisar-A, an indigenous SAM. The Hisar-A in its current variant is an air defense system comprising a missile launcher mounted on a 6×6 truck.

As a joint development between Roketsan and Aselsan, the available writing on the Hisar-A reveals it’s a medium-range missile ideal for shooting down drones, aircraft, and even cruise missiles. The missile itself was developed by Roketsan and is designated the Medium Altitude Air Defense (MAAD) Missile System Project.

Although the Turkish military does have a substantial air defense capability, not to mention a large air force, the Hisar-A is the first time an indigenous system was designed and built with Turkey’s own regional threat considerations in mind. Still in the testing phase, once production commences the Hisar-A is expected to be used in both ground vehicles and ships.

The scale and extent of modernization that has swept Turkey’s armed forces in the last 20 years has opened new opportunities for its military-industrial complex. Not only is the Turkish military superior to some of its NATO allies, but it is now the most formidable arms exporter in the Middle East.