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The SiPER Is Almost Ready

October 7, 2022
Via Aselsan.

Asian countries are now at the forefront of air defense technology and the evidence proving such grows by the day. Last month the Turkish manufacturer Aselsan publicized the test launch of the missile for the upcoming Siper or SiPER theater level long-range air defense system. The SiPER is envisioned to give the armed forces of Türkiye a domestic alternative for air defenses supplied from elsewhere. Once it enters service later this decade–some claim as soon as 2024–the SiPER completes the air defense spectrum of the Turkish military beginning with the Korkut mobile anti-aircraft artillery, the Sungur MANPADS, and the Hisar-A/O short and medium-range SAMs.

On September 12 at least one missile for the SiPER air defense system was launched from a stationary position in a coastal area. The test orchestrated by Aselsan, one of three companies working on the program, also involved the long-range surveillance radar and a command post–both are on separate vehicles. The actual missiles used on the SiPER are supplied by Roketsan, the same company responsible for almost all the precision-guided ordnance of the Turkish military, while Tübitak SAGE’s role isn’t as clear although it’s assumed it managed the whole program for the past five years.

Far from a closely held secret the SiPER program is expected to result in an elaborate theater level system that deploys anywhere. Aselsan conceptualized it along the lines of Chinese and Russian air defenses where a set of road mobile launchers are supported by several other vehicles–the command center, at least two radars, and communications hubs. Linkages to airborne early warning are expected too. Each SiPER transporter-launcher is a multi-axle truck with up to nine missiles loaded in rectangular container. The geographical extent of Türkiye, considering its sensitive airspace and maritime borders, makes the SiPER essential for defensive and deterrence purposes when faced with the threat posed by hostile air forces, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles.

For all its promise, maybe because of the twists and turns in Turkish politics for the most part, the SiPER as a work-in-progress trails behind its peers. Four other Asian countries have directed their own military industries to develop long-range and theater level SAMs. Of course, Israel enjoys a clear advantage with a full suite of air defenses from manufacturers like IAI. But in recent years it’s Iran that pole vaulted in the air defense niche with the Bavar-373 (the weapon system is called “AD-200” when offered for export) whose integrated radar coverage is at a 320 km radius while the Sayyed/Sayyad-class missiles it launches have a ceiling of 90,000 feet, which means any type of aircraft or tactical missile is within its effective range.

Remarkably, the XRSAM or “extended range SAM” from India’s DRDO and its supplier pool is under wraps for the time being. The current preference for indigenous air defenses, as found in the government’s foreign policy and industrial policy, is successful for the most part. In a few short years India’s armed forces have received, or are in the process of receiving, a vast arsenal of anti-aircraft missiles tailored for any domain. Meanwhile in South Korea the government’s practice of bringing together private sector manufacturers and a mature science and technology base is creating the impressive L-SAM. Judging by what’s known about it in the public domain the L-SAM is unparalleled as an anti-ballistic missile countermeasure. Its missiles have extreme range and flight altitude and can release a highly maneuverable interceptor to foil intermediate-range ballistic missiles and the warheads of ICBMs. Like the SiPER the L-SAM may require years of work before it’s fully operational and ready to enter service.

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