Celebrated as Turkey’s first indigenously-developed guided missile system, Cirit (Jareed) has managed to attract worldwide attention at the IDEF 2011 international defence industry fair in Istanbul.
Developed by Roketsan, one of Turkey’s fastest growing defence firms and a prominent national center for weapons R&D, Cirit is a 70mm-diameter, lightweight, semi-active laser guided missile designed to be fired from primarily attack helicopters against lightly-armored and unarmored vehicles, as well as formations of ‘soft’ targets. Cirit fully complies with the highest NATO standards of MIL-STD 810 and MIL-STD 464, as well as MIL-STD 1760 for its M or LAU-type launcher interface. Capable of high precision strike with a circular error probable (CEP) of only a few centimeters, Cirit is also capable of tracking and destroying moving targets up to 8,000 meters from its launch point.
The weapon’s name is based on a traditional Turkish horseback game, where two teams of riders fight a mock battle using wooden javelins, called in Turkish a cirit.
Development of the missile was started in 2004 as a cooperative project between Roketsan and TUBITAK-SAGE, and it was first made public during IDEF 2007. Cirit has completed all of its tests and NATO qualification stage throughout 2009-10 and as of the date of this article, is reported to be in component serial production stage.
Cirit provides a low-cost solution for engaging lightly armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, trucks and transports without having to fire a more expensive anti-tank missile for which these types of targets would be an overkill and cannon or machinegun fire would be ineffective or out of range. As a medium-reach guided weapon solution in its category, it fills the gap between long-range guided anti-tank missiles and shorter range unguided rockets.
Roketsan currently provides two types of warhead solutions. First type, a multipurpose one, has a tanden setup for limited armor penetration and an incendiary second stage with some fragmentation, making it extremely lethal for the aforementioned types of enemy vehicles. The second warhead type is a single stage high explosive charge with a lot of fragmentation, designed for engaging soft targets dispersed on terrain and the additional collateral effect.
Cirit is expected to become a major weapon of choice aboard Turkey’s T-129 attack helicopters, a TAI-Aselsan development based on the Italian A-129I helicopter with an upgraded engine and Turkish electronics.
Government of Australia has already shown interest in acquiring a number of Cirits and the Eurocopter consortium signed a memorandum of understanding with Roketsan during IDEF 2011 for the integration of Cirit launchers on their new EC635 multi-purpose light helicopters.
With its ever increasing R&D budget and other ambitious missile projects such as UMTAS and OMTAS anti-tank systems slowly maturing, Roketsan plans to achieve continuous global presence among the world’s top 50 defence firms by 2023, 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.
Hasan Y. Karaahmet, TR Defence