Turkey Eyes Helo, Satellite Projects

By Andy Nativi

ISTANBUL — Turkey is interested in a “domestic” light-utility platform in the 5-metric-ton class, while it also eyes new military satellites.

For the helo effort, as is the case with Turkey’s fighter ambitions (Aerospace DAILY, May 13), local industry still lacks key skills and would require a major partner.

As part of the competition for a medium-lift utility (TUHP) helicopter, bidders Sikorsky and AgustaWestland had to present plans for how they would work with local industry to build domestic skills. That initiative will be led by Sikorsky, now that it has won the TUHP contest with the T-70, although officials with Turkish defense procurement agency SSM say AgustaWestland remains a fallback.

Turkey also is showing interest in a locally based military satellite capability. Under the Gokturk contract, awarded in December 2008, Telespazio will develop, build and launch a 1-metric-ton-class optical Earth-observation satellite, slated to be orbited in 2013. The launcher has not yet been chosen, and several options (including Vega, Soyuz and Minotaur) are being considered.

The contract includes building a satellite assembly facility that will be capable of handling 1-5-metric-ton satellites.

Turkey already is working on a second Gokturk observation satellite, this one based on a domestically built bus linked with an imported sensor. A synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite, Gokturk 3, is also on the drawing board, with Alselan leading the SAR sensor industrial team.

Another space effort in the cards is a national GPS network comprising six satellites covering Turkey and potential operational areas. Longer term, there are plans for a national small-satellite space launcher capability.

Finally, Turkey is proceeding with the T-Loramids program, with the aim of developing an area air defense missile system that would comprise four battalions each with two batteries. The competition for the $4 billion-plus program has garnered proposals from China, Russia, the U.S. (Patriot PAC-2 GEM+ and PAC-3) and Europe (involving SAMP-T).