ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's defense procurement agency has unveiled an ambitious procurement plan for 2020, even as its economy seeks to recover from a recession and the government spends money fighting wars in multiple theaters, including Iraq and Syria.
Under the plan, the Presidency of Defense Industries, or SSB, said the Akinci, an attack drone built by Baykar, will be delivered to the military at the end of 2020. On Jan. 20, the Akinci successfully performed its second round of test flights. Selçuk Bayraktar, Baykar's technical director, said the second test lasted 66 minutes.
Also this year, according to SSB, delivery of the kamikaze drone Kargu-2 will begin. Under a contract with the state-controlled defense technologies concern STM, the Turkish government will acquire a total of 356 Kargu-2 drones.
According to the work plan, STM will also start delivering the Alpagu, a fixed-wing, autonomous tactical attack drone. Military officials say their asymmetrical warfare efforts against Kurdish militants in southeast Turkey would largely rely on the Alpagu in drone-centric fighting.
In addition, the procurement agency said it will sign a contract for the production of cargo drones.
SSB said the Land Forces will sign in 2020 a contract for the acquisition of scores of basic trainer helicopters. In the 1990s, Turkey procured 33 AB206 and AB206R choppers, made by Bell, for the Land Forces and the Gendarmerie. SSB sought bids for trainer helicopters in July 2019. Industry sources say potential bidders are Airbus, maker of the H135; AgustaWestland, maker of the TH-119; and Bell, maker of the single-engine GXi and the twin-engine 429 GlobalRanger.
SSB expects deliveries for the T625 helicopter program to begin in 2020. The T625 Gökbey is a utility helicopter developed locally by Turkish Aerospace Industries. Despite the 2020 target for deliveries, industry sources say deliveries would probably start in 2021. TAI's sister company, Tusas Engine Industries, is developing an indigenous engine, known as the TS1400, for the T625.
Also, in 2020, according to the plan, TAI will start delivery of its ATAK FAZ-2, an advanced version of the ATAK T129 helicopter gunships built under license from the Italian-British company AgustaWestland. The ATAK FAZ-2 features advanced laser warning and electronic warfare systems. Turkey plans to buy a batch of 21 ATAK FAZ-2.
SSB hopes that at the end of 2020, Turkey's most critical naval program will come to the delivery stage when the TCG Anadolu, a landing platform dock, will enter service. The multipurpose amphibious assault vessel will be the biggest warship in Turkey's inventory. It is being built by Turkish shipyards Sedef under license from Spain's Navantia.
"The [LPD] program is progressing just as planned," said SSB's head, Ismail Demir.
However, a London-based Turkey specialist told Defense News that parts of the new procurement plan do not appear to be realistic. "Fiscal constraints and technological barriers would likely delay several programs," the analyst said.
One emphasis on the 2020 procurement program appears to be in indigenous air defense systems. SSB plans to launch firing tests for the Hisar-O, a medium-range defense system developed by Aselsan, Turkey's biggest defense company, and Roketsan, a missile maker. Both companies are controlled by the government.
On Feb. 5, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the Hisar-A, the low-range version of the Hisar-O, would be deployed along Turkey's border with Syria where various rebel groups and the Syria government are battling.
The Turkish military is also expected to receive the Korkut low-altitude air defense system. Meanwhile, firing tests will be launched for portable air defense systems. Other planned 2020 deliveries include scores of smart ammunition and rockets.
Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based political analyst and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.