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Turkish soldier handles a national flag at the monument of Sukru Pasa, a national hero who defended Edirne region during the Balkan War in 1913, in Edirne, western Turkey (File)

Going Rogue? NATO Puzzled by Turkey’s Move to Develop Offensive Weapons

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Turkey has recently reiterated its intention to build offensive missile systems, claiming that it is “difficult for a country to be deterrent with defensive missiles only”; the move has puzzled NATO, as it's doubtful that the member state's demand for such arms has any “strategic sense” and calls into question whether Turkey intends to go rogue.

“It is puzzling from a NATO perspective that this ally wants to develop offensive missile capabilities,” one NATO ambassador in Ankara told the website Defense News. “Turkey is part of the security umbrella. We are not sure if any Turkish effort for offensive missiles makes strategic sense … despite [Turkey’s] legitimate perceptions of increased military threat in its region."

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan listens to statements at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015
© AP Photo/ Francois Mori
His words are echoed by an EU ambassador in Ankara, who also said that the Turkish move to put an offensive system in place was “confusing”.

“Such ambitions can fuel sectarian tensions in the region. A missile rivalry between a NATO member and Iran does not sound pleasant in any way,” he is quoted as saying by the website.

Turkey’s ambitions have caused concerns from other experts, who are wondering if Turkey may eventually go rogue.

“Ballistic missiles have certain disadvantages … like lack of precision. They can also be easily intercepted. Their limited payload is another problem. In comparison a modern fighter jet can carry up to four or five times more payload and is an agile aerial asset,” said one London-based Turkey specialist.

He explained that missiles are often preferred by “rogue states” as they can carry biological, chemical and nuclear warheads.

“Turkey is not a rogue state and it is curious that it has ambitions to develop offensive missile systems,” he added.

On January 7, Turkey’s top procurement official, Ismail Demir, reiterated Turkey’s ambitions to develop offensive missiles.

“It is difficult for a country to be deterrent with defensive missiles only … This is why offensive [missile] systems too should be developed,” Demir claimed at a briefing to the Turkish parliament’s defense committee.

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“The political authority is determined that Turkey should possess such missile capabilities. How, at what cost and how soon are questions that remain to be examined,” he added.

In November, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on the Turkish national TV channel ATV that Turkey may adopt a strategy of local acquisition of long-range surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) with offensive capabilities with a range of about 3,000 kilometers.

Earlier in November Turkey scrapped a $3.44 billion tender for the SAM system, code-named T-Loramids, for which in 2013 it selected as a contractor China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. (CPMIEC), offering the HQ-9 system.

The selection of CPMIEC drew considerable criticism from the US as well as from other NATO allies over inter-operability and the security issues of operating a Chinese system.

“What is important is whether we will engage in defense or offense in the long term. We want [these missiles] to be developed locally but to also have an offensive nature. With the cancellation of the missile tender we took this step. We are currently developing missiles, but we are not at the level we want them to be concerning their range,” Erdogan told ATV on November 18, highlighting that the canceled T-Loramids project was a missile defense project.

The politicians admit that at any such program’s initial stages, Turkey would need foreign know-how.

Without naming any particular country that may be willing to assist any Turkish program, Ismail Demir, however, did not reject the “Chinese option.”

Turkish media also suggests that it is highly possible Ankara may “knock on China's door” to develop its own long-range missiles with ballistic missile capability.

“This is because Turkey's allies will refrain from forging any cooperation with Ankara to help it develop long-range missiles that will have ballistic missile capabilities as well,” suggests Turkish English-language daily Today’s Zaman.

The move, it says, will mark a dramatic change in Turkey's defense policy of acquiring non-offensive weapons.

“Hence it now seems Turkey will no longer rely solely on NATO's security umbrella in the case of any threats posed to it and will go solo when necessary.”

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NATO, offensive, development, weapons, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, China, Turkey, Ankara
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  • michael
    so now turkey or its government wishes to be offensive in other ways. :)
  • Well, that is fine. Nothing to worry about. The USA has slapped new sanctions on Iran for testing of ballistic missiles. It is clear now what Turkey's intentions are so before we get to any testing phase the USA should stay true to its foreign policy that it implemented just today/yesterday. Let's see Obama walking out to the mic saying the same stuff as he did for Iran. If he does not do it, considering that Iran and Russia are allies now, I reckon a number of strategically positioned missiles should be stored on the Iranian territory with a number of military bases leased to the Russians for free and indefinitely.

    Then Erdogan can build anything he bloody wants.
  • $3.4bn tender was scrapped! Is this because EU does not want to fork out 3bn Euro for the migrants? I think the Americans knew about this. Only months ago or less they have started withdrawing their planes. Let's see if this is going to accelerate.

    Does anyone know how many US planes there are in Turkey, now?
  • marcanhalt
    It is what the world needs; another mad man with a death wish. And the "Red Button"? Make it a yellow one instead. That way he won't get confused as to what his head and eyes are not coming into contact with when he has one of his repentant 'moments'. And here is a clue, too; if you are going to make 'the bomb', make certain you do not irritate the very intelligentsia in your country you entrust to build it. Otherwise, you just might wonder what that ticking sound you keep hearing is. You know, like Tick Tock the Crocodile in Peter Pan who was always looking for the rest of his lunch? So, be careful when your own security people insist you wear a GPS device.
  • marcanhalt, well, Russia has announced that they have about 70 planes in Syria. Big deal. The rest of them if needed can be there in 2-3 hours.
  • Warren Abeshouse
    The obvious concern is that if Turkey does acquire SAMs, they will use them on the long-suffering Kurds, who for over one hundred years, have wanted their own nation, but denied that ambition by the secret and unfortunate Sykes-Picot Agreement. As we have seen, Turkey is more concerned with bombing the PKK and innocent civilians than the evil Daesh insurgents because they are determined not to let the Kurds have their way. For this reason, the world should be extremely worried if Turkey proceeds in this direction.
  • in reply toWarren Abeshouse(Show commentHide comment)
    Warren Abeshouse, yes, absolutely correct but will it happen, and if it does, what could be expected as a reciprocal action on the Kurdish part?
  • Warren Abeshouse
    Vendor, if Turkey do get SAMs and decide to use them on the Kurds, apart from the huge worldwide outcry, the Kurds, i.e. the PKK, will definitely retaliate more forcefully than they have heretofore and probably seek help from other sympathetic parties, which will only exacerbate the many problems in the Middle East. The main problem is that the PKK has been listed as a terrorist entity and recognised as such by the USA, among others. To make matters worse, the Kurds do not have a seat at the UN, so they can't make an official complaint and with Israel about to normalise relations with Turkey, the one nation in the region that could stand up for the Kurds is hamstrung. Of the four countries where Kurds reside, their status within Turkey is unfavourable, undemocratic and tenuous, to say the least. Once can only hope that none of this comes to pass, as it would be an absolute catastrophe for its Kurdish population.
  • slimyfox
    Turkey is taking China as example of how to develop fast. They same as Chinese are stealing intellectual property and try to make their own product out of it. They are aware that stealing from NATO countries is very difficult because it is unacceptable to steal from the "Friends". That is wht they wanted to buy Chinese product instead. Just before shooting down Russian bomber Turkey expressed interest in buying S-350 or S-400 from Russia. That would of course mean reverse engineering with USA help and redesigning system to make it looking like something Turkish, for example painting Turkish flag on a missile, that would make it legally Turkish invention (?).

    Turkey is aware that dreams about creating new Ottoman Empire cannot be fulfilled within NATO membership as it will require some hard convincing in certain areas such as Syria, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and other countries under the Ottoman empire in the region.

    Turkey would love to become Middle East undisputed Tyrant who would be able to blackmail world with gas and oil. In order to achieve that Sultan Erdogan needs to have free hands and that means either NATO will do his bidding or he will leave NATO but still keep them for a balls by threatening them to allow Russian fleet to get out of black sea onto Mediterranean sea.

    Sultan Erdogan is madman and it is clear that as Hitler or USA he does not understand that it is impossible to conquer and subdue free nations, and that at the end he will lose just as USA lost every single major war it perpetrated.

    Sultan Erdogan - madman believes that by having offensive weapons he will be able to return Ottoman Empire and the most scary is the fact that he would without hesitation use it against weak and defenceless enemies of his sick dreams.
  • Ivan Zadorozhny
    A logical move by Turkey. Only a matter of time before it leaves the "security umbrella". Then it's back to war with Greece as usual.
  • Well all nato countries are rogue so turkey just wants to catch up.
  • Huh?in reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    Jet fuel can't melt steel beams, are you referring to the Non Aligned Threat Organization?
  • Huh?
    I think everyone's comments are great and stating straightforward points....but let's assume that Turkey acquires offensive weapons. They can't just make them in a vacuum.
    So that means whatever country sells them offensive weapons opens Pandoras Box on themselves as well. How would a country explain away giving them threat weapons?
  • Huh?in reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    vendor, Obamas speech...blah blah blah IRAN blah blah turkey blah IRAN IRAN IRAN blah blah...
  • in reply toWarren Abeshouse(Show commentHide comment)
    Warren Abeshouse, I agree with you. My proposition to alleviate the PKK issue is that this party it to be dissolved effective immediately and all their members to pledge loyalty to Rights and Freedoms Party with emphasis on a high degree of autonomy for the region of Kurdistan within the borders of Turkey. And then 5 years from now while establishing a proper autonomous region that is governed by the Kurds for the Kurds announce a referendum mirroring the same process Scots went through recently. If the Turks retaliate, ask for an immediate protection from Russia, Iran and Syria who would provide weapons for personal protection of the Kurdish population against genocide.
  • in reply toHuh?(Show commentHide comment)
    Huh?, the only thing I liked during that speech was his freshly dry cleaned white shirt.
  • ozcanerdonmezin reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    vendor,

    Iran's development of ballistic missiles is not a violation of any international law or agreement.
  • ozcanerdonmezin reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    Jet fuel can't melt steel beams,

    Yes, it's ridiculous this criticism coming from NATO, which is the biggest threat to peace on earth.
  • Someone in the Chinese government woke up and noticed that a Chinese company wanted to sell missiles to the biggest sponsor of Uighur terrorism, then stopped the deal. The Turks can talk about Chinese gear, but talk's cheap. Iran has a lot of cash freeing up for a complete military overhaul with no record of promoting terrorism in Xinjiang... and SCO membership. China won't endanger its potential to Iran, and Turkey doesn't need these missiles anyhow. Their air and armoured forces are plenty for rampaging around the ME.
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