08:30 GMT +322 October 2018
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    A Leopard 2 tank is pictured during a demonstration event held for the media by the German Bundeswehr in Munster near Hannover, Germany. (File)

    Turkey 'Has Come a Long Way' in Developing Its Own Weapons - Generals

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    There have been conflicting reports about Germany mulling a suspension on the delivery of modernized Leopard main battle tanks to Turkey in light of Ankara’s ongoing military operation in northern Syria.

    Germany’s possible decision to freeze the supply of modernized Leopard tanks requested by Turkey will by no means slow down the pace of the military operation against Kurds in Afrin, two retired Turkish generals have told Sputnik.

    ”Turkey is using a whole range of arms, including US tanks and modernized German Leopards as part of its successful military operation which became possible after Russia agreed to open its airspace to the Turkish Air Force,” retired Major General Armagan Kuloglu said in an interview with Sputnik Turkey.

    He dismissed a possible German embargo as a symbolic gesture aimed at domestic consumption.

    “Berlin did not openly criticize the operation in Afrin, but shortly after, said it was suspending the leopard modernization plan. I see this as a nod to the country’s sizable Kurdish community and also to the Greens. Therefore, I think that the Merkel government made this decision to dampen the opposition voices and boost her political positions. I believe that it won’t be long before talks on the modernization program are resumed,” the general noted.

    Retired Brigadier-General Ali Er, who has spent many years working within NATO’s command structures, agreed with his colleague that Turkey’s military operation in Afrin will not be hampered by the suspension of the Leopard modernization program.

    He said that Turkey has everything it needs for the effective use and maintenance of its imported tanks.

    “Besides, we have enough spare parts to keep us going for at least another 10 years. […] The infrastructure that we have today is ideal for both short-term combat operations and long-term ones,” he emphasized.

    “I don’t think that our military modernization programs will depend on German [assistance] any time soon, because we have come a long way in developing our own weapons,” he added.

    When asked how possible disagreements between Turkey and its NATO partners might impact the combat readiness of its armed forces, General Er said that since the Turkish military never takes time-serving decisions, especially when it comes to weapons systems, the defense strategy is outlined as part of a general system of national priorities, which is a decades-long process.

    “Therefore, it will take 10 or 15 years before the tensions currently existing between Turkey and NATO start being reflected on our security strategy,” the general concluded.

    READ MORE: Ankara Says Germany's Suspension of Arms Exports to Turkey Will Backfire on EU

    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday denied a Spiegel report that Germany had frozen the supply of Leopard main battle tanks to Ankara in light of the ongoing Turkish military operation in northern Syria.

    He called Germany Turkey's ally and said that Ankara expects "support and solidarity" from Berlin.

    Related:

    Turkey Denies Reports of Leopard Tanks Supplies Halt by Germany Amid Afrin Op
    Ankara Says Germany's Suspension of Arms Exports to Turkey Will Backfire on EU
    Tags:
    military operation, suspension, delivery, tanks, Leopard 2, NATO, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Angela Merkel, Ali Er, Armagan Kuloglu, Turkey
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