T-LORAMIDS & S-400
Late 2017, Turkey finalised a deal with Moscow for the purchase of Russia’s S-400 anti-missile system, despite concerns voiced by some of the NATO member’s allies. At the same time, Ankara also reached a deal with Eurosam to develop a similar air and anti-missile defence system.
The deal with Moscow would make Turkey the first member of NATO to own Russia’s most advanced air defence system, comes amid strengthening ties between Turkey and Russia and Ankara’s deteriorating relations with the United States and other Western countries. The Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) said in a statement late 2017 that Turkey would buy at least one S-400 surface-to-air missile battery with the option of procuring a second battery, while Turkish media reported that Turkey would purchase four S-400 units at a cost of $2.5 billion. The delivery of the first battery was scheduled for the first quarter of 2020, the statement said. The two countries also finalised a financial agreement for the project, under which part of the cost would be financed through a Russian loan. According to news sources, the contract is worth $2.5 billion and that a Russian loan would account for 55% of the sum.
The reason for the discrepancy over the number of batteries Russia would supply Turkey was not immediately clear, due to “principles of secrecy” agreed to by the two countries.
The S-400 has a range of up to 400km (about 249mk) and can simultaneously engage multiple targets. It is capable of shooting down ballistic missile warheads along with aircraft and cruise missiles. Russia deployed the S-400s to its base in Syria to deter Turkey when the two nations were on the verge of conflict after a Turkish jet downed a Russian bomber on the Syrian border in November 2015. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced in September that Turkey had signed a deal to buy the Russian system and made a down payment, drawing concerns from some of Turkey’s NATO allies.
Early January 2018, Turkey awarded Eurosam, Aselsan and Roketsan a contract for the definition study of the future Turkish Long Range Air and Missile Defence System (T-LORAMIDS), based of the technology of the SAMP/T and the ASTER missile produced by Eurosam.
Scheduled to last 18 months, this definition study aims at preparing the development and production contract for the future system meeting the operational requirements of the Turkish Air Force. The contract was awarded by the SSM jointly to Turkish companies Aselsan and Roketsan, and to the Franco-Italian consortium Eurosam; backed by its two shareholders MBDA and Thales.
The contract follows on from the Heads of Agreement signed by industry on 14 July 2017 and the Letter Of Intent signed by the French, Italian and Turkish Defence Ministers on 8 November 2017.
The study paves the way for the launch of a three-country joint Long Range Air and Missile Defence Programmd. The future system will be ready by the middle of the next decade with a state-of-the-art military capability designed to counter the most challenging threats (stealth aircraft, UAVs, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles). The system is expected to meet three countries’ basic operational needs and it will guarantee Turkey has full employment autonomy and will allow a sovereign choice of integration level within NATO. The joint development activity is expected to support Turkey’s indigeneous air and missile development programme in addition to opening up prospects for exports and longer-term co-operation of Turkey, Italy and France.
At the signing ceremony of this definition study contract, Abdoulaye Samba, Eurosam Managing Director, stated: “Eurosam has been fully dedicated to air and missile defence since its inception in 1989 and has acquired world-class expertise as well as a unique experience of co-operation in this strategic and eminently sovereign domain. Today, we are proud to provide this know-how to the co-operation between France and Italy with their Turkish ally within NATO. I am confident that this co-operation will also last several decades and will contribute to bringing our countries closer on a strategic level, as it has been the case for the last thirty years with France and Italy. “
The SAMP/T system in operation within the French and Italian Armed Forces for more than five years, contributes to the NATO Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) capability. In June 2016, Eurosam’s SAMP/T long-range air-defence unit arrived in southern Turkey’s Kahramamaras province as part of NATO measures to reinforce Turkey’s border defences against a possible Syrian missile threat.