29 December 2011 / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL
Shortly after the production of an all-Turkish-made rifle was introduced on Wednesday, Turkey announced plans to beef up its missile defense system, as concerns simmer over the recent flare-up in regional conflicts.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) to develop a long-range missile shield which will be built by Turkish industries.
On Wednesday, along with the prime minister, 13 ministers attended a high-level meeting of the Science and Technology High Council and discussed boosting Turkey's defense industry, including developing a long-range missile shield. According to a report appearing in the Habertürk daily on Thursday, Erdoğan referred to Iran as one example, saying that Iran successfully developed long-range missile systems with a range up to 2,500 km relying on its their sources.
Although Turkey already has a missile system of its own, it has produced only short range missiles that have range up to 150 km, while Iran has conventional long range missile systems, including the Shahab 3 and the Sejil, which could be used to hit Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East. Despite the fact that it has conventional superiority over most neighbors, Turkey has ignored the development of its own ballistic systems for a long time and has been heavily relying on NATO systems in that field. The main objective of the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) is to produce a long-range missile system that has a range up to 2,500 km in the near future.
Erdoğan also noted in the meeting that Turkey began mass production of ATAK helicopters in 2013 which were designed in Turkey and will be the first helicopter built by the Turkish defense industry.
Additionally, the products of the Defense Research and Development Institute (SAGE) in the defense industry will be commercialized just like in the US, and are expected to contribute to Turkish economy, according decisions made during the meeting, the daily reported.
For the first time in republican history, a Turkish firm produced a domestic rifle for the Turkish military which was 100 percent built and designed with domestic technology. With the sponsorship of SSM, Kale Kalıp and the Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKE) jointly manufactured a rifle that passed Turkish Land Forces tests.