|Possible Turkish Air Forces SOJ Aircraft|
August 22 2012
By BURAK EGE BEKDIL and UMIT ENGINSOY
ANKARA Recent political incidents, especially the downing of a Turkish reconnaissance jet by Syria, have given urgency to efforts to improve the Turkish Air Forces standoff jammer capabilities.
Following the release of a request for proposals in May, the programs prime contractor, Aselsan, started receiving preliminary briefings from potential foreign contenders who would supply the systems.
The contract is structured as direct procurement of airborne platforms and local system integration, a procurement official familiar with the program said. The system integration will be carried out by Aselsan, but Turkish officials expect competition among around half a dozen foreign aircraft manufacturers. Industry officials said potential contenders could include Bombardier, Embraer, Antonov, Gulfstream, Airbus and Boeing.
The same procurement official estimated the final cost of the standoff jammer program at about $1 billion. Of that, the official said, about 25 to 35 percent will go to the aircraft manufacturer and the rest will be spent on local systems integration.
The procurement official said an initial batch of four aircraft would be procured and the final purchase could reach eight. The proposed system will have a range of 200 kilometers.
The standoff jammers will be designed to enable Turkish military aircraft to conduct surveillance on and jam enemy radars and communications networks during offensive airborne operations against target countries, according to the programs official description.
In the most recent incident, Syria on June 22 downed a Turkish reconnaissance jet because it had violated its airspace. Turkey responded that although the RF-4E had momentarily violated the Syrian airspace, the aircraft was on a training mission to test the Turkish radars and was shot down in international airspace.
Turkey and Syria have been at odds since the fall, when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan began spearheading international efforts to depose Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. The row emerged after al-Assad began to violently suppress riots in Syria last year. Before the downing of the Turkish jet, Turkey locked horns with Cyprus and Israel over the two countries efforts to explore hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey has pledged to increase its aerial and naval military presence in that region.
In the mid-1990s, Aselsan, Turkeys biggest defense company, produced and delivered the JAMINT-2U, a jammer system designed for the Turkish C-160 military transport aircraft. And under a 2009 contract, Aselsan produced its JAMINT 3 V/UHF Tactical Communications Jammer System.
A defense analyst here said VHF/UHF radio communications are an essential element in the command and control of forces on the modern battlefield.
Disruption of [the] enemys communications links in critical situations means an effective force multiplier, he said.
JAMINT-3 operates in the VHF/UHF frequency band to intercept and analyze enemy communication channels and apply jamming to certain channels as instructed by the Command Center. It consists of a fourwheel-drive vehicle and a single-axle trailer. The analyst said it was not clear how fast the Turkish procurement mechanism would progress with the standoff jammer program. But there is an understanding in higher echelons of the procurement and military bureaucracy to give priority to this program, he said. Especially the generals think they need the jammers as quickly as possible to increase airborne deterrence. The political climate surrounding Turkey also justifies this requirement.