The Turkish Armed Forces have begun working on a project to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), broadcaster NTV reported on its website today.
A decision to launch the project was made in a July 17 meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Board, headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel. Erdoğan had previously requested that the military develop missiles with a 2,500-kilometer range.
The board decided to form a satellite launch center that would have a two-fold effect on Turkey's aerospace and military endeavors. First, the center will enable Turkey to place its own satellites in orbit, and second, the center will allow the Turkish military to launch missiles that can navigate outside of the Earth's atmosphere. Attaining an ICBM launch capability is reportedly the chief aim of the satellite launch center.
The Turkish Defense Ministry, the Defense Industry Undersecretariat and the Scientific and Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), have been jointly working on the project for some time.
The report said Ankara could cooperate with an undisclosed Eastern European country to develop the satellite launch center.
The ICBM project, meanwhile, has sought to improve on the SOM cruise missile developed by TÜBİTAK. The SOM cruise missile has a current range of 300 kilometers. The range would first be increased to 1,500 and later to 2,500 kilometers within the project, according to the report.
The report did not elaborate on whether the SOM's planned 2,500-kilometer range would be increased even further or whether its increased range would be utilized to develop an ICBM separately, as missiles with ranges under 5,500 kilometers are not considered "intercontinental."
The countries known to currently have ICBMs in their military arsenal are Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China and India.