20.08.2013 BURAK BEKDİL
Turkey’s defense procurement agency has tasked the country’s leading defense electronics firm Aselsan to develop strategic naval radar, in which Turkey’s capabilities in the field will be tested.
Turkey’s biggest defense company, Aselsan, has won a contract to develop what defense analysts view as an ambitious venture for the design, development and production of a strategic radar.
The contract for the multi-mission phased array radar, known by its Turkish acronym CAFRAD Faz-1, was signed in early August between Aselsan and the country’s defense procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM).
The CAFRAD radar will be similar to the ALPHA multi-mission M-2258 advanced lightweight phased array naval radar developed by Israel’s IAI and Elta for blue water and littoral warfare support. The radar was selected by the Israeli Navy for the upgrade of existing vessels, as well as for its new combatants.
Radar test for Turkey
Analysts said Aselsan’s venture was the first time that Turkey’s local capabilities in radar technologies were being tested. “No doubt, this is a challenge for Aselsan,” said one London-based Turkey specialist. “If the Turks succeed in this program, they will certainly have passed a critical threshold in radar technology.”
A senior Aselsan official was “realistically optimistic” about success. “We are perfectly aware of the technological challenges our engineers will be facing. And we are definitely confident that Aselsan has the capabilities to develop this radar in line with the specified timetable.”
In a written statement, Aselsan said deliveries under the program would be completed between 2014 and 2018. The company will cooperate with the state scientific research institute, TÜBİTAK, for CAFRAD.
Under the plan, a first phase will contain the development of an illumination radar and a non-rotating identification friend-or-foe (IFF) system. The second phase will involve the development of long-range surveillance and multifunctional radars.
The Aselsan official said the CAFRAD demonstrator will define the primary antenna mast architecture for the TF-2000, an air defense frigate Turkey has been developing, and for the vessel’s combat management and area air defense missile systems. He said the work would focus on more sophisticated tests and development after 2014.
Earlier this year, Aselsan announced that it had successfully developed the country’s first indigenous identification friend-or-foe (IFF) system, and delivered the first prototypes to the Turkish military. Aselsan signed a contract with Turkey’s Defense Ministry in December 2006 to design, develop and manufacture the prototypes.
The prototypes developed by Aselsan passed a final round of performance tests in November. They will be installed on Turkey’s F-4 fighter jets and air defense radars and, at later stages, other aerial and naval platforms – except F-16 fighter jets. The IFF enables military and national interrogation systems to identify aircraft, vehicles or forces as friendly and to determine their bearing and range from the interrogator. IFF may be used by both military and civilian aircraft. The major military benefits of IFF include preventing “friendly fire.”
In 2011, Aselsan inked an approximately $1 billion contract to sell low- and medium-altitude air defense systems to the Turkish military. This is the largest single contract awarded to a local company in recent years. Under that contract, Aselsan is developing all radar, fire control, command-and-control and communications systems for both low- and medium-altitude components of the program. Aselsan also will develop and produce missile heads and data links.
Aselsan’s market value was worth $1 billion in 2011, according to independent auditors. It has a backlog of orders worth $4.3 billion until 2018. Aselsan reported Aug. 11 that its 2012 net profit went up by 82 percent to $148 million. Its 2012 net sales, meanwhile, totaled $860 million, and its exports $152 million.