Spotlight: Turkey's defense industry shows muscles in Afrin operation

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-03 00:06:47|Editor: yan
Video PlayerClose

ANKARA, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- As Turkey has been investing heavily in the defense industry, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says three quarters of the weaponry systems and equipment used in "Operation Olive Branch" in Syria 's Afrin is domestically produced.

The operation in Afrin marks an important milestone for Turkey's defence industry, and even some systems are newly practiced in the operation, according to experts.

The Turkish army increased use of domestic produced systems in the operation has provided Turkey independence in procuration of weapons, and enabled Ankara to move without political restrictions for purchase from foreign countries, said defense industry expert Arda Mevlutoglu.

Turkish army is using especially domestic production land vehicles, armored vehicles, ammunition systems, precision guided ammunition systems, and infantry weapons in Operation Olive Branch, Mevlutoglu said.

Systems like KORAL land-based transportable electronic warfare systems are observed firstly being used in this mission, he added.

On Jan. 20, the Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Free Syrian Army, launched a military Operation Olive Branch in Afrin targeting Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara sees as offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

All ammunition used in the mission was locally produced, Minister of Defense Nurettirn Canikli stated after the launch of the offensive. The smart HGK bombs, domestically-made multi-barrel rocket launchers and the Firtina (Storm) howitzers produced in Turkish military plants were being used in the operation.

Laser guided CIRIT missiles of Turkish production installed on domestic helicopters ATAK are also used in the operation, according to the list provided by Turkey's Undersecretariat for Defense Industries.

The list also includes national infantry rifle, KORAL land-based transportable electronic warfare system, MAM-L air-to-surface munition, precision guidance kit and mortar radar system SERHAT.

Turkey has achieved self-sufficient in drone technology and Bayraktar TB2 tactical unmanned aerial vehicle is reportedly used in its operation in Afrin. The smart ammunition system MAM-L is loaded onto these drones.

Unmanned drones have been among the most wanted defense procurement of Turkey for its fight against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) for many years.

Turkey had access to very restricted Herons produced in the early 2000s since Israel refused to share technology and know-how in production of its drones.

Turkey has been a major purchaser of U.S. defense products, but Ankara has always faced difficulties to acquire the systems because the U.S. congress refuses to sell some weapons to Turkey.

Israel was another prominent supplier for Turkey's weapons and military equipment, but the bilateral political tension had caused Turkey to fail in procuring Israeli made unmanned drones.

In September, the U.S. Senate blocked the sale of Sig Sauer guns to its NATO ally after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's security guards had a brawl with protesters in Washington.

Recently, Germany suspended plans for modernization of the Turkish army's German-made Leopard tanks.

Use of domestic production in warfare technologies and equipment provides Turkey room for maneuver in Afrin operation as it does not need procurement from another country, Mevlutoglu said.

Turkey would face difficulties to launch Operation Olive Branch if the country was not heavily investing in the defense sector, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once said.

The local share in the country's defense industries has risen to 70 percent from 18 percent over past 15 years.