Saturday, June 11, 2011

DTN News - TURKISH DEFENSE NEWS: Turkish PM Focuses On Defense Industry In Poll Campaign

DTN News - TURKISH DEFENSE NEWS: Turkish PM Focuses On Defense Industry In Poll Campaign
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada / ANKARA, Turkey - June 11, 2011:
Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is putting an unprecedented emphasis on the defense industry in its campaign for the June 12 elections. The party's promises focus on establishing and developing a domestic industry that comes near to being self-sufficient. PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says the capital city of Ankara will become the headquarters of the sector.
Visions for the defense industry have not played a key role in election campaigns by either a ruling or opposition party ahead of previous Turkish polls. But this year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been holding up Turkey’s developing national defense industry as one of the pillars of a modern economy in the 2020s.
In the weeks leading up to the nationwide parliamentary election that will be held June 12, Erdoğan had made three major speeches on the national defense industry.
Explaining his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP’s, election manifesto in late April, Erdoğan pledged that Turkey’s local defense companies would manufacture indigenous “tanks, helicopters, war planes, unmanned aerial vehicles and military satellites in the next 12 years.”
The prime minister has vigorously set out a national strategy to maximize local production in Turkey’s defense programs, aiming at what he calls “near self-sufficiency.” In recent years, Turkey has practically suspended off-the-shelf purchase options, restructuring programs into local development or coproduction.
As it seeks re-election for a third term in power, the incumbent AKP government is also ambitiously planning to make Ankara, the country’s capital, into a “global defense industry base.”
In a televised speech May 25, Erdoğan said new investments would make Ankara a global defense and aerospace center catering to both local and international companies.
“Turkey’s defense industry capital is Ankara,” Erdoğan reiterated in a May 29 speech. He said local companies are targeting $8 billion in sales by 2016, $6 billion of which will come from companies based in Ankara. Two major planned investments will serve the prime minister’s goal, according to defense industry officials.
The first involves the Ankara-based powerhouse Turkish Aerospace Industries, or TAI, which already has pushed the button to build a $100 million Satellite Assembly, Integration and Test Center, or UMET.
TAI’s general manager, Muharrem Dörtkaşlı, said UMET would become operational by the end of 2012. “This will be a place where final assembly of both military and civilian satellites will be carried out with state-of-the-art technology. Also, the planned center will conduct series of tests with full space-simulation capability before satellites are launched,” Dörtkaşlı said.
Making, testing satellites
According to Erdoğan, a total of 120 engineers will be employed at the facility, where two satellites will be able to go through simultaneous production and testing. “First, we will assemble and test the Göktürk [military] satellite at the new plant,” Dörtkaşlı said.
Telespazio, a joint venture between Italy’s defense giant Finmeccanica and France’s Thales, signed a nearly 250 million-euro deal a couple of years ago to lead the effort for the Turkish military satellite. Finmeccanica has a 67 percent stake in Telespazio.
TAI was created in the late 1980s to carry out partial production and assembly of the F-16 fighter aircraft, made by the U.S. firm Lockheed Martin. In its early years, it also assembled the Spanish-made CN-235 light transport aircraft and some utility helicopters.
Now it is the prime contractor in building 60 T-129 attack helicopters developed by the Italian AgustaWestland for the Turkish Army. It also has been selected as prime contractor in Turkey’s coproduction of at least 109 T-70 utility helicopters, Turkish versions of the U.S. firm Sikorsky Aircraft’s S-70i Black Hawk International. TAI also is coproducing the KT-1 basic trainer aircraft with South Korea, developing its own basic trainer aircraft and is building Turkey’s first medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, the Anka.
The second investment plan is for the building of a Radar and Electronic Warfare Systems center in Gölbaşı, near Ankara. The center will be built and operated by Aselsan, Turkey’s biggest defense company and a military electronics specialist.
Aselsan, also based in the capital, last year obtained a 192.5 million Turkish Liras ($130 million) investment incentive from the Treasury for the new center. Industry sources said the total cost for building the new plant would be around $200 million.
They said Aselsan plans to start production at the planned facility in 2013. Principal tasks will be the research, development, design and production of air defense radars, land radars, signal interceptors, jammers, microwave modules and various pieces of electronic warfare equipment.
Aselsan plans to transfer the 700 employees currently active at its Macunköy, Ankara, plant to the new site. There will be additional 400 engineering positions available.
Hürriyet Daily News
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*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News



DTN News - UAE DEFENSE NEWS: Bigger Than Blackwater ~ Arming The UAE

DTN News - UAE DEFENSE NEWS: Bigger Than Blackwater ~ Arming The UAE
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - June 11, 2011:
The International Defense Exhibition, otherwise known as IDEX, has been held bi-annually in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since 1993. It is the largest defense expo in the Middle East and North Africa and one of the biggest in the world. But far from being a one-off, it highlights the UAE’s growing stature as a global arms buyer.
This year’s IDEX took place in the glistening Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center. Its high ceilings and massive rooms displayed a diverse array of high-tech weaponry against the backdrop of heavily illuminated signboards like the ones you see in the showrooms of luxury car dealerships. All the big Western defense corporations were there — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Dyncorp, Northrup Grumman, European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. — as well as Chinese companies, including China North. There were also a host of local companies including Arabian Aerospace, Abu Dhabi Ship Building Company, and the state-owned Mubadala. Like all of these events, it was a heavily male enterprise. The exhibitors wore suits. The visitors wore either the military uniform of the UAE or traditional Arab dress.
The most advanced F-16s in the world are not American. That distinction belongs to the United Arab Emirates, whose F-16 E/F Block 60s are a half-generation ahead of the F-16 C/D Block 50/52+ aircraft that form the backbone of the US Air Force, and of many other fleets around the world. The Block 60 has been described as a lower-budget alternative to the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter – and has been treated as such in countries like India and the Netherlands, as they contemplate their future fighter needs

Outside, the expo began with a parade and air show, and representatives from BAE Systems gave passersby a tour of the latest features of their all-terrain tank. Just inside the entry hall, visitors could check out a parked yellow Hummer on their way to the exhibits. At the U.S. pavilion, a representative from Boeing demonstrated the features of its integrated defense simulator, and General Dynamics showed off its latest MK- 47 machine gun. At the Lockheed Martin exhibit, you could get within inches of anti-aircraft missiles propped on plastic risers like pieces of modernist art — so shiny you could see your reflection in them.

This lavish exhibition occurred a full three months before The New York Timesbroke the story that former Blackwater/Xe founder Erik Prince had struck a secret deal worth $529 million with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, to form a mercenary army for the UAE. According to reports cited in the story, the force will be used to protect oil pipelines and skyscrapers against terrorist attacks and suppress internal uprisings of the large population of migrant workers living in the country — as well as potentially engaging Iran, long the UAE’s biggest regional foe.

Coverage so far has centered on Prince and his notorious company. But the full story of the UAE’s employment of foreign companies to build up its military and defense goes well beyond Blackwater/Xe and includes a virtual who’s who of Western defense companies.

A Brief History of the UAE Military

The UAE we know today is a relatively new entity. For most of the last two centuries Britain provided security in the region in exchange for lucrative trading deals and control of the sheikhs’ relations with other foreign powers. Security was handed over to the UAE in 1971, when the sheikhs of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and four other emirates agreed to form a federal union.

Although the UAE’s military, known as the Union Defense Force (UDF), is technologically advanced, it is relatively small in numbers. In many armies, the vast underclass typically fills the rank and file. But in the UAE, this social group is made up almost entirely of non-citizens — migrant workers who build the roads, skyscrapers, and golf courses where the oil titans and Branjelinas of the world like to play. There are currently about 65,000 members serving in the UDF. Though most of the officers are UAE nationals, most of the foot soldiers are mercenaries from other Arab states and Pakistan.

In recent years the UAE has made massive military and defense investments in an effort to rebuff Iran, become a dominant military player in the region, and diversify its oil-dependent economy. Recruiting ever more foreign soldiers — like the Colombian paramilitaries who will be part of Prince’s mercenary outfit — is a key part of this endeavor. Purchasing ever larger amounts of the best high-tech weaponry is perhaps an even more important part. In 2009, the UAE was the biggest foreign purchaser of U.S. arms. In October 2010, it invited 50 U.S.-based defense companies to visit and see the opportunities for growth first-hand.

Who’s Profiting from the UAE Arms Proliferation?

The UAE’s long-term plan is to build its own defense industry into a major international player. In accordance with this plan, 75 percent of the contracts at IDEX went to local firms, including Emirate Systems, which got a $550 million deal to coordinate military intelligence and communicate military operations down the chain of command. Another major deal involved the Abu Dhabi-based Bayanat Company, which obtained a contract to provide aerial surveillance within the UAE.

As with most aspects of the UAE economy, Western businesses have an integral and profitable role to play in this endeavor. They work as “partners” with the local companies. Typically, this means they provide the expertise, training, and equipment, while the UAE government provides the money. The state-owned Mubadala Development Company, which has seen growing profits in recent years, does business with all the biggest Western contractors.

All parties involved are careful about how they publicly frame these partnerships. The UAE works hard to brand such endeavors with the proper Arabian stamp. To this end, an official video of the UAE armed forces posted on YouTube shows shirtless Arab sailors with turbans rowing apace with a massive battleship, men in long white robes and head scarves riding vigorously atop Arabian horses alongside tanks in the desert, and real-live falcons flying next to F-16 Fighting Falcon planes. Okay, we get it. Modern killing technology meets the elegant tradition of the Arabian warrior. This is the best of both worlds, a potent (pun intended) mixture of Western and Arabian warrior traditions.

The Western defense industries are equally careful to stem potential accusations that they have sold out to foreign Muslims who might one day turn their backs on us and join the global jihad. In the United States, industry reps couch their connections with the UAE in the all-American lingo of good business ethics. The spokesperson for the National Defense Industries Association (NDIA), the industry’s most influential lobbying arm, explained that the UAE firms “profess similar values as U.S. industry. They all emphasize integrity, service, commitment and excellence.”

They also share the value of making money. A brief sampling of recent contracts gives an idea of just how much money is at stake in the growth of the UAE’s military apparatus:

Who Loses Out?

The rapid expansion of the UAE military has the tacit support, if not outright blessing, of the U.S. government. In response to the news that Blackwater had struck a deal with the UAE, an Obama administration official was quoted as saying, “The gulf countries, and the UAE in particular, don’t have a lot of military experience. It would make sense if they looked outside their borders for help…They might want to show that they are not to be messed with.” The Defense Department recently announced reforms that will make it easier for domestic defense companies to export their products to foreign buyers.

There are at least two reasons for the administration’s position. First and foremost, it regards the UAE as one of its most important allies in the region. The Emirates supported both Iraq Wars, and it currently is involved in cracking down on the protest movement in Bahrain — it sent 500 police officers to suppress the revolt in the tiny Gulf kingdom. In the midst of the crackdown, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed was welcomed by the White House with open arms.

Support for exporting U.S. arms to the UAE is also part of a larger move to accommodate the defense industry, which has repeatedly voiced concern about the threat of a shrinking defense budget, although the supposed 78 billion dollars in cuts represent little more than a cap on future growth and a reshuffling of the current budget.

In this broader context of both the U.S. willingness to provide arms for Gulf allies and the ongoing budget wars in the United States, direct contracts between the defense industry and the UAE appear to be a win-win situation for everyone — everyone, that is, except the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers and critics of the UAE regime who will be among the targets of the military’s beefed-up surveillance systems and the mercenary’s guns.

It is telling that the UAE government would rather hire mercenaries to suppress potential rebellions than improve the conditions of these workers, who are systemically abused by their bosses and forced to live in cramped slums with little or no access to basic infrastructure and services. In recent months, the UAE has arrested and jailed at least five democracy activists as well as disbanded the board of directors for the National Jurists Association and the Teacher’s Association, two of the country’s most eminent civil society organizations and supporters of democratic reform. The UAE’s enhanced military apparatus will likely suppress any potential protest movement that might develop as part of the Arab Spring.

The enhanced ties between the United States and the UAE raise important questions about who is actually responsible for the actions of the Emirati military. Currently, neither the U.S. government nor the defense industry has spoken out against the government’s crackdown. It would be delusional not to acknowledge the U.S. role in the UAE’s human rights abuses. If and when an atrocity is committed against the migrant workers and democracy activists by the UAE military, Erik Prince and the UAE government won’t be the only ones to blame.

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*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News