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Turkey Looks Inward to Develop Information Technologies

April 15, 2010
by Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Connections
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Turkey’s military, having embraced network-enabled capability as its basis, is looking to its own industry to provide the necessary technologies to lead the country’s forces deep into this decade. As with other modern militaries, Turkey’s armed forces are modernizing amid global economic difficulties and increasingly diverse security commitments.

The longtime NATO member is tasked with building a force that interoperates with alliance members as well as with other potential coalition partners. While simply purchasing other countries’ gear would help ensure interoperability, that equipment might not suit Turkey’s unique military requirements. So, the nation is turning to its own domestic industry to provide it with necessary solutions.

Information technologies are the country’s top military priority, according to Murad Bayar, Turkey’s undersecretary for defense industries. He notes that the concept of network-enabled capability is being studied in Turkey across the breadth of professional activities, including academia, industry, government and defense research. For the military, information technologies are considered critical to many other technologies that support military operations.

Among information technologies, software is one vital area. Bayar states that Turkey is focusing on developing software for information management, battle management, communications and situational awareness. “In many of our projects, when we consider local companies’ capabilities, software technologies has top priority,” he says.

Bayar continues that Turkey’s defense industry can develop a broad range of software capabilities. Several companies have CMMI level 3 and level 5 certificates. These firms are part of a domestic defense industrial base on which Turkey relies for its military software. Domestic firms also provide many electronic components, particularly for digital radio systems and message-based tactical datalinks. However, Bayar emphasizes that many high-technology systems, such as radars, satellite systems and digital radios, are being procured with both domestic and foreign-built elements.

Turkey’s next modernization efforts are likely to focus on both strategic and tactical levels. At the strategic level, Turkey is looking to modernize its message transfer systems. This modernization would encompass physical upgrades as well as message level interoperability improvements.

At the tactical level, most modernization efforts will focus on integrating platforms. Many of these efforts involve tactical datalink technologies. Bayar offers that Turkey plans to initiate a national tactical datalink program to provide full interoperability among its platforms.

Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) is the country’s main procurement agency for military requirements. Currently, it is running several research and development projects for important information technologies with the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK), which is the lead agency for managing, funding and conducting research in Turkey. SSM also is responsible for the development of Turkey’s national defense industries, Bayar points out. SSM publishes a strategic plan and sector strategy to address issues within the country’s defense industry.

 

Turkey is hosting TechNet Europe 2010 at the TurkishMilitaryMuseum in Istanbul May 27. The symposium and exposition, titled “The Challenges of Security in a Network-Enabled Environment,” features speakers from NATO and several of its member nations. More information is available at www.afcea.org/europe/events/tni/TNE10Foreword.asp.