The saga of the procurement of a long-range air defence system by Turkey is one which contains many about-turns and dead-ends but in the middle, navigating a reasonably straight path, is the Franco-Italian missile group Eurosam. According to the Turkish Daily Sabah, Ankara and Eurosam are moving forward with their negotiations concerning the €3 to 4M contract for ground-to-air SAMP/T (Sol-Air Moyenne Portée – Terrestre) systems and Aster 30 missiles.
If these negotiations are successful then Turkey plans to make a “crash” procurement to meet current security needs followed by a longer term technology transfer and co-production phase. This vision is shared by Eurosam which is “favourable to a partnership with the Turkish defence industry if this partnership is long-term,” according to a Eurosam official quoted by the Daily Sabah.
In November 2015 Turkey gave in to NATO pressure and abandoned the idea of buying FD-2000 systems made by Chinese company CPMIEC. This decision should de facto put an end to rumours that Ankara will buy Russian S-400 systems. Despite the recent normalisation of Turko-Russian relations which could have motivated this choice, it is more than likely that NATO would adopt an even more severe posture vis-à-vis a Russian system than it did over a potential Chinese one.
Parallel to these negotiations Turkey is still eyeing a locally developed system. Publicly-owned companies Aselsan and Roketsan have been working since 2007 on the development of low and mid-altitude air defence missiles, respectively baptised Hisar-A and Hisar-O. However it would take at least a decade for Ankara to develop and launch production of a long-range missile.
The SAMP/T, 10 of which have been bought by France to replace its ageing Hawks and Crotales, is based on the Thales Arabel Active Electronically Scanned Array radar able to detect up to 100 targets simultaneously. Its missile, the Aster 30 block 1, can reach a target more than 100km away at a speed of 5,500 kph. The SAMP/T can be completely autonomous or work in coordination with other NATO systems thanks to its link 16.