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Turkey to relaunch military satellite program

   
InternationalThe Turkish military and the respective officials have set in motion a program that will give the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) remote-sensing capabilities through electro-optical military satellite.

A reshuffle in the top ranks is planned in late August, 2005, as Air Force Commander Gen. Ibrahim Firtina retires, with War Academy Air Force Gen. Faruk Comert being touted as the most likely replacement. The program which was delayed for four-years will be revived under the new commander-in-chief, and will become a main focus of the military intelligence.

The program was under a preliminary contract with France's Alcatel, but was stalled back in January 2001 by Turkey, in response to France's parliamentary move to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide.

Now with only a month and a half to go before the program is to be revived, there seem to be plenty of local and international manufacturers who have expressed their intention to bid for the contract.

Potential local bidders are Tusas Aerospace Inc.; Aselsan, Turkey's biggest defense firm; aviation concern Delta Havacilik; Inta Space; and government scientific research house Tubitak Bilten. German communications giant Siemens' local corporate entity Siemens Sanayi ve Ticaret AS is also a potential bidder.

The Request for Information issued by the Turkish government describes the program in three components:

The Satellite: A very high-resolution, electro-optical reconnaissance and surveillance imaging satellite;

The System: The satellite and ground systems;

The Project: The system, launch and early orbit operational services, integrated logistics support, technological transfer, localization, co-development and co-usage of the system and other necessary services.

The total cost of the program is estimated at around $250 million.

Defense analysts say that it will make a considerable difference to Turkey's military power in fighting off the current threats of terrorism.