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BAE Lost The Turkish Bid, Before The Acquisition Process Started

The Turkish daily, Hürriyet Daily News, published an article by Mr. Özgür Ekşi, reporting that the Turkish Defense Ministry sent a letter informing their British counterparts, last month saying that Turkey was “no longer interested” in BAE Systems’ offer. Thus the hopes of BAE to take part in the next big Turkish naval acquisition project TF-2000 are terminated.

TF-2000 air defence warship, is one of the important naval future naval projects for Turkish Navy and for Turkish naval shipbuilding industry. Turkish Navy uses the Gabya class frigates for area air defence missions as they have the SM-1 anti-air missile. But both the missiles and the ships are getting past their prime ages, though Turkish Navy invests heavily in modernising the Gabya class ships with MK-41 VLS, ESSM missiles, Smart s 3D radar and with modern CIC and combat management software.

According to the long termed defence acquisition plans of Turkish Navy, it is envisaged that around  year 2020,  Turkey will need dedicated air defence warships that will defeat the modern aerial threats and provide cover for friendly ships and conduct support functions such as command and control, reconnaissance, early warning, electronic warfare.

The British defence giant BAE Systems, started in marketing their Type-26/GCS platform as a candidate for the TF-2000 programme. The British Goverment backed up BAE by designated Turkey as a strategic partner. In 2010, Prime Ministers Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and David Cameron signed a new Turkey/United Kingdom Strategic Partnership in Ankara. During his visit to UK, the President Abdullah Gül even visited HMS Dauntless.

So BAE was considered one of the main players in TF-2000 project along with Navantia as shipyard and Lockheed Martin as sensor and combat management system supplier. Till today.

U.S. defense industry giant Lockheed Martin has been left as the only bidder in the $3 billion project for the joint manufacture of six frigates for the Turkish navy after Ankara rejected the remaining contender BAE Systems’ proposal.

The project, however, may still not be awarded to Lockheed Martin if an agreement cannot be reached on the technical aspects of missile integration. Such an eventuality would cause the project to be shelved and then reshaped.

The long-delayed project envisions the TF-2000 frigate as a regional anti-air warfare vessel that would respond to aerial threats and also provide support functions such as command control, communication, reconnaissance and early warning. It would be bigger, heavier and more efficient in terms of war capacity than the vessels the navy has today.

The Defense Ministry last month sent a letter informing their British counterparts that Turkey was “no longer interested” in BAE Systems’ offer, an official familiar with the tender told the Hürriyet Daily News.

BAE is currently working on a new type of frigate, Type 26, which is internationally known as the Global Combat Ship (GCS). “BAE has already started the project. It was late to join. Our needs would have increased the cost. Or we would have had to review our requirements in accordance with the British Navy, but our requirements are different. BAE had also asked for a ‘license fee.’ The partnership offer would have become a model in which Turkey was financing BAE’s project,” the source told the Daily News.

But I think it is also to early for LM to pop-up champagne and to start partying.

Turkey’s defense procurement agency, the Undersecretary of Defense Industries (SSM), has come close to formally selecting Lockheed Martin, but it needs to hear the Turkish Navy’s decision on the choice of missile systems, which is the most critical part of the project. The ship will be designed according to the missile systems, because of their enormous weight.

Selecting the Lockheed SM2 missile system would simplify everything, as it is not heavy. The SM3 system would mean more negotiations on many aspects. It has a wider range, which means that the system would overlap with some of the Air Forces’ air defense duty. Missile integration is another subject to be solved.

Lockheed uses AN/SPY1 radar, while Turkish company Aselsan has started working on a smaller system called Multifunctional Phased Array Radar project (ÇAFRAD). Lockheed Martin has a Ship Integrated War Administration System called Aegis, which includes the AN/SPY1 radar, but Turkish Havelsan has already manufactured a smaller version called Genesis. Turkey wants ÇAFRAD to be inserted into AN/SPY1, Genesis to replace Aegis, and this combination to be integrated with the SM3 system.

If the two sides fail to resolve the missile integration question, then a second option will be considered. Turkey has successfully manufactured a corvette under the so-called Milgem project.

Milgem would be re-designed to manufacture a light frigate for air defense warfare and would be named TF100. “We have to develop something based on Milgem or we will waste all our know-how,” an industry source said.

I must add the following point for clarity: The formal acquisition process for TF-2000 has not started yet. According to the web site of  Undersecretary of Defense Industries ” The feasibility studies for the TF-2000 project are completed. The model of the project will be created after the examination of feasibility studies”.  The official start of the TF-2000 project  is at least a couple of years even may be one decade away, dependimg on the avaliable budget.

Turkey said “Thanks, but no thanks” to BAE becuase of obvious and in my personal view from right reasons. But creating a new ship from scratch with a mixture of divers and sophisticated US and Turkish sensors, management software and weapons is a daunting task for every project manager.

For further reading:
The Battle For The TF-2000 Project Has Started
BAE Systems, Global Combat Ship And Turkey (Part 1)
My Impressions From 4.Naval Systems Seminar
IDEF’11 Update Part 2: Companies
IDEF’11 Update Part 1: Ongoing Naval Projects
UK – Turkey: Naval Industry Inward Mission (Part 2)

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