12 Ocak 2011 Çarşamba

Turkey to increase arms spending in 2011

Ümit ENGİNSOY        Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

Turkey is scheduled to spend approximately $4.5 billion on arms procurement in 2011, up about 10 percent annually, while most European countries are slashing defense budgets, a senior procurement official said on the weekend.

"This year we have a major payments schedule for ongoing and starting programs," said the official on condition of anonymity. "An overall procurement spending of $4.5 billion is a reasonable figure for the year." Last year, Turkey spent slightly more than $4 billion on procurement.

"We also expect procurement spending to rise gradually in the upcoming years," the official told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

Turkey’s major procurement programs spanning the next 10 years will include the purchase of around 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightening II aircraft worth around $15 billion, the purchase of 30 F-16 Block 50 fighters and the modernization of its fleet of F-16s, the acquisition of six modern U-291-type submarines costing $3 billion, the purchase of utility and attack helicopters worth over a total of $7 billion, the building of long-range air and missile defense systems worth several billion dollars and the development and production of a national battle tank worth several billion dollars.

Some smaller programs include the purchase of frigates, corvettes, armored vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles and trainer aircraft.

In late December the Turkish Parliament endorsed a budget of $11.3 billion for the Defense Ministry, up from last year’s $10.5 billion.

The 2011 budget appropriations for the ministry account for 1.4 percent of Turkey’s gross domestic product and 5.4 percent of the overall state budget, according to Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül.

Other funds
The Gendarmerie was granted $3 billion for 2011, up from $2.7 billion in 2010, while Coast Guard Command was granted a higher figure than last year – $210 million, compared to 2010’s $198 million. Both the Gendarmerie and the Coast Guard are part of the Interior Ministry but are commanded by the military.
Overall, the Turkish security forces will receive additional funds worth around $1.1 billion, bringing total spending to $15.51 billion, or a nearly 8 percent increase compared to last year. These figures exclude contributions from the country’s special Defense Industry Support Fund, which helps finance arms purchases.
The fund, controlled by the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, or SSM, Turkey’s procurement agency, contributed around $1.5 billion in 2010 and procurement officials anticipate a slightly larger amount from the fund this year mainly because of the growing economy. The fund is financed by levies on alcohol, tobacco and gambling.

But Turkey’s procurement budget will be smaller than that of the defense budget. Of the Defense Ministry’s overall budget, $2.5 billion will go to arms acquisitions, according to Gönül. The lion’s share of the ministry’s budget will go to spending on personnel (nearly $6 billion) and operations and maintenance ($2.62 billion).
Furthermore, the Gerdarmerie is expected to spend nearly $500 million on weapons systems this year. As a result, with anticipated levels of funding from the Defense Industry Support Fund, Turkey is expected to spend a little more than $4.5 billion on procurement this year.

The Turkish procurement spending spree comes at a time when most European countries are cutting their defense budgets.

"The threats Turkey faces are multiple and varied compared to most European states," the procurement official said. "Our geopolitical and strategic realities more than justify the spending increase."
Some of the programs based on the acquisition of foreign technology, in addition to weapons systems, aim to provide the local industry with the capabilities Turkey needs to independently possess in the future, he said.


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