The first Turkish-made laser-guided missile, called Cirit, has been delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) by the Turkish defense contractor Roketsan thanks to a state-funded project in line with government aims to bolster the local defense industry and reduce dependency on foreign arms markets.
The air-to-surface missile has range of eight kilometers and will be integrated into T-129 attack helicopters that are being jointly produced by Turkey and Italy. Roketsan has supplied the TSK with 100 of these missiles so far and will deliver a total of 2,000 by the time the project is complete.
The AH-1W helicopter was used as a platform during the testing of the missile and the results were satisfactory, according to military sources. The missile is expected to improve the efficiency of airstrikes by the Turkish Air Forces (THK).
The Defense Ministry and Roketsan had signed a protocol worth $28 million to develop the Cirit air-to-surface missile. It was of critical importance that the guided missile be developed locally.
Speaking to Today's Zaman, an official from the Defense Ministry who asked not to be named said this project will be a model for future projects. The fact is that Turkey has lagged behind many countries in the production of missile systems, he argued. “We pay $4 billion for long-range air defense systems, and unfortunately this money goes outside,” he said.
The Cirit missiles are also likely to be integrated into Cobra attack helicopters.