Italian firm Telespazio wins Turkish satellite project

December 20, 2008, Saturday/ 16:11:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
Turkey selected Italian firm Telespazio for the acquisition of a long-delayed Göktürk electro- optical satellite system during a meeting held in Ankara on Thursday.The Undersecretariat of the Defense Industry's (SMM) Executive Committee (EC), the top decision-making organ on arms purchases, held its meeting on Thursday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül and Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ are the other members of the EC. This was the first EC meeting in which Gen. Başbuğ participated as the chief of general staff.

Gönül said after the meeting that contract negotiations with Italian Telespazio will start for the satellite system. The satellite is scheduled to be launched into orbit in 2012, he added.

As part of the Göktürk project, a satellite assembly and a test center that will serve all satellites to be produced in Turkey in the long term will be set up at the facilities of the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) facilities near Ankara, Gönül said.

The Göktürk project, including the center to be established at TAI, will cost about 270 million euros.

EADS Astrium (Britain) and OHB-System (Germany) were the other contenders for the project. Telespazio, which has offered French Alcatel camera systems for the Göktürk project, was reportedly the frontrunner in the project from a technical standpoint.

The SSM issued a request for proposal (RfP) in August 2006 for the acquisition of a 0.8 m-resolution reconnaissance and surveillance satellite system, which also included ground stations and integration. The RfP conditions for the Göktürk project include a five-year operational life with 97 percent availability, land and maritime surveillance capability, a secondary mission objective to meet civilian satellite imagery requirements and that the program should directly involve Turkish engineers and image specialists.

Other notable EC decisions were as follows:

* Companies were selected for the production of 2,720 tactical wheeled vehicles under four variants. A total of 413 command and control vehicles as well as 448 personnel and cargo carriers will be manufactured by local firm Otokar. Local company BMC will manufacture 706 per­son­nel and cargo carrier vehicles weighing 2.5 tons each, 282 cargo carriers weighing 5 tons each and 403 cargo carriers weighing 10 tons each, as well as 468 mine-resistant personnel vehicles. The projected cost of this project is estimated at around 320 million euros.

* The local Adik-Furtrans partnership group and the İstanbul naval shipyard will manufacture eight Landing Craft Tankers (LCT, or fast amphibious vessels) at a cost of about 100 million euros.

* Local firm FNSS will build an amphibious armored combat work machine.

* Local firm Havelsan will manufacture a Cougar helicopter simulator.

* A towed low altitude missile defense system will be developed by Roketsan.

* Modern infantry rifles will be manufactured by the Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKEK).

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