Warplanes: Euro-Turkish Gunships

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August 12, 2016: In early July European aircraft manufacturer AirBus and Turkish missile manufacturer Roketsan agreed to jointly develop the electronic and mechanical components needed to arm a C295 military transport with three Roketsan guided weapons; a 70mm Cirit laser guided missile, the larger laser or infrared sensing guided Umtas anti-tank missile and the Teber laser guided bomb kits (similar to the U.S. JDAM, kits that turn an unguided bomb into a laser guided one).

Cirit is basically a 14 kg (31 pound) 70mm rocket with a laser seeker, a 3 kg (6.6 pound) warhead, and a range of eight kilometers when fired from the air. Laser designators on a helicopter, or with troops or on the ground, are pointed at the target and the laser seeker in the front of the 70mm missile homes in on the reflected laser light. Some U.S. gunships sue American made 70mm weapons similar to Cirit. Umtas is a 37.5 kg (83 pound) missile that is very similar to the American Hellfire.

The deal is in part the result of AirBus revealing, in late 2015, some new optional features to its popular C295 transport. One is a kit that enables the aircraft to refuel in the air. The other kit enables the aircraft to land and take off on smaller airfields. These two features are provided largely at the request of customers that use the C295 for special operations missions. Some nations want to use the C295 as a gunship and the Roketsan deal makes that easier to do.

The C295s entered service in 2001 and are manufactured in Spain. C295 is a 23 ton twin engine turboprop aircraft that can carry six tons for up to 2,200 kilometers. Top speed is 570 kilometers an hour and max payload is nine tons or 71 troops. Users note that the C295 is easy to maintain, stands up well to daily operation over long periods and copes with hot and dusty conditions. So far over 220 C295s have been ordered by 20 countries.

This partnership is part of Turkey’s efforts to reduce dependence on foreign sources for weapons and military services. Since the 1990s the government has been supporting defense related firms and encouraging the creation of exportable items (weapons, equipment and services).

 


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