Turkey, NATO the USA and Israel

Turkey has set a defiant stance to prove its total independence from any obligations to NATO as a whole, and the USA in particular.

Turkey is a very important member of NATO. However, since Islamists have set the tone in Ankara, things have taken a weird turn. First, the Turkish government announced it would not share ballistic missile launch data, derived from a NATO radar on its soil, with Israel. Then, Turkish industries offered different weapon systems such as unmanned air systems to Egypt that is dependant on foreign military funds from the USA.

If anyone thought these steps were merely uncoordinated actions of the Turkish defence industries, two other examples have proved this is not the case.

Just before the Paris air show in June, Turkish aerospace company TAI and the Turkish government announced a plan to develop a fifth-generation fighter.

The announcement revealed that this advanced fighter will take to the air 10 years from now and will mainly replace the large number of Turkish air force F-16s.

Turkey is committed to purchase the F-35 – one reason the announcement of an indigenous fifth-generation programme raised so many eyebrows.

And this is only part of the picture. Here is another one. In recent months it has became obvious that Turkey wants to deploy Chinese long-range anti-missile and air defence systems, in spite of the fact it may be impossible to integrate the system with its existing NATO architecture.

When asked what spurred the decision, a Turkish senior procurement official said the Turkish government came to the conclusion that the Chinese proposal was technologically viable, included a  technology transfer, and was much cheaper than other proposals.

To say these actions by Turkey are strange is an understatement. They prove Turkey is detaching itself from its ties with the USA and NATO.

Before the severance of ties between Israel and Turkey, the Israeli air force trained in Turkish airspace – and that was merely the seen part of the strategic ties.

Turkey is making a huge effort to become a regional superpower and its aerospace industry is playing a major role in this effort.

In the 1980s, the USA forced Israel to scrap its Lavi fighter aircraft programme. In the 1990s, the USA forced Israel to scrap a deal to sell three Phalcon AEW aircraft to China.

Israeli observers say the reaction of Washington to the Turkish position will raise many questions. I’m not sure answers will be supplied in the foreseeable future.

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