Turkey

Turkey

Turkey

Turkey's military expenditures have dropped by one third, from 3,7% in 2000 to 2,1% in 2015.

Regular Units and Reserves

Regular Units and Reserves

Army vehicle

Army vehicle

With 45% of the active units, Turkey has by far the largest army of the Black Sea region. However, Ankara's army is not exclusively dispatched in Turkish northern flank, and has been on the contrary more and more solicited by the southeastern and the eastern flanks due to the ongoing instability related to the Syrian crisis and operations carried out against the PKK. Paramilitary units represents the second largest corps after the army: the Gendarmerie (Ministry of Interior) is the main unit with 100,000 personnel. Moreover, more than 75% of the Turkish army consists in conscripts (325,000 out of 402,000). The Navy also includes conscripts (34,500 out of 48,600) and only the Air Force units entirely consists in contract personnel. Turkish military has been nevertheless strongly impacted by successive purges of top ranking officers since the end of the 1990s. These purges have been carried out by the Turkish government: the last massive one was achieved in 2012 and led to the dismissal of 40 detained generals. The Turkish Navy is believed to have been particularly strongly impacted by the purges.
Turkey appears to have the largest ground forces of the Black Sea region. Turkish army operates German-type tanks Leopard (722 units) and American M battle tanks (M48 and M60), and has 2,000 more units placed in reserve.
Turkey appears to have the largest ground forces of the Black Sea region. Turkish army operates German-type tanks Leopard (722 units) and American M battle tanks (M48 and M60), and has 2,000 more units placed in reserve.

Air Forces

Air Forces

Turkish air force represent a third of Black Sea countries' air capabilities, and they are divided between East and West tactical units. Turkish pilots have to achieve a minimum of 180 flying hours a year, which is the baseline for NATO members. They operate mainly American fighters (F-5) and ground attack aircrafts (F-4 and F-16). In March 2011 Turkey placed a huge order for the Lockeed Martin F-35 joint strike fighters for a reported cost of $16 billion for 100 units to be bought by 2030. Turkish Aerospace Industries has completed the conceptual design work with the Swedish Saab, nevertheless, it seems unlikely that the first TF-X unit will carry out its maiden flight in 2023, as stated by Turkish official. Greece operates American (F-4 and F-16) and French (Mirage 2000) fighters. Greek air force enjoyed a qualitative advantage on Turkish air force until Ankara boosted its joint training program with the US and Israel in the 1990s. Today, the qualitative balance of power between Greece and Turkey is consequently roughly equivalent. Ankara has decided to beef up its air defense capabilities, and in September 2013, Turkey selected China Precision Machinery Import- Export Corp (CPMIEC) and signed a €2,5 billion deal to buy the HQ-9 medium- to long-range air defense system raising deep concerns in the US and European about NATO compatibilities and security. Yet, since the Chinese company seems to have not fully comply with Ankara's requirements, Turkey is still open to an improved offer in the long-range missile system tender.
F-16C Fighting Falcon

Navy

Navy

However, although Ankara's navy appears as the most effective of the region, it has to split between Black Sea and Mediterranean coastline, and it should be remembered that purges carried out among the top ranking military officers during the past decade has dramatically affected the Turkish Navy. Turkish navy operates 14 classic submarines supplied by Germany (6 Type 209-1200 and 8 Type 209-1400), and part of them are deployed at the Bartin naval base on Turkey's Black Sea coast, a submarine base assigned to the Turkish Northern Sea Area Command. In July 2009, Ankara has ordered 6 more units to the German Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW), and to the British Marine Force International LLP (MFI) for the construction of Class 214 submarines to be commissioned between 2018 and 2023. The deal is estimated at €2,5 billion and the submarines will be built in Gölcük Naval Shipyard where 11 out of the 14 Turkish Type 209 subs have already been built. For the surface combatant units, Turkish Navy operates US and German platforms: 8 ex German MEKO 200 frigates, including 4 modernized units, and 8 ex-US Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates.


Ankara has started to beef up its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities and initiated in 2004 the building of 12 MILGEM (for Milli Gemi, or National Ship) littoral combat corvettes with ASW and high seas patrol capabilities. The first unit, the TCG Heybeliada was built in Turkish Naval Shipyard (Istanbul) and inducted in 2011, whereas the second was commissioned in 2013. The four first units will be built by Turkish Naval Shipyard for a unit cost predicted to be less than €220 million, and the first batch of 6 MILGEM corvettes should therefore costs around €1,4 billion. As for the amphibious capabilities, Turkish Navy features 5 landing ship tanks (LST) but has also a further 49 smaller landing craft tanks (LCT) and landing craft mechanized (LCM). Yet, Ankara has planned to strongly expand its amphibious capabilities through the acquisition of one landing platform dock (LPD), 2 new LST and 8 fast new LCT. Whereas the new LCT have all been built between 2010 and 2013, the building of the LPD and the LST has not started yet. The LPD will fill a gap in Turkish Navy capabilities, and in December 2013, Ankara signed a €3 billion deal with a local shipyard company, Sedef Gemi Insaati A.S., and the Spanish company Navantia, for the project. The first unit is set to be inducted in 2021. In May 2011, Turkish Ministry of Defence and ADIK Furtrans shipyard signed a €370 million deal for the construction of the two new LSTs: the first unit is set to be commissioned in 2017. The LSTs and LPD will enhance Turkey's ability to operate at long range and support Navy's operation in Libya type conflict.
Page of 'Military Balance in the Black Sea Region' project
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