Ankara, Turkey – Turkey will start space trials of its liquid-propellant rocket engines, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday. This development comes as tensions between Greece and Turkey have soared over energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

“I would like to announce the start of the first space trials of domestically developed liquid-propellant rocket engine technology,” Erdogan said at the opening ceremony of Turkey’s leading defense company Roketsan’s production facility and research center in the capital Ankara. “We will also continue our efforts to develop hybrid fuel rocket engines,” he added.

He said Roketsan has developed high-capacity hydrogen fuel cell technology, a clean energy source with applications for the space sector, as well as aviation and transportation. “The GPS receivers needed for precision-guided munitions and weapon systems have also been produced domestically for the first time,” said the president.

“At this center, we are working on technologies of the future, such as miniature weapons, hypersonic systems, and laser and directed-energy weapons using electromagnetic technology.”

President Erdogan stressed that Turkey does not tolerate any lack of coordination in the defense industry. “In particular, we never accept products from abroad that we can make in the country. We have brought our nearly paralyzed defense industry back to life,” he said.

“Inspired by the glorious heritage of our ancestors, we reduced our defense industry’s external dependence from 70% to 30%.”

He pointed out that Turkey is among the top countries in the production of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), armed UAVs, and offensive UAVs. “Our Bayraktar TB2 armed UAV can easily hit targets with its laser-guided 230-millimeter missile system. This new development will especially strengthen our forces out on the front,” said the president.

The Bayraktar TB2 armed UAV was developed and manufactured by Turkish defense company Baykar Technologies.

Turkey’s state-controlled missile maker, Roketsan, has set out to an ambitious program to produce the country’s first surface-to-surface, laser-guided missile.

The 230mm TRGL-230 will largely be used in Turkey’s overseas military operations. The missile is expected to complement Turkey’s unarmed TB2 Akinci drone fleet, with the UAV designating a target and the TRGL-230 launching from the ground to hit the target.

The Bayraktar TB2 is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, tactical UAV. It can perform reconnaissance and intelligence missions, and recently Baykar Makina launched a naval version of the Bayraktar TB2. The Turkish military is currently operating 75 Bayraktar TB2 drones, mainly in its fight against Kurdish militants in Turkey and along its borders with Iraq and Syria. Turkish drones are also widely used in the Libyan civil war and Nagorno -Karabakh war in Azerbaijan.

Work on the TRGL-230 missile will be locally developed without foreign involvement. Turkey does not have in its military inventory a missile in that class [23mm and surface-to-surface]. This will be a ‘cheap-to-maintain/operate’ option for the military, as the planned missile can be launched from any land platform.

Turkey has operated laser-guided missiles launched from manned or unmanned aircraft, but the TRGL-230 will be its first such missile with a surface-launch capability.

Laser designators on the Bayraktar TB2s were developed and built by military electronics specialist Aselsan, Turkey’s largest defense company.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised Roketsan’s efforts to “nationalize critical technology.”

“We [Turkey] are now in the space league in terms of domestic and national projects. I would like to announce the good news that we are set to begin the first space trials of our domestically developed liquid-propellant rocket engine technology,” Erdogan said.

Roketsan plans to produce RDX (research and development explosive) and HMX (high-melting explosive), two critical elements used in conventional warheads, at its explosive chemicals plant. Turkey is highly dependent on warheads in its routine air raids on Kurdish outposts in Iraq and Syria.

Turkey needs 80 tons of chemical explosive raw material per year. This will be supplied from new raw material plant. Turkey wants to end our dependency on foreign suppliers.