Ankara, Turkey – How dangerous and effective is Turkey’s military on the battlefield? Straddling two continents Turkey has one of the most powerful armed forces in Europe or Asia. Over four hundred thousand strong Turkey’s Armed Forces (TAF) are divided into the land army, air force, and navy. A special forces corps exists and is subordinate directly to the Turkish general staff.
The Turkish military formed a bulwark against the Warsaw pact during the cold war facing Bulgarian, Romanian and Soviet forces that in wartime would drive south through Thrace and seize the Bosporus straight. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Turkish army downsized shrinking from approximately three hundred and seventy thousand to two hundred and sixty thousand while shifting to an entirely mechanized force.
The Turkish air force is one of the strongest in the region consisting of nearly 300 f-16 fighting falcons. Also the Turkish navy is one of the largest in the eastern Mediterranean with more than a dozen submarines and a marine infantry brigade.
Much of the Turkish military’s equipment is foreign made but the country is currently making an effort to build up its military industrial base. Turkey is developing locally produced tanks, rockets, and missiles and is expanding ties with foreign defense contractors.
Turkish companies were sub-contractors for the f-35 joint strike fighter and turkey is now developing its own fighter jet. With that in mind here are seven of the most powerful weapons in the Turkish military: S-400 triumph missiles, Russia has started delivering components of its s-400 missiles to Turkey despite harsh opposition from US. The US fears that Russia could gain secret info about the latest US military plane the f-35 if Turkey uses both the S-400 and the fifth generation jet f-35 at the same time.
The US has imposed sanctions but Turkey has refused to budge the s-400 triumph known by NATO under the code name SA-21 Growler – is an anti-aircraft missile system that boasts a maximum range of 400 kilometers 250 miles and can hit targets at an altitude of up to 27 kilometers.
It, was introduced in 2007 the system, is mobile and includes the control hub and several missile launching elements each of whom comprises of up to 12 launchers.
Bayraktar TB2 Tactical UAV: The Bayraktar TB2 is a tactical armed or UAV system developed and manufactured by Baykar. A highly sophisticated design that provides all solutions that operator may need in one integrated system.
The system consists of Bayraktar TB2 armed or UAV platform ground control station, ground data, terminal remote display, terminal advanced base with generator and trailer modules.
Thanks to Baykar’s technological accumulation and capabilities the entire system is produced indigenously. Bayraktar TB2 is a medium altitude long endurance M-A-L-E tactical unmanned aerial vehicle capable of conducting intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance ISR and armed attack missions an onboard avionics suite with a triple redundant avionics system encompasses units enabling a fully autonomous taxiing take off landing in crews. Bayraktar TB2 has proven its efficacy with over 250 000 of operational flight hours since 2014. It keeps carrying out missions successfully within the Turkish armed forces, Gendarmerie and the Turkish national police.
Currently 110 Bayraktar platforms are at the service of Turkey. Bayraktar TB2 holds the record in the Turkish aviation history for endurance with 27 hours 3 minutes and for altitude with 27 030 feet. Bayraktar TB2 is also the first ever aircraft in its category to be exported abroad.
The integration of the indigenous munition rockets and the capacity to successfully fulfill intelligence persistent aerial surveillance and reconnaissance ISR missions has made the system an indispensable platform in operations. The armed UAV Bayraktar TB2 is a multi-purpose platform as it can perform target acquisition using the on-board laser designator. It is also capable of eliminating the target using its payload consisting of four smart munitions.
Bayraktar TB2 is a system that offers all cutting edge solutions required to carry out surgical precision strikes preventing the widespread damage to close areas. These features ensure civilian security as a first order priority.
SOM J cruise missile as part of Turkey’s contribution to the f-35 program. Turkish defense contractor Roketsan partnered with Lockheed Martin to develop the SOM standoff missile cruise. Missile SOM is Turkey’s first cruise missile designed to attack targets both on land and at sea.
The SOM is a next-generation autonomous, low observable, high precision cruise missile developed by TUBITAK SAGE, Defense Research and Development Institute of Turkey. SOM-J is an air-to-surface missile designed to use against heavily defended, high-value maritime and land targets. The missile’s modular design supports necessary operational flexibility. SOM-J provides enhanced capabilities by building on existing SOM air-to-surface cruise missile technologies already in service with the Turkish Air Force. SOM-J complements other long range weapon systems and provides an affordable solution to maximize stealth and stand-off across the battlespace.
There are several versions under development but the most advanced is probably SOM J. SOM J was designed to be carried internally in the f-35 joint strike fighter’s weapon bays preserving the jet’s stealthy profile against probing enemy radars. The missile is also designed to be carried externally by several types of warplanes especially the f-16 fighter Lockheed Martin describes SOM J as for use against heavily defended high-value anti-surface warfare. A SOM and land targets these include surface-to-air missile SOM sights exposed aircraft strategic assets command and control centers and naval vessels like most cruise missiles. SOM J is turbo jet powered and flies at subsonic speeds it has a range of 155mph miles and a high explosive warhead designed to be effective against hardened targets.
Leopard 2 Tank: Turkey’s first line main battle tank is the the German made Leopard 2 developed during the 1970s the Leopard 2 is a contemporary of the US M1 Abrams the Leopard 2 features an advanced composite matrix armor 120 millimeter smoothbore gun and a 1 500 horsepower diesel engine. The Leopard 2 was designed for the west German army giving it a credible tank force against the forces of the soviet union and the Warsaw pact and at its height the Bundeswehr operated two thousand one hundred leopard 2 tanks. The end of the cold Warsaw unified Germany eviscerate its tank force and Turkey was one of many countries that purchased second-hand Leopard 2s. Turkey operates several hundred Leopard 2A4, but the tanks lack many of the improvements particularly additional armor other Leopard 2 operators such as Germany Singapore and Sweden have added to their tanks.
F-16 Fighting Falcon: The Turkish Air Force (TAF) operates one of the largest f-16 fleets outside of the US. The TAF operates approximately 270 f-16s and divides them into 158 f-16s in the fighter roll and 87 in the trainer roll. Turkey owns f-16 block 30 40 and 50 jets the latest entering service in 2012. Turkey’s fighters are armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles Maverick air-to-ground missiles and GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided bombs. Turkey not only flies the f-16 it is one of only a handful of countries to manufacture the aircraft . The experience gained has led the country to begin development of the country’s first indigenous fighter TFX. A mock-up of the fighter was unveiled in the summer of 2019 at the Paris air show. Turkey had originally anticipated replacing older block 30 f-16s with the f-35A, but Turkey’s removal from the joint strike fighter program means the older jets will likely have to fly on with upgrades until TFX is ready.
Type 209 and 214 Submarines: Turkey operates 14 type 209 submarines one of the largest undersea fleets in Mediterranean. The boats were laid down between 1972 and 2002 with deliveries ending in 2008. The first trench of six type 209 or 1 200 boats displace 1 285 tons submerged are armed with US Mark 37 torpedoes and are capable of 22 not submerged. The last was delivered in 1990 making them quite old, but half were set to receive upgrades in the 2010s a second tranche of 8 type 209 or 1 400 boats entered service between 1994 and 2008.
These are slightly larger at 1 586 tons submerged and are equipped with German and UK made torpedoes the oldest of the 209s are set to be replaced with six new REIS class type 214 submarines. The naval shipyard in Izmir will build these submarines under license from Germany. The type 214 submarines displace 1860 tons and are equipped with eight 533 millimeter torpedo tubes for launching US MK 48 torpedoes and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. An important upgrade over previous submarines is the installation of an air independent propulsion (AIP) system and the ability to travel at speeds of up to six knots on fuel cells. Turkish shipyards began construction of the first ship in 2015.
B-61 Nuclear Bomb: Turkey is not strictly speaking a nuclear weapon state, however the country’s status as a cold war frontline state resulted in Turkey becoming the custodian of large numbers of US tactical nuclear weapons. The US stores an estimated 90 B-61 nuclear bombs at Incirlik air base with 50 allocated to US air force pilots and 40 allocated to Turkish air force pilots. The b-61 nuclear bombs are under strict US military control and safety measures make it nearly impossible for any party other than US forces operating under the national command authority to use them. Turkish forces do not have access to them except in times of war and then only under the guidance and supervision of US personnel the basic B-61 nuclear gravity bomb weighs approximately 700 pounds there are three tactical nuclear versions of the bomb B- 61-3, B- 61-4 , and B-61-10. Though it is unknown which model or models are stored in Turkey, the bombs have variable explosive yields ranging from 0.3 kilotons to 170, 50 and 80 kilotons respectively by comparison the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima Japan had a yield of 16 kilotons.