Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Why Turkey Wants To Co-Develop Fighter Jets, Cruise Missiles With ‘Not So Tech-Savvy’ Pakistan?

Turkey is looking to forge a military partnership with Pakistan for the co-production of combat jets and missiles, which could eventually clear its path to get access to China’s war technology.

Bloomberg quoted sources familiar with the matter as saying that Turkish defense and government officials have held periodic talks with their Pakistani counterparts on this matter.

The high-level discussions, which last took place in January of this year, were around Ankara’s plans of developing and manufacturing hardware with Islamabad.

The sources, however, have not disclosed whether the two nations were close to reaching any agreements or there will be more such meetings in the future.

File:PAK Kamra JF-17 Thunder at PAris Air Show, June 2019 (2).jpg - Wikimedia Commons
JF-17 Thunder fighter jet

Pakistan has built JF-17 Thunder fighter jets in partnership with China and is said to have also adapted Beijing’s designs for its Shaheen Ballistic missile.

Fired for the first time by the Pakistani military in March of 2015, the Shaheen-III or the White Falcon-III is a Pakistani land-based surface-to-surface medium-range ballistic missile.

The use of Chinese designs for ballistic missiles is expected to enhance its capabilities further and are likely to build the military relations between the two countries even further.

With potential deals with Pakistan, NATO-member Turkey feels it will move a step closer to acquiring Chinese military technology, which will in turn increase Ankara’s defensive capabilities.

Historically, the United States and Russia remained pioneers in defense innovation by fielding the most advanced military equipment including fighter jets, missiles, tanks, and ships. However, the situation is fast changing with countries such as China throwing its hat in the ring.

Needless to say, China has made rapid strides in the manufacturing of defense equipment and weapons.

According to defense expert Paul Mcleary, the Chinese military has surpassed the US in areas of shipbuilding as well as the development of missile defense, ballistic, and cruise missiles.

The Chinese modernization effort in the defense sector has continued to remain a work in progress, which has been one of the consistent themes of the annual China Military Power report, according to Mcleary.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is considered an “increasingly modern and flexible force” that relies on its civilian industrial might and its robust technology sector to bring improvements.

Chinese fighter jets like the J-20s can give a tough fight to their American counterparts when it comes to their capabilities.

Now, Turkey feels it can also move forward using Chinese technology, with Pakistan considered a major stepping stone for any such move.

Ankara looks at nuclear-armed Pakistan as a strategic ally and a potential partner in building its TF-X fighter jet and Siper long-range missile-defense project.

However, it is still not determined whether talks have gotten to the point of asking for China’s permissions on sharing Chinese defense technology.

On Tuesday (February 2), the Chinese Foreign Ministry had released a statement regarding Beijing’s military export policies.

“(The Chinese government) has always adopted a prudent and responsible attitude in the export of military products and strictly implements China’s military export management laws and regulations as well as its international duties,” said the statement issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Regardless of what eventually happens between China and Turkey, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly said that his country’s collaborations with Pakistan on defense projects have “very serious potential.”

Tayyip-Erdogan

In December, Pakistani Defense Secretary Mian Muhammad Hilal Hussain held talks with top Turkish officials including Defense Minister Hulusi Akar over possible defense cooperation.

The Turkish Defense Minister had also met his Pakistani counterpart, and the Pakistani military chief and air force chief, while also accompanying President Erdogan on a visit to Islamabad earlier.

In the past, the two nations were engaged in the co-production of warships that Turkey sold to Pakistan.

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