A look at Turkey’s most powerful military weapons - analyst

Turkey, which has one of the most powerful armed forces in Europe and Asia, is busy building up its industrial military base by way of locally produced tanks, rockets and missiles while expanding ties with foreign defense contractors, San Francisco-based writer Kyle Mizokamisaid in the National Interest magazine.

The country’s Air Force and Navy are among the strongest in the region, Mizokami wrote, noting that much of the nation’s military equipment is foreign-made but Turkey is looking to expand its military industrial base with more than a dozen submarines and a marine infantry brigade.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has made the development of Turkey's defence industry a long-term goal since he came to power in 2002.

Between 2003 and 2020, the number of Turkish defence and aerospace companies rose from 56 to 1,500, according to a Defense News report. The government was administering $5.5 billion’s worth of programmes in 2003; now the number is at $75 billion.

Meanwhile, the country’s defence budget – which is increasing more than any other budgetary item - totalled 145 billion liras ($19.7 billion) in the 2020 budget, making up about 13 percent of total spending.

The National Interest article listed five of Turkey’s most powerful weapons in its arsenal, beginning with the SOM-J Cruise Missile, produced by Turkish defence contractor Roketsan in partnership with U.S.-based Lockheed Martin.

The missile, designed to be carried externally by several types of warplanes, has a rangeof over 250 kilometres and can operate in low visibility conditions with high precision, according to the government.

Turkey’s first line main battle tank Leopard 2 is another one of the country’s strongest weapons, according to Mizokami, as a German-made weapon featuring 60 tons of advanced composite armour and 1,500 horsepower engines  that allow speeds over 40 miles per hour.

The Turkish Air Force operates one of the largest F-16 fleets outside of the United States, according to the article, with 270 F-16s, dividing them into 158 F-16Cs in the fighter role and 87 in the trainer role.

Moreover, the country operates 14 Type 209 submarines - among the largest undersea fleets in Mediterranean. 

The country is set to replace the oldest of the Type 209/1200 boats with six new Reis-class Type 214 submarines, manufactured in Turkey by contractors HDW/MFI, a German-British business partnership, while upgrading previous submarines with “the installation of an Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, and the ability to travel at speeds of up to six knots on fuel cells,” the article said.

Lastly, the article noted the B61 Nuclear Bombs, which are under strict U.S. military control and safety measures. 

Turkish forces do not have access to the bombs except at times of war, Mizokami wrote, and then only under the guidance and supervision of U.S. personnel.

The basic B61 nuclear gravity bomb weighs approximately 700 pounds. There are three tactical nuclear versions of the bomb, B61-3, B61-4, and B61-10, 

It is not known which model or models of the nuclear gravity bomb that weighs approximately 700 pounds are stored in Turkey.