Western States Concerned by Turkey's Plan to Build Satellite Launcher

Global Security Newswire Staff

A number of NATO members are concerned about the implications of Turkey's plans to erect a satellite-firing station, which might also have uses in the launching of planned longer-range missiles, Defense News reported on Sunday.

At the beginning of the month, the Turkish government's procurement office finalized a business agreement with the domestic missile maker, Rokestan, to develop the Turkish Satellite Launching System. Ankara wants to end its reliance on other nations for sending its satellites into space.

However, the Turkish government is known to be interested in developing a class of missiles with a top flight range of 1,550 miles. Ankara has not said whether the desired missile is intended to be cruise or ballistic in nature. TUBITK-Sage has been selected to develop the missile and has hinted that it plans to conduct a trial of a prototype sometime before mid-2015, though some independent experts view that as an unrealistic timeline.

"Some of Turkey's NATO allies fear that Ankara could in the future use its satellite launcher also as a launching pad for its intended [1,550-range] missiles," an anonymous Western diplomat said in the Turkish capital.

However, a defense attache from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization voiced less concern about the missile implications of the satellite launcher. "I think Turkey, if it intends to develop a long-range missile, would face other difficulties, such as problematic access to necessary equipment, other than a need to have its own launcher."

Presently, the country has the technical ability to build a missile with a top flight distance of just under 500 miles.