ISTANBUL (UPI)–Turkey will spend nearly $4.5 billion on arms procurement in 2011, according to a senior official in the Turkish military involved in armaments purchasing, the Hurriyet Daily News reported Tuesday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the amount represents a 10 percent increase from 2010 figures.
Turkey’s increase in military spending comes as nearly all of its European NATO partners scale back armaments purchases in light of fiscal stringencies.
“This year we have a major payments schedule for ongoing and starting programs. An overall procurement spending of $4.5 billion is a reasonable figure for the year,” the official told Hurriyet. “We also expect procurement spending to rise gradually in the upcoming years. The threats Turkey faces are multiple and varied compared to most European states. Our geopolitical and strategic realities more than justify the spending increase.”
Over the next decade Turkey’s military is scheduled to purchase approximately 100 U.S.-built F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II aircraft for around $15 billion along with 30 F-16 Block 50 fighters as well as cooperating with U.S. defense industries to modernize the Turkish air force’s fleet of 213 F-16s. The Turkish air force is also purchasing utility and attack helicopters worth more $7 billion.
The Turkish military has long been interested in technology transfer, rather than solely purchasing foreign military equipment. In 1987 Turkish Aerospace began manufacturing Lockheed Martin F-16s. Turkey’s ultimate goal is to produce new-generation indigenous military equipment and become increasingly self-sufficient in terms of military technologies and Turkey is now ranked as one of the top 10 strongest militaries in the world.
The Turkish navy is also to acquire six modern U-291-type submarines costing $3 billion, the purchase of utility and attack helicopters worth more than $7 billion.
According to Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul, Turkey’s 2011 budget appropriations for the ministry account for 1.4 percent of Turkey’s gross domestic product and 5.4 percent of the overall state budget.
In December 2010 the Turkish Parliament endorsed a budget of $11.3 billion for the Defense Ministry, up from the 2010 budget of $10.5 billion. According to Gonul, of the Turkish Defense Ministry’s overall budget, $2.5 billion will go to arms acquisitions, with the majority of the ministry’s budget directed toward spending on personnel, nearly $6 billion, while operations and maintenance will absorb an additional $2.62 billion.
Turkey’s military acquisition budget is of more than passing interest in Washington, as Turkey maintains NATO’s second-largest armed forces after the United States and has contributed forces to the International Security Assistance Forces operating in Afghanistan under NATO command.