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Turkey plans first reconnaissance satellite

18 June 2007: Turkey is planning to award its reconnaissance military satellite GOKTURK contract, estimated at about $250 million. The procurement official said the top panel that oversees procurement decisions would likely convene after June 20 to finalize an international competition to build and launch the satellite.

“There have been major delays in fulfilling our initial ambitions,” a senior procurement official familiar with space programs said. “But the launching of our first satellite will mark the beginning of a new era. There is an understanding among both government and military planners to highlight space efforts in shaping procurement policy.”

Under the program, an electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with a resolution of 80 centimeters will be procured from a foreign supplier, with limited technological participation from Turkish companies. Contenders are EADS Astrium, Italy’s Telespazio, Israel Aerospace Industries and Germany’s OHB-system. An industry source said politics will complicate the decision.

“EADS Astrium and Telespazio both are partly French-owned, and the Turkish Armed Forces have been boycotting France over a political dispute between Ankara and Paris,” the industry source said. “Going for the Israeli bidder, too, would be difficult politically at a time of general elections. Meanwhile, the only politics-free option, the German bidder, does not have proven technology in the kind of satellite Turkey wants.”

The program involves the development of an electro-optical reconnaissance and surveillance satellite system for the Air Force’s space-based image intelligence architecture. Here, the architecture comprises passive and active remote sensing satellite systems such as electro-optical and synthetic aperture radar systems and ground systems.