Turkey joins the European Sky Shield Initiative, and moves closer to the F-35 and Typhoon.

On February 15, the Turkish Minister of Defense signed a letter of intent for Turkey's membership in the European Sky Shield Initiative, or ESSI, jointly with his Greek counterpart Nikolaos Dendias. This announcement, which surprised many observers, marks a new development on the part of Ankara to normalize its relations with Greece, but also the Europeans and the Americans.

Indeed, to join the ESSI, Turkey will, very probably, have to acquire Patriot anti-aircraft and anti-missile batteries, proposed for several years by Washington, as an alternative to the Russian S-400 system, delivered by Moscow to the Turkey in 2019, and the originator of numerous US sanctions, including Turkey's expulsion from the F-35 program.

Turkey joins the European Sky Shield Initiative jointly with Greece

En signing this letter of intent to join ESSI, jointly with Nikolaos Dendias, Yasar Guler, the Turkish Minister of Defense, sent numerous simultaneous messages to Greece, Germany, and Europeans as a whole.

Firstly, it marks the progress made in bilateral relations between Ankara and Athens, whereas just a year and a half ago, on the sidelines of the Turkish elections, RT Erdogan threatened to launch his ballistic missiles against major Greek cities.

Started two months ago, by the peaceful meeting between K. Mitsotakis, the Greek Prime Minister, and RT Erdogan, the Turkish President, this appeasement was expected by both the Europeans and the Americans, in particular to relax sanctions against the Turkish defense industry.

European Sky Shield Initiative for Typhoon Turkish
Turkey's entry into the ESSI, and the probable acquisition of American Patriot batteries, will probably allow Ankara to coax Berlin into being able to acquire the 40 Eurofighters Typhoon in negotiation.

Later, the Turkish Parliament approved, by a large majority, Sweden's accession to NATO, after the subject had been exploited by President Erdogan, in his standoff with the Europeans and NATO, for the acquisition of new F-16s, but also of Typhoon.

If the authorization to export 40 new F-16Vs and 80 kits, as well as a large number of parts, ammunition and maintenance systems, all for $20 billion, was quickly obtained by Ankara, after the authorization given in Stockholm to join the Atlantic Alliance, the acquisition of around forty Eurofighters Typhoon, in negotiations for several months, was still at a standstill, faced with German hesitations.

The second message, therefore, is intended for Europeans, and more particularly, for Berlin. By joining ESSI, a German initiative aimed at harmonizing and interconnecting the anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems of all participants, and there are already many of them, Yasar Guler certainly ensures the lifting of the German veto concerning the Typhoon.

Berlin would, in fact, have great difficulty justifying such a refusal to export, while accepting Turkey in the most strategic non-nuclear initiative launched in Europe, under German leadership.

Ankara's acquisition of American Patriot batteries increasingly likely

The third message, sent by the signing of this letter of intent, is obviously intended for Washington. Indeed, the ESSI, as organized today, only provides for the interconnection of three types of anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems: the German IRIS-T SLM at short and medium range, the American Patriot at long range and with endo-atmospheric interception, and the Israeli Arrow-3 exo-atmospheric anti-missile system, acquired exclusively by Germany.

HISAR-A Türkiye
Turkey has developed the HIDAR-A and HISAR-U systems, offering similar performance to the German IRIS-T SLM

However, the purchase of IRIS-T SLM by the Turkish armies is very unlikely. Indeed, since 2021, they have been implementing the short-range HISAR-A and medium-range HISAR-U systems, developed by Roketsan and Aselsan, whose performances are comparable to those of the German system.


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