Turkey’s Own Cruise Missile Makes First Flight

 - September 19, 2011, 4:45 AM
Turkey’s own cruise missile, the SOM, on its way to the target after launch from an F-4E Phantom last month. (Photo: Tubitak-SAGE)

Turkey has designed and test-flown an air-launched cruise missile. The stand-off missile (SOM) was launched from a Turkish Air Force F-4E Phantom on August 9. It flew for more than 100 nm before hitting its target “with high accuracy,” according to Tubitak-SAGE, the state-owned Defence Industries Research and Development Institute. First revealed at the Turkish Air Force 100th anniversary airshow last June, the SOM made its international debut last week when a full-scale model was displayed at the Defense and Security Equipment International (DSEi) event in London.

Powered by a Microturbo TR40 turbojet, the SOM was designed to Turkish Air Force (TAF) specifications, and has a similar configuration to the LFK Taurus and MBDA Scalp/Storm Shadow missiles. But it is smaller, with a length of just under 12 feet and a weight of 1,300 pounds. It will also be carried by the TAF’s F-16s, and certification is scheduled for the end of 2012. Turkey is an international partner for the F-35, and has already discussed integration of the SOM on the Joint Strike Fighter with the Joint Program Office in Washington. A fit check by Lockheed Martin confirmed that the SOM can be carried internally by the F-35, if the tail fins are folded.

Tubitak-SAGE special project manager Onder Okyay told AIN that the “A” version of the SOM that flew last month employs INS/GPS guidance plus terrain referenced navigation (TRN). The “B1” version includes an imaging infrared seeker for enhanced terminal guidance. In the “B2” version that will be available by the end of 2013, a dual-stage penetrator will replace the missile’s initial 500-pound unitary warhead. Although the GPS, INS and radar altimeter have been sourced from abroad, Okyay said that the fuel system and warhead were designed locally. The TAF requires “hundreds” of SOMs, which will be produced by one of Turkey’s defense companies, since Tubitak-SAGE performs only design and prototyping, Okyay explained.

At DSEi, Tubitak-SAGE also publicized the HGK (Hassas Gudum Kiti) GPS/INS guidance kit for Mk84 2,000-pound bombs that it designed. The TAF is now producing these, and intends to add this weapon to its F-35s.

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