Turkey Embarks Upon Ballistic Missiles: Why and How?


Sıtkı EGELİ*


From the late-1980s, and in response to the rapid spread of ballistic missiles in her neighborhood, Turkey has opted to add a symmetrical ingredient to her traditional policy of asymmetrical response, and began developing and deploying her own ballistic missiles. Additionally, thanks to the rapid technological progress during the last 10-15 years, shorter range ballistic missiles have been rendered attractive weapon systems even for countries like Turkey with access to advanced air power assets. Thanks to multi-phased development program, Turkey has recently deployed ballistic missile with a range of up to 300 km, whereas development work has been underway on longer-range derivatives. Paying tribute to geostrategic, technological, cost, and foreign policy considerations, the optimum range bracket for Turkey’s ballistic missiles appears to be around 800 kilometers. Recent calls for ballistic missiles of much longer ranges (e.g. 2,500 km) do not correspond to Turkey’s geostrategic and security circumstances. Rather than being the products of careful cost-benefit analyses, those calls appear to be the outcomes of unarticulated competitive reasoning and instincts. Combined with controversial and puzzling statements coming from the individuals close to Turkey’s top decision-making circles, they are seen and treated as further signs of Turkey’s latent nuclear weapon aspirations.

Keywords: Ballistic Missiles, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Deterrence (Strategy), Turkish Defense Policy, Missile Defense


* Assist. Prof. Dr., Department of Political Science and International Relations, İzmir University of Economics, İzmir.