The launch of Turkey’s SpaceX Turksat 5B satellite in the second quarter of 2021 is raising concerns by NGO’s in the US.
The Hellenic American Leadership Council and the Armenian National Committee of America signed a joint letter to the United States’ FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation calling for a block on Turkey’s launch.
Addressed to Wayne R. Monteith, Associate Administrator of the AAA and dated April 2, 2021, the letter asks the Federal Aviation Administration to deny approval for the planned launch of Turkey’s dual-use Turksat 5B communications satellite, “on the grounds that the launch approval will materially jeopardize U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.”
The rationale behind call to block Turkey’s satellite launch
“The Turksat 5B satellite – produced by state-owned Turksat – has well-documented military applications, as confirmed by Defence Turkey, which has published articles affirming that the Turkish armed forces’ use of these dual-use communications systems.
“The SSB, in its own product catalog, confirms the military use of the Turksat series. Among these applications is the field of drone warfare and other forms of unmanned remote weaponry.
“Turkey recently deployed Bayraktar UAVs in Azerbaijan’s attack on the indigenous Armenian population of Nagorno Karabakh, and has threatened their use against Greece and Cyprus”, the letter continues.
It contends that the Turksat series dramatically expands the coverage area, Ku-band capacity, and offensive reach of the Turkish military, locking in Ankara’s ability to independently conduct military operations against U.S. and allied positions across nearly half the globe.
“In light of Turkey’s open hostility to U.S. interests and allies, we call upon the FAA to reject the pending application for a Turksat 5B launch and to deny future license requests for any launches that contribute to Turkey’s offensive military capabilities,” it concludes.
The letter has been copied to the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, US House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Bob Menendez, Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Jim Risch, Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Rep. Gregory Meeks, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Michael McCaul, Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
HACL’s most publicized advocacy efforts
The Hellenic American Leadership Council and the Armenian National Committee of America have taken joint advocacy action before. In 2018 they published a full-page ad in the New York Times, urging the US not to sell F-35 stealth fighters to Turkey.
Entitled “Turkey is an Unreliable Ally,” the ad stated that Turkey threatens US troops in Syria, violates Greek airspace thousands of times in a year, illegally occupies Cyprus (an EU member) and uses warships in the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) where American and European companies are active.
In a milder tone, HACL turned to The New York Times in December 2020 with a sponsored editorial signed by powerful Greek Americans John A. Catsimatidis, Andrew Liveris, Dennis Mehiel, Michael Psaros and George P. Stamas.
The full-page article, titled “Turkey and Greece can and must live together,” highlighted “Turkey’s aggressive behavior” and the need for “the United States to support Greece’s commitment to international law and peaceful negotiations, while abstaining from threats of violence, military activity and belligerent rhetoric.”