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Analysis: The growth of Turkey's defence industry

03rd August 2017 - 15:23 by Cengizhan Çatal in Ankara

It is clear that key decision makers within Turkey regard the development of the country’s domestic defence industry as an existential matter.

The share of domestic content is increasing within Turkey while export revenues also continue to rise. But despite all this positive news, there is no obvious solution to the chronic problems that remain across the industry.

The annual turnover of the Turkish defence industry topped $6 billion last year while total annual exports reached $1.68 billion.

According to the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM), more than 500 companies have added nearly 3000 military products to the Turkish defence industry product catalogue to date.

The number of projects overseen by the SSM was 460 in 2016 and the total value of contracted projects amounted to approximately TRY122.44 billion.

According to official sources, the rate of foreign dependency across Turkey’s defence industry has rapidly declined.

Turkey's electronics specialist Aselsan unveiled a new wearable command and control (C2) suite at this year's IDEF exhibition.

The main objective of decision-makers in Ankara is to bring Turkey to the position of not only manufacturing system components but also developing indigenous technology at the same time.

While achieving this objective, it is important to create a competitive supply chain, where a significant proportion of military needs are met by national industry.

Positive growth and increasing export revenues captured by Turkey's critical defence technologies are bringing the sector closer to this goal.

Last year was a period of significant developments in the Turkish defence industry. Deliveries to the security forces of domestically-produced mine-protected vehicles, land-based remote electronic support/EW systems, T-129 ATAK attack helicopters, armoured tactical vehicles and coast guard boats were all made during 2016.

Many other important activities took place, including the launch of the Göktürk-1 satellite, the acceptance of Hürkuş basic training aircraft and the acquisition of international type certificates, and developments in subsystem projects.

As of June 2017, 22 T-129 helicopters out of 59 have been delivered and TAI is optimistic that additional orders will continue from the Turkish government.

At the beginning of 2017, design phase contracts were completed within the scope of the National Combat Aircraft Development (TF-X) project. Within the framework of the agreement signed between Turkey and the UK, the project will proceed under the principle of win-win.

Despite all these positive developments, the Turkish defence industry also has many dominant problems.

At the top of these concerns are the risky conditions of the investment environment in the defence industry, industry modelling and human resources.

The private sector is restricted in its ability to invest in defence due to the size of the investment required to develop defence technology as well as the high risk.

In addition, the relatively long product development cycle, which does not exist in many other sectors, also worries private investors as well as the doubt that any investment in defence technologies will result in a final, exportable product.

For all these reasons, state support is a must for the Turkish defence industry.

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