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Defense exports may exceed $2 billion target

Discussion in 'Turkish Defence Forum' started by TheCommander, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. TheCommander

    TheCommander FULL MEMBER

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    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan inspects the Anka, Turkey’s unmanned aerial vehicle, at Turkish Aerospace Industries in this 2012 file photo.

    With a booming defense industry in recent years, Turkey’s defense exports may well exceed the target figure of $2 billion, set by the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), for the year 2016.

    “The figure may reach well over $2 billion,” Hüseyin Baysak, general secretary of the Defense and Aerospace Industry Manufacturers Association (SaSaD), has said, noting that the industry’s exports increased by 43 percent last year compared to numbers from 2011.

    What makes industry representatives optimistic about future export potential of the industry is the fact that recently, the industry has also gained the capacity of producing complete weapons systems such as attack helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, laser-guided missiles and warships in addition to land combat vehicles and small-scale combat boats which have been the country’s major items of export so far.

    The T-129 attack helicopter, which was co-produced by the Turkish Aerospace Industry Corporation (TAI) and Italy’s AgustaWestland, is expected to go into serial production in a couple of months, just like the TAI Anka, the Turkish word for phoenix, Turkey’s domestically developed drone. Jordan’s King Abdullah was in Turkey this past week and paid a visit to TAI, examining both products, giving rise to speculations that Jordan may be a customer for Turkey’s newly-developed chopper and drone.

    Savaş Biçer, a retired staff colonel who now works as the international relations coordinator for defense magazine MSI, also believes, though choosing to speak cautiously, the industry may surpass the exports target figure set for the year 2016. “It’s possible the target figure may be exceeded given the achievements of the industry,” he told Sunday’s Zaman.

    What would give a major boost to Turkey’s arms exports, as both experts emphasized, is the eventual purchase of those items recently produced by Turkey’s defense giants by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). “As the products are bought by the TSK, which also means they have been tested on the ground, I expect a major increase in demand from abroad for the new weapons,” Baysak told Sunday’s Zaman.

    In the last 10 years, the yearly revenue of Turkey’s defense and aviation industry has had a four-fold increase, while exports increased five-fold. The future is also promising, given that the industry’s spending on research and development has risen more than ten-fold in the same period.

    The Turkish defense industry has been developing by leaps and bounds in recent years. As per data from SaSad, the total industry turnover, including sale of items produced by the civilian aviation industry, reached $4.4 billion in 2011, while the total exports figure amounted to $1.1 billion in the same year, the defense-only figure, which is stripped of civilian aviation items, stands at $817 million.

    According to data from the Defense and Aerospace Industry Exporters’ Association (SSI), which was established in 2011, reflecting the substantial growth the industry has achieved in the last several years, the industry’s exports figure rose to $1.262 billion in 2012, while the figure was only a little over $600 million in 2007, and $850 million in 2010.

    As per the strategic plan of the SSM for 2012-16, the industry aims to increase yearly revenue to $8 billion and exports to $2 billion by 2016. Presently ranked 16th in terms of turnover, the industry hopes to place in the top 10 in the world by 2023, the centennial of the foundation of the Turkish Republic. Turkey is also working towards the domestic production of fighter jets, with the first test flight expected to take place in 2023.

    Among Turkey’s defense industry’s recent successes is Roketsan’s Cirit, a laser guided air-to-ground missile which has attracted international attention with its cost efficiency and high precision. The company recently signed, with the United Arab Emirates Tawazun company, a nearly $200 million worth contract to supply the UAE Armed Forces with Cirits, which will also be used by the T-129 choppers.

    Roketsan is also about to begin the serial production of a stand off missile, SOM, developed by Tübitak Sage. With a range of more than 100 nautical miles, the turbojet-powered SOM is an air-launched weapon that is designed for use against heavily defended targets. Guidance is by GPS/INS with radar altimeter/ terrain-referencing and an imaging infrared seeker for automatic terminal guidance. Turkey’s unmanned vehicle, Anka, is also on demand. During Prime Minister Erdoğan’s visit, Egyptian authorities reportedly asked to buy ten drones, while Azerbaijan seeks to purchase, as per recent press reports, 60 T-129 choppers.

    Lately, Turkey’s investments in aviation have been on the rise. TAI, Turkey’s aviation giant, has developed a basic trainer (Hürkuş) aircraft, while SSM Undersecretary Murad Bayar just announced three major aviation and space technology projects. The first is the establishment of an organized industrial zone, to be located in an area of more than 5 million square meters in Ankara’s Kazan district, where domestic and foreign companies specializing in aviation and space will cluster together.

    The second major step Turkey is in the area of space and aviation with the creation of the Space and Satellite Integration Center presently being established within TAI. “We will be producing all sorts of observation and communications satellites there,” Bayar said at a defense industry meeting in the past week.

    The third investment in aviation comes from ASELSAN, a defense industry giant that produces electronic defense products. As parts of Turkey’s efforts to domestically supply the needs of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) as completely as possible, the company is establishing a facility where high-tech radar and electronic warfare technologies will be produced.

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    Defense exports may exceed $2 billion target