Developing national technologies and local production is essential for the growing Turkish defense industry, said Deputy Defense Minister Celal Sami Tüfekci
Speaking at a gathering between the Machinery and Chemical Industry (MKE), SAHA Istanbul Defense and Aerospace Cluster Association, sector representatives and subcontractors in the capital Ankara, Tüfekci underlined that “Türkiye aims to reach the super league in terms of the defense industry.”
“Our policy in the defense industry, of which MKE is a part, is not to grow the MKE on its own, but let an ecosystem of defense industry grow with it together. Therefore, we aim to increase the indigenousness of our defense industry with new cooperations and the transformation of our product range,” Tüfekci continued.
“We need to improve our production technologies for the development of Türkiye and the increase of our national income,” he added, calling on the sector to use new automatization and production technologies and rely less on manpower.
We have to move forward from the point we are right now, in order not to be affected by any overt and implicit embargo that can be applied against our country, and to have the power to dominate the geography with our capabilities,” MKE General Director Ilhami Keleş emphasized for his part.
“Türkiye – with the high-tech defense industry products it developed in recent years – has developed a structure which produces technology in a cost-effective manner while proving itself on conflict zones,” Keleş said, indicating that Europe for years has neglected its defense industry, which could be seen as a result of the Ukraine-Russia war.
Keleş continued to say that following the war, many EU countries increased their defense spending which opens a significant market for Turkish defense industry products.
Speaking at the same event, SAHA Istanbul head Levent Kerim Uça said: “As a cluster, we continue to contribute to increasing the rate of locality and nationality in the Turkish defense, aviation and space sector, while supporting to move from being a country that consumes high-technology toward becoming a country that develops them itself.”
Uça said that an export department would be opened within SAHA to support member companies’ entering into foreign markets, promote their export targets and enhance their competitive capabilities vis-à-vis the global market.
He also announced that the SAHA Expo Defense, Aviation and Space Industry Fair in 2024 will take place at a bigger location at the Istanbul Fair Centre with a target of over 1,200 participating companies and over 500 official and trade delegations. The Fair will be held for five days this time.
The meeting held at ATO Congresium aims to meet new potential subcontractors for future collaborations as well as to develop the supply chain while incorporating new production and design capabilities. Over 1,200 participants took part in Tuesday’s program made up of nearly 600 companies.
Türkiye’s national determination to become a self-sufficient country in defense led to the acceleration of domestic projects and the strengthening of its defense industry, as foreign dependency has decreased; 80% of Türkiye’s defense materiel is indigenous now.
The rapid localization has helped Türkiye reach a level where it manufactures and develops its own helicopters, warships, unmanned aerial vehicles, warplanes and submarines without relying on imported products.
The capability of some of its vehicles, spearheaded by drones, demonstrated in some regional conflicts including in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Karabakh, as well as Ukraine, triggered unprecedented demand that saw Türkiye’s defense industry exports hit a record $4.4 billion in 2022.
In contrast, the same figure stood at nearly $250 million 20 years ago.
Nearly 2,000 companies operate within the industry today.