The Turkish defense industry is set to break new export records this year with growing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and ammunition sales.
The export momentum, achieved in the sector in recent years, was maintained in 2022 with Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) coordination, defense and aerospace export data revealed.
The foreign sales of the defense and aerospace industry, which was $2.7 billion (TL 50.39 billion) during last year’s 11 months, increased by 35.7% and reached $3.7 billion. The share of defense exports was 68.9%, while that of civil aviation stood at 20.3%.
The 12-month export performance of the defense sector is projected to reach $4.2 billion with an increase of 37.4%. If the sector carries its performance to the last month of the year, the export target of $4 billion will be achieved with a new annual export record.
UAVs occupied the primary position in exports of the Turkish defense and aerospace industry. Having exported $484.6 million worth of UAVs in 11 months of 2021, Türkiye achieved sales of $871.5 million UAVs with an increase of 80% in the same period of 2022.
The biggest export increase was recorded in ammunition and missile systems with 179%. This year, some $443.7 million worth of ammunition and missile systems were exported.
The sector also achieved $428.3 million worth of land vehicle exports with an increase of 63% this year.
Drone magnate Baykar, which managed to become the export leader of the sector last year with the UAVs sold abroad, continued its success in 2022 and occupied first place.
Baykar, developer of the world-renowned Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) and the newer Akıncı state-of-the-art UCAV, surpassed exports of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), which produces aircraft structures for global aviation industry companies.
With the first national UAV export in 2012, Baykar signed contracts with more than 21 countries for Bayraktar TB2, the battle-proven drone used in Syria, Libya, Karabakh and Ukraine.
An export contract was signed with three countries for the Bayraktar Akıncı as well, which was delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) this year.
The company most recently unveiled the National Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle System (MIUS), named Kızılelma (Red Apple), with low detectability and hypersonic speed. Kızılelma is a very critical and strategic project, both for the company and the country, expected to take the Turkish defense industry to new heights.
The growing export of UAVs and UCAVs also contributes to the sale of missile and ammunition systems that are used on such aircraft. Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs, operated by the Turkish army in operations in Syria, or Azerbaijan and Ukraine, use smart ammunition developed by leading Turkish missile developer Roketsan, allowing the company to sell more abroad.
Meanwhile, in the 10-month period of 2022, defense and aviation imports also increased by 7.2% and amounted to $3.6 billion. Some $2.2 billion was from passenger aircraft purchases, and some $938 million were paid for engines supplied from abroad.