Türkiye’s two-decade-long project to become a weapons-manufacturing powerhouse is starting to pay off and the country has become a global player in weapons manufacturing, U.S. daily Wall Street Journal has reported.
Highlighting that the government is pouring $60 billion a year, up from $5 billion in 2002, into an effort to reduce dependence on world military suppliers, WSJ said: “The private defense industry [in the country] grew to $11 billion in 2020 from $1 billion in 2002.”
“Türkiye now makes about 70 percent of what the Turkish armed forces need, up from 30 percent in the early 2000s,” the daily stated.
Speaking to WSJ, İsmail Demir, the president of the country’s Defense Industry Agency, said: “It’s clear that conventional things have some limits, and we must look for something new and commercial. We thought that it should not be limited to aerial vehicles. It should be land, sea and undersea.”
Türkiye ranked 12th in arms exports between 2017 to 2021, behind Israel and Switzerland and ahead of Ukraine and Sweden. In 2001, it ranked 36th.
“Türkiye’s defense sector has outsize influence because of the impact of its drones in recent conflicts,” the daily wrote on July 22. It reminded that the country’s Bayraktar TB-2 drones have “helped push back Moscow’s forces, its proxies and Russian-made technology in at least four different conflicts, Ukraine, Syria, Libya and in Azerbaijan’s conflict with Armenia.”
Mustafa Orakçı, sales director for Elektroland Defense, an Ankara-based company that makes unmanned land vehicles, told WSJ that “what Bayraktar did was a great advertisement for them.”
Orakçı said Elektroland is preparing to sign a contract to deliver 40 of its vehicles to Calidus, an Emirati military-tech company.
“Arms deals are now one of [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s foreign-policy tools of choice, as he uses sales of drones and other weapons to build relationships and further his aspirations of global Turkish influence,” the daily reported.