With its booming defense industry and comparatively well-trained armed forces, Turkey has emerged in recent years as a donor in military aid and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) a much-sought-after partner in the world.
In 2012, Turkey concluded a military aid agreement with 14 countries, while work is currently under way for an agreement to be signed with 16 other countries, said Ismet Yılmaz, minister of defense, in a debate over the defense budget for fiscal year 2014 at a session of Parliament's Planning and Budgetary Commission.
The minister, who said Turkey attached great importance to developing military ties with countries around the world, stated at the session of the commission on Nov. 11, that Turkey has so far concluded a military training, technical and scientific cooperation agreement with a total of 67 countries. The number of countries with which Turkey has concluded a defense industry cooperation agreement is 55, while a military training cooperation agreement has been signed with a total of 52 countries around the world.
“We have been continuing, since 1992, to supply military aid to many countries in Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Balkans and Africa with which we have ties of historical friendship and brotherhood,” the minister said.
For the year 2014, Turkey's defense budget, accepted at the Planning and Budgetary Commission, is TL 21.815 billion ($10.8 billion), which represents 2.3 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). Although running expenses, such as the salaries of armed forces personnel and maintenance costs, take up almost half of that budget, the remaining portion spent on new weapons systems and the modernization of weapons is enough to make Turkey, as per the annual report of the year 2011 on military expenditure by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the 15th biggest spender on arms in the world.
Last year, the total turnover of the Turkish defense and aviation industry reached $4.75 billion, while the exports figure, including aircraft parts for civilian use but excluding items such as military suits and boots, was $1.26 billion. If items such as suits and boots are included in the total, then the exports figure increases to $1.5 billion. “I can say the exports figure for the year 2013 is on the increase,” the minister said at the session.
As per the strategic plan of the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (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.
Turkey's homemade corvette with stealth technology and the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Anka-Phoenix together with the T-129 attack helicopter Turkey has recently produced with the help of the Anglo-Italian AgustaWestland are some of the leading Turkish attack and defense instruments that have attracted foreign attention.
For the attack helicopter, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) developed the software source codes and carried out their integration, while Aselsan, a Turkish defense giant in electronics and weapons systems, and AgustaWestland are the project's major subcontractors. Turkish engineers also made significant contributions to the avionics technology and heavy armor protection of the helicopters, of which Turkey plans to produce 51 in the first batch.
The T-129, Turkey's first domestically produced attack helicopter, is almost ready for delivery to the TSK. Although the acceptance process is not yet complete, the delivery to the TSK of the first nine helicopters is expected to take place by the end of the year. “After the helicopter starts being used by the TSK, I believe these helicopters will have strong chances for export,” Murad Bayar, head of the SSM, previously told Sunday's Zaman.
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, a local defense firm that produces short-range and medium-range missiles and rockets, is about to begin the serial production of a stand-off missile, SOM, developed by the Defense Industries Research and Development Institute of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK). 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.
Anka, Turkey's medium-altitude, long-endurance class drone, is also set for mass production. The SSM has recently signed an agreement with local producer TAI, Turkey's aviation giant, for 10 drones which will be used by the TSK for reconnaissance, observation and targeting. TAI is also working to produce an armed version of the drone. TAI has also developed a basic trainer (Hurkus) aircraft which carried out its maiden flight in August.
Turkey has set for itself ambitious targets in aviation and space technology. At the beginning of the year, SSM's Bayar announced three major 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 will be the creation, within TAI, of a Space and Satellite Integration Center where all sorts of observation and communications satellites will be produced. The third investment in aviation comes from Aselsan, which is establishing a facility where high-tech radar and electronic warfare technologies will be manufactured.
CihanLast Mod: 24 Kasım 2013, 18:20