Turkish defense exports to Mideast unaffected by revolts
ANKARA- Hürriyet Daily News | 3/6/2011 12:00:00 AM | ÜMİT ENGİNSOY
As popular uprisings sweep through the Middle East and North Africa, Turkey’s arms trade with the region will continue to march on steadily, according to Ankara’s export planners. Turkey’s total arms exports amounted to $832 million in 2009, according to the country’s procurement office. The agency expects up to $1.5 billion in defense exports this year
Just when Turkey’s local industry thought it caught a niche in several Middle Eastern markets, the region began to shake with popular revolts, but Ankara's export planners say "it is business as usual."
A senior procurement official dealing with exports of Turkish-made systems mostly to Middle Eastern and eastern markets said that previous contracts would not be affected by the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
"Egypt is a market and partner with previously signed contracts. Tunisia and Libya were prospective markets. They still are for the longer term. As the dust settles we will roll up our sleeves to help the (Turkish) industry for new contracts," he told Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review Thursday.
Analysts said other countries that potentially can be hit by unrest in the future and also represent potential markets for the Turkish arms makers were Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and some Gulf states. "Previous deals are in effect, will remain in effect, and future contracts will come up as soon as stability has been restored," the procurement official said.
Turkey’s total arms exports amounted to $832 million in 2009, according to the country’s procurement office, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, or SSM. The agency expects up to $1.5 billion in defense exports this year. Export figures for 2010 are not available yet.
Another defense group, the Turkish Defense Manufacturers’ Association or SaSaD, calculated the 2009 exports as $669 million. The difference between the SSM’s and SaSaD’s figures stems from definitions of what accounts for exports. The SSM considers civilian aviation sales from defense offset deals as part of defense industry exports. SaSaD counts strict arms exports only.
[HH] Deals with specific countries
The Middle East and Southeast Asia are the largest markets for the Turkish industry. The largest single contract so far signed between Turkey and a Middle Eastern country is a $324 million deal between Saudi Arabia and FNSS Savunma Sistemleri (Defense Systems), an Ankara-based armored vehicles manufacturer. This contract was signed last year for the upgrade of 312 M113 tracked armored vehicles originally manufactured by the United States.
FNSS last month signed Turkey’s largest ever, single export contract with Malaysia, a $600 million deal for co-manufacturing of 6x6 and 8x8 Pars (Panther) armored vehicles. Earlier, the company had won a $200 million deal from Saudi Arabia for modernization of more M113 vehicles.
Meanwhile, Turkey will buy six older versions of the C-130 military transport aircraft from Saudi Arabia under an agreement reached last year. On Feb. 21, at the height of Arab revolts, FNSS signed another major deal with the United Arab Emirates’ defense company Al-Jaber for joint production of armored vehicles, similar to the Pars vehicle FNSS has designed for joint production with its Malaysian partner, Deftech. Under the deal, FNSS and Al-Jaber are scheduled to jointly manufacture vehicles for the UAE army, although the size of the program is not clear. FNSS earlier had sold more than 100 tracked armored infantry fighting vehicles to the UAE, which also has bought rockets made by the Turkish missile maker Roketsan.
The Turkish industry also is active in the Middle East in terms of naval platforms. The Istanbul-based Yonca Onuk shipyard last year signed a contract worth over $100 million for the sale of its Multi-Role Tactical Platform-20 (MRTP-20) to Egypt. Three of these fast patrol boats are being built in Istanbul and the remaining three will be built at an Egyptian shipyard at Alexandria. The production will take two-and-a-half years.
Under a 2009 contract worth 125 million euros ($170 million) with the United Arab Emirates, Yonca Onuk is leading production of 34 MRTP-16 high-speed intervention crafts for the Emirates Navy. Five of the platforms have been delivered. Seven of the remaining platforms will be made in Istanbul and 24 others will be built in Abu Dhabi.
The company also is negotiating potential contracts with the UAE, Syria and Qatar, for the sale of its MRTP-22 fast patrol boats, the procurement official said. The Turkish vehicle maker Otokar has sold hundreds of Cobra 4x4 wheeled tactical vehicles to Algeria. The Turkish Aerospace Industries, or TAI, Turkey's main aerospace company recently has upgraded dozens of Jordanian F-16 fighter aircraft, made by Lockheed Martin. TAI in the 1990s assembled 46 F-16s for the Egyptian Air Force.
Among Middle Eastern and North African countries, autocratic leaders in Tunisia and Egypt have fallen from power and violent fighting between the Libyan government forces and opposition supporters are continuing, with signs of unrest also coming from Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan and Iran.
Lucrative defense industry business between former allies Israel and Turkey greatly have diminished over the past two years.