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BURAK BEKDİL

burak.bekdil@hurriyet.com.tr

BURAK BEKDİL > Flying battle tanks and underwater helicopters

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The remarkable degree of progress Turkey’s national defense industry has achieved in the last decade is a fact. But how it is often portrayed by the ruling party and defense officials is a first-class lie.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was telling a near truth when he said that “Turkey’s transformation can be best seen in its defense industry.” It is true that there is a visible parallel between Turkey’s economic growth and its defense industry’s technological advancement under Mr. Erdoğan’s governance. All the same, unlike what Mr. Erdoğan might prefer to believe (or claim), the Turkish defense industry is still a few light years away from manufacturing flying battle tanks and underwater helicopters.

I ignored it when the prime minister claimed in a recent speech that Turkey was now capable of manufacturing its own “unmanned fighter aircraft.” I understand that Mr. Erdoğan dreams of a mighty army equipped by a mighty and purely Turkish defense industry, but someone should remind him that Turkey has not yet built and will probably never build unmanned fighter aircraft because there is no weapon system called unmanned fighter aircraft – and there will not be, at least in the next few decades.

But Turkey is trying to develop an unmanned aerial vehicle, if that’s the one the prime minister intended to refer to. That vehicle, the Anka, is not designed to fight, it is not in the Turkish military’s inventory, it may not be in service in the next several years, and, naturally, it is not entirely Turkish. After a couple of unfortunate crash landings and one almost trouble-less landing, the Anka’s prototype made another crash in October.

It would be a good idea if Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz investigated the hundred or so million dollars so far spent for the crash-addict prototype. It would be an even better idea if the willing chorus of propaganda buyers questioned how military vehicles can be “100 percent Turkish” when all of these “100 percent Turkish” vehicles sport foreign engines (because the mighty Turkish industry is not yet capable of producing a single engine).

It would be another idea if any curious analyst asked why the bulk of the money allocated for the development of Turkey’s first national tank, the Altay, went to foreign defense companies. How could a battle tank be “100 percent Turkish” when Turkey does not produce tank engines or armor? Will the Turks eventually manufacture a tank with sails and steel instead of armor?

And Technology Minister Nihat Ergün recently heralded that Turkey would very soon manufacture “its own Patriot missiles.” So I ask, will our “own Patriots” be launched by a made-in-Turkey, high-precision catapult system? If the “Turkish Patriots” will be in service very soon, why did Turkish diplomats have to knock on their NATO allies’ doors for the American Patriots? And why, then, is Ankara planning to buy foreign anti-missile and air defense systems from one of the four foreign bidders in a $4 billion contract?

And how, most recently, did Mr. Erdoğan verify that Turkey’s defense industry was now one of the most advanced in the world? By proudly telling an enthusiastically applauding crowd that “there are now two Turkish companies on a global list of top 10 defense companies.”

I am sorry, prime minister, either your speech writers are trying to cheat you or you are trying to cheat everyone. It is true that there is a list of top defense companies on a global scale. It is also true that there are two Turkish companies on that list. But it is not a top 10 list. How do I know? Simple. I compiled the Turkish data for that list. And it’s a top 100 list, not a top 10. But never mind, an additional zero is just a zero. It shouldn’t matter much.

December/14/2012

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READER COMMENTS

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mara mcglothin

12/24/2012 2:43:00 AM

GFB I am a liberatarian for the most part, but would vote for the candidate that is best for the job. I think the least government involved in my life the better. If I want to give my money to help someone, I would rather do it myself and not have the government take it from me a redistribute to a bunch of people who are too lazy to work. Simple. I am well aware of what a socialist is, and the USA is not a socialist country.

GFB GFB

12/23/2012 10:05:09 AM

Mara, I gave up being a Republican as the ultra conservative and tea party types have taken over my party. You sound like a tea party type that considers half the country moochers and socialist. Mara, make sure you can define a socialist before you throw mud at him for being a socialist. He rescued public firms that were bankrupt with public funds, and good for him. USA made money out of those investments and millions were rescued from the unemployment line and USA.

Mohamed Al Hashimi

12/22/2012 2:40:49 PM

Turkey can build strong military industry which produces anti-missiles by increasing little bid the amount of money that they have pay it to the NATO.

Ali Karp

12/21/2012 6:09:58 AM

Some years ago I met with the then president ("rektör") of the Istanbul Technical University at Stanford Univ. What he said probably still holds true for both private and government companies in Turkey. The president said that Turkish companies do not invest in R&D, and prefer to buy technology, and components from abroad. On the long run, the president added, this costs more money for the Turkish companies. It seems like this strategy could also put the security of Turkey in jeopardy. T

mara mcglothin

12/20/2012 3:40:04 PM

TRUTHER JFK was a rich boy that didn't know anything about the working man. His family made their money from running alcohol across the border from Canada during prohibition and that is where the mafia connection comes in. Also, there is a morality question. I would have never voted for JFK because he wasn't a faithful husband. If you cheat your life partner, then the American public would be easy....LOL USOBSERVER Spot on! Clinton had the same illness.

T.C

12/20/2012 12:00:08 PM

U.S Observer: What's so wrong with enjoying the company of beautiful women? I would much rather a womanizer then a war mongering child killer! Most of what's wrong with your country is your government, the other part, people with your kind of mentality. And it's because of that, that your country is in the state it is in now. Your a blind American who follows and believes undoubtedly. Enjoy your soon to be 'Police State', mate. It's already starting. Example: Paragould, Arkansas

US Observer

12/19/2012 6:01:39 PM

@ Truther...JFK? LOL, oh my...OK we will agree to disagree. I know he was Clintons hero as he too had a way with the women :) Not to mention he was in bed with the mafia...

mara mcglothin

12/19/2012 4:12:53 AM

Your wrong AMERICAN AMERICAN Really wrong. YOu must not be a native American to say something like that.

T.C

12/19/2012 3:13:37 AM

I'm not 'anti-U.S'... I'm anti-U.S Regime! I don't know about you guys but I've done and continue to do A LOT of research and so I think i'm pretty clued into what's really going on. You can call me a conspiracy theorist but that just show's your stuck in your own paradigm and unwilling to see things from a different perspective. The U.S needs more people like J.F.K. He was a president you can be proud of, real and for the people! The last great President. None since him can even compare.

mara mcglothin

12/18/2012 10:33:41 PM

TRUTHER We have a socialist in the government that thinks we all need to be equal. We should all have the same money whether we work or not etc. When the USA does have enough of it, it will not be pretty. It is no big conspiracy, but just the fact that Obama thinks he knows better. It is the crazy people that we are no longer allowed to control that is the problem. Imagine having a child that is insane, but because he doesn't want treatment there is nothing you can do about it?
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