Turkish arms exports up 20 percent
ANKARA – Anadolu AgencyTurkey’s defense exports for the first 11 months of 2014 increased by 20 percent compared to the same period last year, hitting $1.5 billion, according to figures from the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly released on Dec. 11.
The U.S. was the largest purchaser of Turkish defense hardware at a total of $508 million. Other major markets were Malaysia at $109 million and the United Arab Emirates at around $87 million.
Items exported by Turkey include aircraft, helicopter parts, engines, armored land vehicles, speed boats, missiles, rockets, launching platforms, light weaponry and electronic systems, including transmitters, simulators, sensors and military software.
The defense industry products make up slightly over 1 percent of Turkey's total exports, which were valued at $144 billion for the January-to-November period.
Turkish exports in the defense and aviation industries reached $1.39 billion in 2013.
Local defense producers aim to boost exports to $25 billion by 2023, Turkey’s undersecretary for defense industries said in late November.
İsmail Demir said Turkey aimed to help defense companies break into the top 100 in the world and create at least three global brands in the defense sector.
“Yes, we have a lot of work to do, but the return on investment in the defense sector is very high. In addition, a good value-added product earns a high price on the market. The Turkish Armed Forces are a very important reference which attracts attention to Turkish products in the international market," he said.
Turkish officials have often said that boosting the country’s defense industry exports was one of the government's strategic goals. Ankara spent over $1 billion on defense, research and development in 2013.
Turkey’s defense industry has gained momentum in recent years, especially thanks to an expansion by local producers.
The country’s overall defense spending was 29.4 billion Turkish Liras, or $13.2 billion, this year, according to the Defense Ministry.
Turkey spent about 1.71 percent of its gross domestic product on defense in 2014, far less than was spent in the past. Turkey is currently negotiating a $3.5 billion deal for a long-range air and anti-missile defense system, including local production, with suppliers from China, the U.S. and Europe.