New defense procurement chief keen to boost aerospace industry

New defense procurement chief keen to boost aerospace industry

Burak Bekdil
New defense procurement chief keen to boost aerospace industry

İsmail Demir, Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), speaks at a ceremony for coast security planes procurement and integration project,, Meltem-2, in this file photo. The newcomer bureaucrat, who used to manage Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), looks like he will be generating new deals with European and US aviation and defense giants, his senior aides have said. AA Photo

Barely a month into the job of managing Turkey’s multi-billion-dollar defense programs, Professor İsmail Demir is quickly warming up to the task of overseeing the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) by taking one briefing after another, his senior aides have said.

“He is an internationally-acknowledged aviation expert which makes his grip on complex dossiers quicker. We have finished briefing him on the most important programs,” one senior SSM official said. 

Demir, a professor of aviation and former general director of THY Teknik, the Turkish Airlines’ repair and maintenance subsidiary, replaced Murad Bayar, SSM’s chief for the last 10 years, in early May. Bayar was appointed as chief adviser of procurement policy to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The SSM official said he understood from Demir’s nearly one-month-long policy directives that he would be striving to generate new business/technological opportunities for Turkey’s aviation industry while forging partnerships with foreign partners in the defense industry.

“He has given the impression that he would be seeking efforts to boost civilian aviation and satellite industries through defense deals with foreign partners,” the official said. 

A senior executive from TAI, Turkey’s aerospace powerhouse, agreed with the SSM official: “We are certain that Professor Demir will be safeguarding the aerospace industry with a view to both civilian and military business aspects.”

An SSM official dealing with international contracts said Demir would seek to maintain a balance between U.S. and European manufacturers when deciding on Turkey’s deals with foreign players. 

“He chose to personally attend the Berlin Air Show last week, which indicates his intentions to seek European deals. But he will also attend the June 1 gathering of the American-Turkish Council in Washington, a sign of his intentions not to ignore the U.S. industry,” the official said. 

At the ILA Berlin Air Show, military electronics specialist Aselsan said it signed separate framework agreements with two of Europe’s biggest aviation concerns, Airbus and Rolls Royce. 

The agreement concerns cooperation on civil and military avionic systems, satellite communication systems, electro-optic and laser systems, and secure radio communications. Aselsan said the deal with Rolls Royce would aim at exploring opportunities in engine control systems.

Meanwhile, also at the Berlin Air Show, Turkish military software company Havelsan signed a memorandum of understanding for “cooperation on a wide range of areas” with Italian-British helicopter maker AgustaWestland.