Turkey aims to ramp up defense exports: Defense minister

Turkey aims to ramp up defense exports: Defense minister

ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
Turkey aims to ramp up defense exports: Defense minister

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Turkey aims to significantly increase the volume of its defense exports, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz has said.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on May 13, Yılmaz said Turkey’s defense industry turnover last year reached over $5 billion and exports were worth more than $1.7 billion.

He also underlined the need for a serious study into local production of defense systems, in order to increase in exports.

“Turkey’s dependence on foreign armed forces and their defense production has decreased to less than 50 percent from 85-90 percent in the last 12-13 years. We aim to make use of our own national production,” Yılmaz said.

He gave the example of the Turkish SOM cruise missile, which uses an engine produced by France.

“We want to export the SOM missile, but France says ‘the engine is ours, you cannot export it to a third country,’” Yılmaz said.

“In that case, you cannot sell your own product. Any material that it consists of - software, the engine, a camera, or even the tiniest system, which could make your own product five percent foreign, may prevent you from exporting it. This is why we aim to reach 100 percent national production in the defense industry and increase exports,” he said.

Turkish defense producers aim to boost exports to $25 billion by 2023 from $1.6 billion last year, according to a statement by the Undersecretary for Defense Industries in late March.

The top export items were aircraft, helicopter parts, engines, armored-land vehicles, speed boats, missiles, rockets, launching platforms, light weapons and electronic systems, including transmitters, simulators, sensors and software.

Turkey’s main battle tank, known as ALTAY, was set for mass production starting from this year and will enter into use by the Turkish Armed Forces by 2018, while tests still continue, said Defense Minister Yılmaz.

He stated that Turkish tanks were produced with the technology of the years 2000-2010, but the fire control, armor and other systems were new.

“Our priority is to begin mass production of the tanks and then to deliver them to the Turkish Armed Forces,” Yılmaz said.

He claimed that Turkey using its own tanks would encourage other countries to use them. “The best reference is the Turkish Armed Forces, using products we manufacture,” he said.