Turkey approves new defense projects worth $5.9 billion: PM
AA PhotoTurkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the country’s defense industry executive committee on March 9 approved $5.9 billion in new defense projects, $4.5 billion of which will consist of domestic production.
“We today approved $5.9 billion worth of new defense projects. Around $4.5 billion worth of these projects will consist of local production,” he told reporters after the meeting, as quoted by Reuters.
He noted Turkish defense industry exports rose 35 percent in the first two months of the year and that the country had made significant progress in developing weaponized drones, when elaborating on the latest developments in the county’s defense industry.
“The mass production of our locally-developed infantry rifles will start by this year… We also assessed the latest developments regarding the production of the joint warplane… Our air defense system project will continue without any interruption… Plus, we have reached a great point in drone production as we do not need foreign technologies anymore,” he said.
In 2013, Turkey selected, over European and U.S. rivals, a Chinese contender for the construction of its first long-range air and anti-missile defense system. Last November it scrapped that competition, saying two local companies would instead build the air defense system. A couple of months ago, it invited the same bidders to cooperate with the Turkish companies for the development of the system while unofficially courting for the purchase of a different system.
The Anka, a medium-altitude, long-endurance drone developed by Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI), made its debut flight in February, according to officials.
The Anka flew on Feb. 5 in the eastern province of Elazığ and reached an altitude of 19,000 feet while successfully carrying out a four-hour exploration and observation flight, as reported by Defense News.
TAI has also been working on another drone and there are other local companies which have reportedly focused on long-endurance drone production, including Baykar, Kale and Vestel, among others.
‘17 ATAKs to come online this year’
Davutoğlu noted a total of 10 ATAK helicopters came online last year and 17 others would follow them this year.
Turkey’s first locally co-manufactured assault helicopter was delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in June 2014, when three ATAK T-129 attack helicopters, which were co-produced by Italy’s Agusta Westland and TAI, joined the army’s inventory. The Turkish General Staff announced in May 2015 it had begun using the first domestically made Turkish attack helicopters in a counter-terrorism operation for the very first time.
“The nationalization of the production of ATAK engines will also come online this year,” said Davutoğlu.
He also noted they did not expect any delay in the production and delivery of armored vehicles as the fight with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) continued.
Turkey’s counter-terrorism operations in southeastern Turkey have continued since Dec. 15, 2015.
Davutoğlu said the regional jet project was also discussed in the meeting, adding that there was no problem with the project.
Turkey plans to develop two different regional jets in line with the project for around $1.5 billion. Mass production of these jets is planned to start by 2019.
The latest developments in the indigenous Altay main battle tank were also planned to be discussed in the meeting. The tank was developed by Koç Holding’s Otokar and the company submitted its offer to produce 250 tanks in January.
Upon a question by Reuters about the issue, Defense Industry (SSM) Undersecretary İsmail Demir said, “We got the offer for the Altay tank and we have been reviewing it.”