Turkey sets high arms export hopes

Turkey sets high arms export hopes

KOCAELİ/ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
Turkey sets high arms export hopes

Turkey’s first atttack helicopeter, ATAK is seen in this file photo. Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI) is working on the tests of the first six ATAKs which will likely to be delivered to the army by this summer, a defense industry official has said. DHA photo

Turkey’s defense and aerospace industry exports in the first quarter have surged by 11.5 percent compared to the same period last year, reaching $272.2 million, with 39 percent of these exports going to the United States. The chairman of the defense and aerospace industry exporters union has said the year-end target is $1.5 billion.

Despite the overall 10.2 percent fall in exports in March on a yearly basis, Turkish arms manufacturers managed to raise their exports by 11.5 percent, thanks to the 33 percent increase in the first two months of the year, according to data provided by the Turkey Exporters Assembly (TİM).

The U.S. received the highest share of defense industry exports with $105.2 million, while Bahrain was second with $24.7 million and Italy followed them with $17.8 million.

$1.5 billion target

Defense and Aerospace Industry Exporters Union Chairman Latif Aral Aliş said the sector had been on the rise in recent years and exports had been steadily soaring. Nevertheless, they still eye even higher rises.

The sector’s exports, which amounted to $600 million between the years 2008 and 2010, rose to $800 million in 2011 and soared to $1.3 billion in 2012.

The target for 2013 has been set at $1.5 billion, as Turkey seeks ways to spread its success in exports of land vehicles, communication systems, as well as electro optical and light weapons.

“After the completion of necessary infrastructure and financial systems, we plan for at least 5 percent of Turkey’s overall exports to be in defense, aerospace and security products, systems, platforms and services in twelve years,” Aliş said.

The share of these industries among Turkish exports was 0.8 in the first quarter of 2013.

The defense industry’s largest export items include plane and helicopter parts, turbojets, tanks and armored combat vehicles, civilian passenger planes, and rocket launchers, Aliş added.

Eyes on Africa

“There are still more grounds to overcome … The important thing is to present the essential solution in various ways and with a wide range of financial opportunities. We repeat this from time to time: the system is globally settled and even trying to challenge this requires a lot of effort,” he said.

Turkey also aims to expand the variety of its export markets to Middle Asia and the Far East. Africa is expected to join the high-priority markets of the defense and aerospace sectors, Alış also said.

Turkey ranked the 24th largest arms exporter in the world in 2012, according to data recording major arms transactions worldwide collected by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Meanwhile, the same data showed Turkey had become the fourth-largest conventional weapons importer in the world.

Local helicopter plans

DÜZCE - Anatolia News Agency

The tests of the first six of Turkish attack helicopters, the ATAKs, are about to be completed and they will be delivered by this summer, Defense Industry Deputy Undersecretary Faruk Özlü said yesterday.

The ATAK, Turkey’s first attack helicopter, is one of Turkey’s three giant national helicopter projects. One of the other projects is the Turkish Utility Helicopter Program, on which Turkish arms manufacturer Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has been holding talks with the American aircraft producer Sikorsky for the manufacture of around 109 helicopters.

The other program is the Indigenous Helicopter Program, which vows to produce locally designed, 5-ton helicopters for the use of police department and civilian forces.