Turkey’s defense fair SAHA Expo starts virtually
Organized by Istanbul Defence and Aerospace Cluster Association, SAHA, the world’s first-ever 3D virtual defense fair, began on Nov. 9 with an online opening ceremony in Istanbul.
The five-month event, held through the application XperEXPO developed by Turkish technology firm BITES - an affiliate of the Turkish defense giant Aselsan - will end on April 9, 2021.
The event exhibits several defense products, including Akıncı and TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles, and Atak helicopter.
The first week of the five-month event - on Nov. 9, 2020-April 9, 2021 - will host virtual conferences with 300 participants.
Ilhami Keles, the secretary-general of SAHA Istanbul, said companies exhibit their products through 3D stands in the expo.
Companies can also make virtual meetings with customers and exchange virtual invitations, catalogs, or business cards.
The expo hosts 288 domestic and foreign companies and 355 3D-model products.
Turkish Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank expressed during the opening ceremony that countries should develop unique technologies to gain their independence.
In 2005, there were no Turkish firms among the top 100 defense companies with the largest amount of incomes globally, there are currently seven firms, the minister noted.
The number of staff employed in the defense sector reached 73,000 this year, up from 30,000 in 2005, he said, adding that the export figures exceeded $3 billion annually.
The ministry support was also effective in this success, he highlighted.
The indigenousness rate in the Turkish defense industry, which was around 20% 15 years ago, now reached 70%, Varank stressed, and added: "A 100% indigenousness rate in critical components is essential for the full independence of the industry."
Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said SAHA Expo was the 6th virtual event with the support of the Trade ministry, and the first five events hosted over 50,000 visitors.
Virtual events will show Turkey's products and technological capacity to foreigners, she noted.
The price per kilogram in the defense sector's exports reached $61.90 in 2019, up from $45.50 in 2018, Pekcan stressed.
Haluk Bayraktar, the chairman of SAHA Istanbul, said the event is the first virtual 3D defense expo globally.
He also said the defense sector's efforts are critical for the country's army.
Ismail Demir, the head of Turkey's Defense Industries Presidency, stressed that the event will virtually exhibit the country's defense industry.
The event was initially planned to be organized physically in Istanbul on Nov. 9-13, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event is held virtually.
SAHA Istanbul Defence and Aerospace Cluster Association plans to organize the exhibition physically at Istanbul Expo Center on Nov. 10-13 next year.