Turkey’s ‘defense spending stagnates’

Turkey’s ‘defense spending stagnates’

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey’s ‘defense spending stagnates’

Turkey’s first T-129 attack helicopter, co-produced by Italy’s AgustaWestland and Turkish arms manufacturer TAI, is one of the most significant products in Turkey’s arms portfolio. DHA photo

While Turkey has geared up its efforts to boost its defense industry exports with new products, its defense spending lingers around the $14 billion mark despite the worldwide spending rise trend, according to the 2013 Performance Program of the Defense Industry Undersecretary (SSM).

The recently published performance program, which includes comments on the industry and the institution, as well as this year’s project proceedings and targets, provides a snapshot of the overall picture of the sector.

According to the report, Turkey’s defense industry spending is stagnating, compared to the world’s top arms importers and exporters, as it is stuck between $13 and $15 billion. Since most of the needs of Turkish Armed Forces have been already fixed by the contracts, this situation is not likely to change in the short-term.

In addition to stalling spending, the state monopoly over the industry is an obstacle in the dynamism of the sector, according to the report. When the nature of the arms industry comes together with the challenges of the private sector in the state-invested fields, the risk of the sector becoming inefficient increases.

The maximization of arms procurement demand with local products is also a fundamental issue facing the sector, which is the reason behind Turkey’s attempts to broaden the scope of locally manufactured systems.

“In order to lower foreign dependency to acceptable levels, a brand sub-industry base should be formed by developing sub-systems designs,” the SSM report says. However, the report also adds that neighboring industries’ sub-industries could be consulted to realize this aim.

Turkey’s weapon imports rose to $1.2 billion last year, up from $900 million the previous year, putting it in fourth place after India, China and the United States, respectively, according to data collected by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Its exports remained largely the same in the overall ranking, moving up only one place to become the 24th largest exporter globally, up from 25th in 2011.

The SSM report states that Turkish manufacturers’ export potential was widely acknowledged to be far below its actual potential. Despite Turkish goods being in high demand in international markets, companies should place more focus on marketing, it adds.

The Turkish defense industry has leaped forward in the design and manufacturing of industrial arms goods in recent years, and the manufacturing of its latest goods proceeds with determination, the report states.

2013 schedule

According to the schedule displayed in the program, Turkey is to establish test fields for ongoing missile development activities in two Turkish cities, Aksaray and Sinop, by 2016.

The talks for constructing another group of national ships by the end of this year will be finalized and the first of these ships will be completed by 2016.In January Turkey had decided to begin talks with Koç Holding’s enterprise RMK Marine for the construction of six ships as part of the Milgem national warships project.

Turkey’s first training plane HÜRKUŞ, whose test flights are going on, will fly for the first time this year and its first attack helicoper ATAKs’ configuration will be completed.