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Turkish Defence Industry: A Step Towards a Nation-Oriented Production

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A nation has six major elements of its nation-oriented power that are based on politics, economy, psycho-social issues, military capability, manpower and the geostrategic location.   These bring more flexibility in countries’ regional strategy and add value for superiority in its region.

In today’s world, illustrating the national power chain starts with sustainable political power that reflects to welfare in economy that affects the psychosocial condition of a society. These elements are either directly or indirectly support the well-qualified manpower which is a crucial component of military capabilities.

Turkey’s history and geostrategic importance has led the Turkish governments to develop its military capabilities. Starting from early 1980s, Turkey’s involvement to offset and industrial participation projects together with F-16 project has brought out qualified manpower in research and development. Therefore the government’s focus on military capabilities in 2000s unveiled this huge economy to private sector in contrary to the past practices.  Today, Turkey as a developing country through technological advance strategically merged the national resources of technology assessment and review and is counted as one of the target countries by sellers and the suppliers of offsets.

Especially in the last three decades, government policies in defence industry have also developed the capabilities of staff at armed forces as they have been educated in U.S. and Europe in military technology for years. After 80’s Turkish Armed Forces built some technology and R&D centers were steps to establish the companies of ASELSAN, HAVELSAN, ROKETSAN and TAI (Turkish Aerospace Industry). Furthermore the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) and the Machinery and Chemical Industry Cooperation (MKE) were reorganized.

The results was satisfactory especially in national naval, air and land platforms, national artillery, rockets and missiles, national sensors, software and logistics as Turkey also saved the effective gunnery, C4I, missile and the other systems. Moreover the development made a great contribution to its national budget that returned as an added value to the country.

According to the research of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) conducted in 2013 Turkey’s military expenditure is USD 19.1 billion in 2013 and spends 2.3% of its gross domestic product (GDP). With this expenditure, Turkey has been ranked as 14th with its costs and 9th according to its GDP between the top 20 defence spending countries.

Turkey still increases the defence budget, but the coverage ratio of national defence technology also increases. This ratio was 25% in 2003, 41.6% in 2007 and 54% in 2011.

Today Turkey is very well known by global market with its projects rather than purchasing capabilities. For example; the MILGEM Project (National War Ship) as the pioneer in naval forces, saved almost USD  240 million per vessel. In consideration of the whole project the forecasted total savings will is around USD 1,5 billions.

One of the other national projects is Milli Tank (National Tank) Altay project. The cost of world’s leading main battle tanks varies between USD 2-11 million. Each Altay Tank costs to Turkey USD 5.4 million and Turkey plans to build 1000 main battle tanks in the future. This means that total cost is USD 5.4 billion.

Ratios show that Turkey is also among the defence industry exporting countries. As reported by Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporters’ Association; Turkey export volume in defence industries was  USD 600 million in 2008, USD 1.2 billion  in  2012, USD 1.5 billion in 2013 and the country targets to be counted among top ten defence exporters with its  USD 25 billion export volume in 2023.

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