Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that Turkey would eliminate dependency on external suppliers for its defense industry.
In a speech at the inauguration ceremony of a “Radar and Electronic Warfare Technology Center” launched by Turkey’s leading defense system producer, Aselsan, in Ankara, Erdogan said: “When I became first time a prime minister, the country’s dependence on foreign sources was 80 percent in the defense industry.”
“We plan to eliminate external dependency on defense equipment supply with ongoing projects and investments until 2023. We will not allow the use of any ready defense equipment without our being involved from design to production,” Erdogan said.
Aselsan’s $157 million new facility in Ankara’s Golbasi districts will employ more than 1,200 people, including 776 engineers who will work on the development of radar and electronic warfare systems for land, air, sea, aerospace and unmanned platforms.
In his opening remarks, Aselsan’s board chairman, Hasan Canpolat said that the company ranked 4th among the fastest growing companies, with 3,000 engineers in the defense industry worldwide. According to Canpolat, the company employed more than 30,000 engineers and collaborates with more than 24 leading universities in the region.
Turkish defense producers aim at boosting exports to $25 billion by 2023 from $1.6 billion last year, according to Turkey’s Undersecretary for Defense Industries.
The top export items were aircraft, helicopter parts, engines, armored-land vehicles, speed boats, missiles, rockets, launching platforms, light weapons and electronic systems, including transmitters, simulators, sensors and software.
Ankara spent over $1 billion on defense, research and development in 2014.
Turkey’s defense spending was 29.4 billion Turkish liras, or $13.2 billion, this year, according to Turkish Defense Ministry.
Turkey is currently negotiating a $3.5 billion deal for a long-range air and anti-missile defense system, including local production, with suppliers from China and Europe. The country plans to spend around $70 billion on military equipment until 2023, when the country will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of modern republic.