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Turkey defense industry eyes full national development

Turkey is now meeting 65 percent of its defense needs through its own local and national defense industry, and it is eyeing further development, said the Turkish vice president on Saturday.

“It is essential that we use our own resources in an effective and productive way to make progress in the defense industry field,” Fuat Oktay told a summit held by defense firm Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI).

Turkey has a rich history of arms technology from the Ottoman era to the War of Independence, and it maintains this trend to the present day, he said.

Turkey, due to its geopolitical and geostrategic position, needs to improve its defense technologies, as dependence on foreign countries harmed Ankara in the past, said Oktay, citing malfunctioning drones and the arms embargo following Turkey’s 1974 Cyprus Peace Operation.

Turkey has been working day and night to develop its own arms industry, particularly since the early 2000s, he said.

“In the defense industry, our local production rate increased from some 15 percent to 65. Using the experience we got with the ATAK [T-129] helicopter, for instance, we opened a whole new page with heavy-class attack helicopters,” he said.

“In 2023, we will take our first national aircraft out of the hangar, and in 2026 it will be in the sky. In 2031 it will be in the inventory,” he added.

Turkey currently has more than 600 national projects in the field of defense technologies, he said.

“In 2002, we exported defense and aviation industry products worth $248 million, and by 2018, this figure had risen eightfold to over $2.035 billion,” he said, adding: “Is that enough? Surely not.”

Oktay stressed that Turkey’s moves on national technology, in line with the country’s long-term goals, would continue to improve and develop the defense industry sector in accordance with Ankara’s needs and aims.

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