Dear Mr. Undersecretary, firstly
we would like to thank you for
this interview. You have left nearly
a year behind in your duty. How
do you evaluate Turkish Defence
Industry’s development during this
period of time? What will Turkey’s
vision and strategy be for this new
period starting with you?
Since my appointment, I have
allocated my time in order to become
more familiar with the industry and to
understand the way it functions while
evaluating some aspects such as the
number of projects, direct procurement
and development procedures. During
all these efforts, I need to ask some
questions and therefore my days
are quite busy. In each issue that I
question, the answer takes longer
than I expect and then I cannot spare
anytime for the remaining questions.
Presently, I am trying to make the
most of this period. We are gradually
proceeding. It is possible to have an
idea by visiting the defence industry
companies, conducting detailed
exchange of information and making
examinations. I might say that so
far my accumulation of information
is composed of the facts I learned
through in-house presentations;
negotiations conducted in various
environments and issues that came up
during the congrats visits in addition to
my previous know-how. I cannot claim
that I came across a far more different
structure than I knew and expected.
I believed in the need for conducting
studies in line with the priorities and
areas of expertise and I still believe so.
One may set an ideal and objective
in producing excellence for all the
products in many product ranges, but
the resources are limited, we need
to identify our priorities, arrange our
needs in an order and establish a
structure accordingly.
Our defence industry primarily
needs a very strong infrastructure.
Without doubt, during the development
of products and launch of national
products a robust infrastructure is
required both for export and for their
utilization in critical processes. The
development level of the defence
industry’s infrastructure is reflected
on the product as well. If one fails
to advance the infrastructure of the
industry and to enable prominent
industrialists in trading area, then
claims made for becoming a pioneer in
defence industry will not be possible.
One cannot assert that “we may not be
very good in other industry branches
but are very skilled in defence
industry”. That would be a wrong
perception. If sustainability is aimed,
we will have to develop competence
in all branches of the industry. If there
is a gap in one’s infrastructure, no
matter how full your superstructure

may seem, issues may arise in the
long term regarding producing and
commercializing long-lasting products.
Which areas and programs will
be gaining priority in line with these
strategies in the upcoming period?
The best answer will be to say all
areas however; there are two different
scenarios here. First scenario is
what I have been constantly hearing
since I took the office and is based
on a perception that goes like “the
Undersecretariat is a supplying
authority, certain people would claim
their needs and we either develop
products or get them developed or
produced”. This perception, surely,
demonstrates that the Undersecretariat
for Defence Industry’s (SSM) position
and authority in determining the
priorities and planning the future is
very limited. I believe this shouldn’t be
like this. In my opinion, this structure
and this decision-making mechanism
should be altered. Needless to say,
the defence industry in Turkey and its
future plans depend on the end-user
that is the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF)
and their demands and requirements
shall be the indispensable components
of the scenario. Still, Turkey, as a
country, is an overall structure that
consists of political, financial and
military structures and the policies
and strategies of our country is formed
through a common sense arising from
this structure. We should not ignore
this fact. I believe that, beyond a
scenario that is merely triggered by the
TAF, we should also be able to trigger
certain issues and bring new initiatives
within the framework of our strategic
vision. In this sense, when you focus
on a high-technology product that is
required especially in modern war
industry and employ most of your
existing resources to this without
having experience in that area, then
this move needs to be questioned. At
this stage, maybe a less advanced
product, a more feasible product would
be bringing you more achievement.
You need to proceed with products
that would carry your industry forward.
Therefore, attaching priority to more
achievable products may be more
appropriate. I do not wish to name a
certain product or a branch of industry,
but we really need to manage the
preparation process of our industry
well and exist in the market with good
and tradable products as soon as the
industry is ready.
Turkey has an export goal for
year 2023 that needs to be reached.
What is your approach to Turkey’s
advancement in light of this goal
with robust, critical products that
have added value? Which path do
you think Turkey should follow to
this end?
As I mentioned before, reaching
to such goals without tending towards
high added value areas might be
tough. For example, if you made an
export of 25 billion USD and 23 billion
USD of which came from import, then
your actual volume of export would
be merely 2 billion USD. Then, there
would not be any point in reaching
your goal through such operations.
You must avoid such a deception.
Questioning the percentage of the
imported inputs while examining our
export figures will be a good call now.
Additionally, if you sell a product,
the sub-components of that product
may consist of imported products, so
you should be very careful for such
composition. In this respect, when
trying to reach the export goals, the
added value and total net value should
be taken into consideration during
conducting export activities.
These parameters are important
and we have very ambitious targets,
surely while setting ambitious targets,
the efficiency of the infrastructural
studies conducted in line with
these targets should be considered
simultaneously. While conducting
infrastructural studies, the steps to
be taken within the scope of this
coordination should be immediately
taken. If this infrastructural study
is related to human resources,
then training the human resources
should be rapidly initiated. Setting an
objective is good, but identification
of the milestones for reaching the
target should be made thoroughly.
If there is a gap in the coordination,
then it should be filled. Understanding
clearly what needs to be done,
overcoming the obstacles, and if
there is a resistance from any of the
aspects then determining ways of
moving around it is essential. If you
do not establish a correct strategy,
if you do not have products to sell
then reaching such targets will not be
possible. Within such a framework,
while covering the needs of our
Armed Forces, we focused more on
the products bearing export potential,
composed various product families for
many requirements. As the utilization
of these products by our Armed Forces
increases and as they are known
better, I am sure that they will be
assuming a driving force towards our
export target.
How do you assess Turkey’s
efficiency in Gulf and Arab
Countries in respect of Turkey’s
naval, land and aerial platforms and
related system solutions?
Turkish Defence Industry has
succeeded significant changes in
the recent years with the solutions
developed in land, naval and aerial
platform and so to speak changed
her shell. Due to the challenging
requirements of Turkish Armed
Forces, the sector went far beyond
the point of merely providing highquality
products that it develops and
produces for our armed forces; our
products presently compete with other
products in international markets.
Today our sector has the capacity
to manufacture the main defence
platforms and their sub-systems from
main battle tanks to wheeled and
tracked land vehicles, from fast patrol
boats and frigates to attack helicopters
and unmanned aerial vehicles. The
fact that most of the products and
system solutions produced by Turkish
Defence Industry are being utilized
by TAF increases their competency
in international markets, and the
fruitful export activities of recent
years confirm the reliability of our
products and capabilities in the
international arena. Our companies
accomplished successful projects with
many countries in the Middle East,

Gulf countries, Middle Asia and Far
East with their high-quality products
and competitive prices. Deliveries of
many systems, the wheeled armored
vehicles and fast patrol boats in
particular, were accomplished in
the aforesaid regions and effective
cooperation activities have been
continuing with various countries.
You recently opened SSM offices
in USA, Belgium, Saudi Arabia and
Kazakhstan in order to increase the
efficiency of our defence industry
abroad and become close to
markets while strengthening the
cooperation. Do you envision a
structure covering the African and
Arab countries within the scope of
your future plans?
As you mentioned, we launched
four SSM offices in four countries
in order to present and increase
the recognition of the products and
capabilities of Turkish defence industry
in foreign markets and pave the way
for our companies in international
markets through governmental
support. Our offices in Washington
D.C., Brussels, Riyadh and Asthana
not only conduct their studies and
activities in the countries they exist but
also struggle to develop cooperation
in defence industry in their regions.
We believe that launching new offices
in other regions would enable the
establishment of new cooperation and
thus contribute to our sector. Within
this scope, we are continuing our
studies and evaluations for opening
two more offices in Africa and Far
Is there a certain road map on
the short, medium and long term
cooperation to be established
between the Arab Countries and
Turkey? What would you like to say
on the existing cooperation and
potential opportunities?
As I previously mentioned, we
achieved great success in cooperating
with the Middle East and Gulf
Countries in defence industry in the
last ten years. Our defence companies
pursue these efforts in a devoted
manner while continuing our intensive
contacts with our respondents in
order to establish new collaborations.
We are always willing to share
our technologies transformed into
products as a result of our companies’
intense efforts with the friendly and
allied nations in light of the plans and
guidance of our Undersecretariat.
Becoming the architect of a
sustainable and competitive defence
industry and gaining competence in
technologies regarding the defence
and security requirements of the future
are our most important targets. The
road map for developing our current
collaborations and creating new
cooperation opportunities depend on
the realization of aforesaid goals.
What are your comments on
Turkey’s expansion of existing
capabilities by establishing joint
collaborations with Arab Countries
through technology transfer?
The defence and security
requirements are certainly
indispensable for all countries.
Within the limit of their capacities, all
countries aim to own their technologies
concerning this issue and thus
minimize their technological and
logistical dependence. To this end,
currently the export achievements in
international defence market depend
on the share of technology in parallel
with the level of strategic alignment
between the countries in an increasing
level. Within this framework, we
fully support the establishment of
cooperation with the friendly and
allied nations through technology
transfer. Until now, we have given
our support to many countries both
through technology transfer and
establishment of joint initiatives and we
would like this point to be perceived by
our respondents as an indicator of our
sincerity and decisiveness.
Which opportunities will the
Arab investors that wish to invest in
Turkish market wait? What are the
incentives offered in this respect?
What are your comments?
Our country that has a very
privileged location in our region with
its position as a bridge among the
continents and cultures is an actor
committing a bright future especially
with its stable economic growth and
development in the last ten years. With
our young population of 30 million and
approximately 200 higher education
institutions, we have a highly qualified
and competitive labor force. Through
establishments such as Technology
Development Zones, Industrial Zones
and Free Trade Zones, we offer
substantial tax advantages to the
investors. Gathering all these factors,
Turkey becomes prominent, efficient
and cost-effective center of activity that
allows access to significant markets.
I believe that within this scope, with
its modern, improved and competitive
business environment, our country
has the capacity to host new investors
especially from the countries of the
regions that we share a common
history and cultural inheritance.

About The Author

Related Posts

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.