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Turkish Firms Flex Muscles at IDEF'13

May. 23, 2013 - 08:32PM   |  
By BURAK EGE BEKDIL   |   Comments
Contract wins for Turkish defense companies announced during IDEF'13 include a US $100 million deal for Aselsan, which will supply software and parts for the Turkish version of the Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter, the T-70.
Contract wins for Turkish defense companies announced during IDEF'13 include a US $100 million deal for Aselsan, which will supply software and parts for the Turkish version of the Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter, the T-70. (Sikorsky Aircraft)
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ANKARA — Turkey’s principal defense exhibition is no longer a venue for “foreigners to showcase products aiming at Turkish market,” but now an event where Turkish firms run the show, analysts and industry sources said.

“For the first time in two decades Istanbul’s stock traders kept a careful eye on Turkish defense companies, their products showcased at IDEF’13, rather than just shrugging off the exhibition where foreign arms makers ran the show,” said Ahmet Ergen, a financial analyst here. “Turkey’s local industry is becoming more and more vibrant and every foreign company that vies for Turkish contracts must now find a Turkish partner.”

A western CEO agreed: “The days of off-the-shelf sales to the lucrative Turkish market is almost entirely over now. Foreign companies must either find the right Turkish partner if they seek Turkish deals or offer extremely generous sub-contracts to the local industry.”

IDEF’13 hosted more than 800 defense companies from 49 countries May 7-10 in Istanbul. Organized since 1993, the exhibition is viewed as one of the world’s top five international events on defense and security. Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz has said that a “record number of agreements would be signed during the exhibition.”

In the last half a decade, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has made it a strict strategy to support and buy local equipment “wherever, whenever possible.”

Since then, Turkish companies have worked to design, develop and produce platforms that Turkey traditionally had purchased off-the-shelf from foreign manufacturers. These include UAVs, armored vehicles, corvettes, a new-generation main battle tank, trainer aircraft, electronic systems, missiles, rifles, software and even a fighter jet.

A top procurement official said: “IDEF’13 put a seal that confirms this strategy will continue on in the years ahead, and with the local industry becoming even more visible both in Turkey and abroad. I cannot imagine a major foreign contract involving major subcontracts with Turkish companies.”

For instance, Turkey’s biggest defense company, Aselsan, signed a deal with Sikorsky to supply parts and software for the Black Hawk helicopter, a deal that will guarantee Aselsan around US $100 million in orders annually for five to six years. The deal is part of Turkey’s $3.5 billion order for 109 helicopters from United Technologies’ Sikorsky unit, which is tied to orders and work for domestic manufacturers.

Aselsan CEO Cengiz Ergeneman said that although the Turkish contract involves 109 helicopters, there would be an export order of about the same quantity. As part of the program, the avionics suite will be designed by Aselsan, the engine will be manufactured by Turkish Engine Industries under the license of GE, and landing gear and transmission will be manufactured by ALP Aviation.

In another major Turkish-Western deal, missile-maker Roketsan and the German firms ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and Diehl Defence signed an agreement to develop and supply the submarine-launched Interactive Defence and Attack System for Submarines missile. The accord was inked at IDEF’13 on May 9.

Adding to the plethora of new “Turkish indigenous products” at IDEF’13, privately owned Turkish firm Vestel Savunma and its sister software concern Ayesas launched a tactical drone it designed, developed and built, the Karayel. The company said flight tests for the Karayel will be completed in the next couple of weeks, and six aircraft, three ground stations and one launching pad will be delivered to the Turkish military this year under a $40 million contract.

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