ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish government officials and industry executives are hoping to find new sales in what they see as emerging export markets in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
“These are promising markets for Turkish manufacturers,” said one senior procurement official.
A Turkish diplomat familiar with the three countries said that “smooth, friendly, problem-free political relations” with all three Asian countries promise export deals for Turkish companies. “As more Turkish-made systems become combat-proven [by local use], interest from those countries will increase,” he said.
Hakan Kurt, chairman of Capital Exhibition, calls Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan as “hot markets” for Turkish defense and aerospace industries. Capital Exhibition organizes Defence Port Turkey South Asia.
“Turkish manufacturers do not have the problem of ‘lack of sellable platforms’ like they had a decade ago,” Kurt said.
Kurt expects that Turkish defense and aerospace exports to the three Asian countries could reach $5 billion in the next 10 years.
Turkey’s overall defense exports stood at $2.74 billion in 2019, down from the official target of $3 billion.
A defense specialist in Ankara advised caution about Asian markets.
“These countries need hardware. They have good political ties with Turkey. But their economies are often cash-strapped. Turkey may also have licensing problems in any potential export deal as it depends on foreign technology for local production,” he said.
In 2018, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) signed a $1.5 billion agreement to sell a batch of 30 T129 attack helicopters to Pakistan. But the deal has not moved forward as TAI has failed to secure U.S. export licenses for the contract.
The T129 is a twin-engine multirole attack helicopter produced under license from the Italian-British company AgustaWestland. It’s powered by two LHTEC T800-4A turboshaft engines. Each engine can produce 1,014 kilowatts of output power. The T800-4A is an export version of the CTS800 engine. LHTEC, the maker of the engine, is a joint venture between the American firm Honeywell and the British company Rolls-Royce.
The defense specialist said that most likely Turkish hardware to go into Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan would include naval vessels and patrol boats (except Afghanistan), smart ammunition, drones and armored vehicles.
Burak Ege Bekdil is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He has written for Hurriyet Daily News, and worked as Ankara bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He is also a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Middle East Quarterly and Gatestone Institute.