ANKARA — Turkey and its littoral Black Sea neighbor, Ukraine, are striving to build a strategic industrial alliance that could include cooperation across a variety of military programs.
"There is a lot we can do together … work jointly. Ukraine has an established, proven industry with impressive capabilities … which can assist some of our indigenous programs," a senior Turkish procurement official said.
"This can be the beginning of a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership. There is a long way ahead. If the two sides manage to handle a successful takeover a promising cruise will be ahead. The first year of talks will be crucial," he said.
Ankara has its own ambitions to design, develop and manufacture indigenous fighter and tank engines as well as a program to build its own fighter jet. It also runs a number of missile programs, both tactical and cruise.
"Ukraine can be a suitable partner in many Turkish programs that are just shaping up," said one defense adviser to the Turkish government.
"We may also look at a Ukrainian aircraft body to make it a base model for our choice of the future Turkish fighter jet," he said.
But some political analysts said Ankara will face a difficult balancing act in relations between Kiev and Moscow.
"This [the Turkish-Ukrainian partnership] will certainly echo in Moscow, and not in a pleasant way," said one Vienna-based Russia analyst.
"It looks increasingly difficult for Turkey to maintain its policy to balance relations with hostile neighbors Ukraine and Russia," the Russia analyst said.
But Turkey also has been courting business with Ukraine. Earlier this year, Turkey and Ukraine held high-level strategic council meetings and agreed to boost bilateral trade and investment. Turkey has agreed to grant Ukraine US $10 million in humanitarian aid and a $450 million loan to help the war-torn country cover its budget deficit.
Burak Ege Bekdil is the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.