ANKARA, Turkey — Ukraine and its Black Sea neighbor Turkey are striving to deepen their emerging defense and aerospace industry cooperation, with high-level visits and talks on joint programs.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Urusky visited Ankara on Aug. 28 to discuss enhancing defense industry ties and forming partnerships for new projects. He told Ukrinform news agency that Ukraine was particularly hopeful on joint efforts to develop an aircraft engine.
Urusky said two Ukrainian companies, Ivchenko-Progress and Motor Sich, would hold talks with Turkish defense companies. He also said Ukrainian aircraft-maker Antonov hopes to enhance its partnership with Turkey’s state-controlled missile-maker Roketsan.
Urusky also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Turkish capital.
A Turkish aerospace official said Ukraine was offering Turkey the opportunity to assess co-production possibilities for Antonov’s cargo aircraft, the AN-178. “We are discussing co-production opportunities … in Ukraine or in Turkey,” the official said.
One of the major weaknesses of the Turkish industry is the lack of engine technology. For instance, Turkey’s most ambitious indigenous program — the design, development and production of a national fighter jet, dubbed TF-X — appears stalled, as Turkish aerospace authorities are yet to find an engine for the planned aircraft. The TF-X program was officially launched in December 2010. In January 2015 then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that the planned fighter would have a twin engine. That was when the search for an engine began.
Turkish-Ukrainian defense and aerospace cooperation took off with a 2019 deal for the sale of six Bayraktar TB2 drones, built by the privately owned Turkish company Baykar Makina, to Ukraine. The $69 million contract involved the sale of ammunition for the armed version of the TB2.
Later that year, state-controlled Ukrainian company Ukrspecexport and Baykar Makina signed what they view as a strategic cooperation deal. The agreement involves development and production of “sensitive technologies in defense and aerospace.” At the heart of the agreement is the planned development and production of advanced drone systems, both armed and unarmed.
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.