Economy, News

Turkish PM stresses focus on missile, space technology

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said Turkey’s military power hinges on locally produced technology.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has highlighted the importance of making investments in missile andspace technology to enhance Turkey’s military might.

“If we want to guarantee our perpetuity, especially in the next 100 years, we have to make necessary investments in missile and space technology and have major world-class infrastructures in these two sectors,” Davutoglu said Tuesday.

He made the remarks at the inauguration ceremony of the Turkish National Defense Ministry’s “Center for Firing, Testing and Assessment” in Karapinar Firing Range in central Konya province. The center has been jointly built by the Defense Ministry, Turkey’s leading missile specialist Roketsan and the Turkish Armed Forces.

Turkey will test and evaluate rockets and locally-produced missiles at the new facility, which can also be utilized by friendly countries, including NATO allies if Ankara permits.

The premier said the country was one of the major world powers in conventional war technologies, adding that Turkey combined its civilian and democratic identity with its military power and thus made its mark in the region.

“The instabilities in our region have clearly shown us that Turkey needs to develop its own missile andspace technology, and expand its national capacity beyond the one we have as a NATO member,” he said.

He stressed that Turkey had the technological capacity and geography to establish the firing, testing and evaluation centers needed by NATO countries to test and practice their weapons.

The premier noted that the Turkish defense industry had been dependent on imports by up to 80 percent until 2002 when his party came to power, but now, thanks to research and development that figure had gone down considerably.

“Economic power and military power are parallel to each other. The fate of a country that cannot produce its own tanks, planes or ships will be in the hands of the one that can,” he added.

Last Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Davutoglu also opened the $157 million “Radar and Electronic Warfare Technology Center,” launched by Turkey’s leading defense system producer, Aselsan, in Ankara.

Aselsan’s new facility in Ankara’s Golbasi districts will employ more than 1,200 people, including 776 engineers who will work on the development of radar and electronic warfare systems for land, air, sea, aerospace and unmanned platforms.

With the aim of nationalizing its defense industry, Turkey in recent years has taken strides in locally produced defense products. The Turkish Aerospace Industries, or the TAI, began producing the attack and tactical reconnaissance helicopter, the ATAK (or “Attack”), in 2009.

Also, the design and production is underway for Turkey’s main battle tank, known as ALTAY, whose engine and transmission units will be produced by TUMOSAN, the leading Turkish manufacturer of diesel engines.

Last month, the KARAYEL (or “northwest wind”) drone was launched, which was developed by Vestel, a private Turkish company. An earlier drone, the ANKA (“Phoenix”), was produced by TAI in 2010.

Turkish defense producers aim to boost exports to $25 billion by 2023 from $1.6 billion last year, Turkey’s Undersecretary for Defense Industries said recently.

The top export items were aircraft, helicopter parts, engines, armored-land vehicles, speed boats, missiles, rockets, launching platforms, light weapons and electronic systems, including transmitters, simulators, sensors and software.

Ankara spent over $1 billion on defense, research and development in 2014. Turkey’s defense spending was 29.4 billion Turkish liras, or $13.2 billion, this year, according to Turkish Defense Ministry.

Turkey is currently negotiating a $3.5 billion deal for a long-range air and anti -missile defense system, including local production, with potential supplies from China and Europe. NATO opposes China’s bid for the Turkishmissile defense system.

However, in February, Defense minister Ismet Yilmaz said that Turkey would integrate such a system from China into its national system that would be be used outside the NATO defense system.

The country plans to spend around $70 billion on military equipment until 2023, when the country will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of modern republic.

Reosurce: Anadolu Agency, March 24, 2015

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