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Turkish Defense Industries: Economic Gains and a New Door for Foreign Trade

The gains of the Turkish defense industries renaissance go beyond the political and military aspects to important economic gains, in light of the inflation, accumulated debts, and the depreciation of the national currency that the Turkish economy suffers from; Due to internal structural factors, and other external political factors.

Economic measures indicate that Turkish defense industries companies broke records with their sales volume during 2020 compared to their international counterparts.

Economic gain

In the same context, the director of economic studies at the Orsam Center in Ankara, Recep Yurulmaz, confirmed that the global defense market constitutes one of the most important economic inputs for arms exporting countries, including Turkey.

He pointed out that the Turkish defense industries do not only consist of the arms trade. Rather, it consists of a mixture of different areas such as education, trained workforce, new employment areas, broad sector investment infrastructure, scientific and technological developments, expanding dual-use products, and feeding other sectors.

Eurolmaz explained that defense industries have turned from a useless investment into a long-term economic gain.

He told Al-Jazeera Net, “The nationalization policies pursued by the Justice and Development Party government, which came to power after the financial crisis in 2001, and the economic reforms that were proposed in this direction, contributed to the development of defense industries.”

The Turkish economic expert added that “the volume of production and exports of defense industries reveals the contribution of this sector to the development of Turkey’s economy, and the solution to the problem of foreign trade deficit, which is one of the most fragile factors in the country’s economy, as it has recently contributed to the indirect increase in the value of the Turkish currency.”

Multiple use military vehicles of Turkish production (Al-Jazeera – Archive)

Self-sufficiency and low imports

According to a study published by the STRATFOR Center for Studies, Turkish official statistics indicate that the domestic Turkish defense industries are effectively meeting 70% of their military requirements, compared to only about 20% when the AKP came to power in 2003, which made it more An ability to confront the arms embargo, and enabled it to appear strongly and prepare to stay, after it underwent a painful experience in the embargo operations, the most recent of which was the European and American embargo as a result of Operation Peace Spring inside Syria.

The number of Turkish companies in the list of the most famous “100 defense industries”, the most famous in the world, rose to seventh place, and statistics indicate that Turkish arms imports during the period between 2015 and 2019 decreased by 48% compared to five previous years, despite their war against ISIS and Hezbollah. Kurdistan workers, and its operations in both Syria and Libya.

Exports increase

Turkey has made significant leaps in defense industry exports; Its exports reached $ 2.2 billion in 2018, an increase of 17% over the previous year, and increased to $ 3 billion by the end of 2019, a number that qualified Ankara to occupy the 14th place among the capitals that export the most weapons in the world, according to the report of the Stockholm International Research Institute. Peace “(SIPRI), which also indicated that Turkish arms exports have increased by 170% over the past ten years.

The United States of America occupies the center of the first importer of weapons from Turkey, followed by Germany and the Sultanate of Oman in third place, in addition to the big boom in exports to friendly countries such as Qatar, as the value of Turkey’s defense and air exports to Qatar amounted to 138 million and 753 thousand dollars since Early this year, an increase of 1336.6% compared to last year.

Several major arms deals have been concluded with Pakistan, including deals to deliver 30 combat helicopters and 4 “Frigate” warships.

Turkey also sold hundreds of Kirpi anti-mine armored vehicles to Tunisia and Turkmenistan, and exported Cobra armored personnel carriers to countries such as Bahrain, Bangladesh, Mauritania, and Rwanda. Turkey and Uzbekistan also agreed to produce 1,000 armored vehicles. Dragon type on the Uzbek soil, which contributes to the opening of the Turkish defense industries to Asian markets.

Strategic plan

At the end of 2018, the Turkish Presidency of Defense Industries issued its strategic plan for the period 2019-2023, which aims to increase the revenues of the Turkish defense sector to 26.9 billion dollars, increase exports to 10.2 billion dollars, and meet 75% of the country’s military needs locally in 2023, compared to 65%. In 2018.

According to the Turkish Defense and Aviation Manufacturers Association data for the year 2019, which was published in April 2020, the sector’s exports increased in 2019 by 40.2% to reach $ 3.1 billion, compared to $ 2.2 billion in 2018.

Total sales increased by 24.2% to reach $ 10.9 billion, compared to $ 8.8 billion in 2018.

Turkey has set strategic goals by 2053, such as making the Turkish defense industries 100% independent, occupying 10 Turkish companies, the list of the 100 largest defense companies in the world, and increasing their export capacity to 50 billion dollars.

Corona pandemic

The outbreak of the Coronavirus has had an impact on defense industries as well as other sectors. Leading companies with large contributions to the defense industries provided their support to needy sectors through their production lines during the epidemic crisis. For example, the Machinery and Chemical Industries Company (MKEK), which produces equipment for the Turkish Armed Forces, shifted its efforts to temporarily focus on protection equipment and equipment. Medical across its factories.

The technology company “Nanobase”, in cooperation with the Presidency of Defense Industries and the Ministries of Technology and Health, has worked to produce devices to detect the Corona virus.

ASELSAN and BAYKAR teamed up with Arçelik and BIOSYS to produce Turkey’s first homemade ventilator.

New deals

Turkish companies continued to make new defense deals and provide systems to customers during the epidemic period. On March 23, India signed a $ 2.3 billion deal with the Turkish shipbuilding group TAIS, under which 5 ships would be built. Auxiliary weight of 45 thousand tons for the Indian Navy.

Aselsan has signed agreements with Bahrain, Kazakhstan and a NATO member state whose name has not been disclosed for advanced remote-controlled weapons systems.

A number of agreements have recently been signed with Ukraine in the field of production and technology sharing of “frigate” ships (larger than a frigate) and armed unmanned aircraft.


During the last ten years, the home-made UAV industry has grown in both its exploration and armed aspects; Turkey occupies a position among the first 4 countries in the world in this field.

Turkish official reports say that the local drone forces are imposing themselves as an alternative to the advanced technology of the United States and Israel, as Ankara plans to export the two marches, “Bayraktar Akıncı”, to the largest number of countries.

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