Turkey’s push for military independency comes with price – Bloomberg

The nationalist drive for military independence led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with the help of affiliated military companies like Baykar, is worrisome to traditional NATO partners, Bloomberg journalist Selcan Hacaoğlu wrote on Monday.

Turkish drones, like the Baykar TB2, have played decisive roles in foreign military interventions in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh over the last few years.

Turkish government defence industry monopolies are pouring billions of dollars of public funds into a network of private companies, which offer technology, patents and projects.

There were 62 defence projects in Turkey in 2002, when Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) took power. In 2018, this number rose to 667. Official data for 2019 and 2020 isn’t available yet, but there are recently. But the militarist adventures sustained by competing Turkish military products also come with a price, Bloomberg said.

“The U.S. sanctioned Turkey and locked it out of the Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 jet program for buying a Russian missile system, a deal Turkey hoped would include the transfer of technology,” it said.

Bloomberg also highlighted that firms from the U.K. and Canada have stopped supplying drone components once concerns were raised over how and where the planes were being used.

The same applies for supplying engines for Turkey’s Altay battle tank after political disputes with Germany, over the use of these tanks in Turkey’s interventions against the Kurdish autonomous region in Afrin (Northern Syria) in 2018. South Korea stepped in this year to supply the engines.

This is not new, while western traditional partners deny access, technology or equipment, or stop co-operation, Turkey looks for other partners.

“They asked Moscow for SU-35 aircraft platforms so local engineers can install Turkish-made avionics; and sought to co-produce warplanes and missiles with Pakistan, a hook up that could also give Ankara access to prized war technology from China, according to people familiar with the discussions,” according to Bloomberg. 

Ankara still says it wants to preserve links and cooperation with the West, but meanwhile maintains an independent approach.

Last month, Defense News website reported that Saudi Arabian manufacturers Intra Defense Technologies and the Advanced Electronics Company have started to co-produce a Turkish-made drone.