Turkey’s expanding military industry boosted by public funds – columnist 

Turkey’s military technology industry is making gains with companies maintaining close ties to the government receiving public funds proportional to their size and proximity, Duvar columnist Bahadır Özgür wrote on Tuesday.

Billions of liras in public funds are dispersed throughout the profiteering universe, like blood travels to smallest veins, he said.

“The system is much faster and more effective under the national defence umbrella,” Özgür said. “Most importantly, it can stay out of view”.

Turkey ranks 15ty in the world for weapons purchases, with $ 19 billion, and was the country with the biggest increase in military spending in 2019 among the top 15, with 24 percent. Revenue for companies in the defence industry raised from 4 four to 8 billion dollars in the last eight years.

Fifty one percent of the shares for ASELSAN Konya Weapons Systems Inc., whose parent company ASELSAN ranks fifty second among global defence companies, is public-owned, while the remaining 49 percent belongs to a company founded in 2018 named Konya Defence Co, based in the central Anatolian Konya province.

A total of 24 companies came together to form Konya Defence Co. The biggest partner, Koyuncu Transport, deals in automobiles and fuel stations, the article said. 

Under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments, Turkey has branched out to vehicle safety and runs vehicle inspections in 21 provinces in the name of German-Turkish joint venture TÜVTÜRK. The company also owns 18 small solar power plants in central Anatolia, and handles half of the salt export from Turkey’s Salt Lake.

Three out of the remaining partners are involved in weapons manufacturing, as smaller businesses that make hunting rifles and pistols, and there are some machine gun manufacturers and resellers among them. 

State partners for weapons manufacturing are mostly Konya-based textile, energy, food, automobile and energy/fuel companies.

There are other initiatives in industrial zones in neighbouring provinces, the article said, and 11 companies were established over the Defence Industry Technologies Co. (SSTEK), which was established in 2016 by Turkey’s Presidential Defence Industry Directorate. Four of these companies are partnered with private companies.

One of the companies is partnered with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s close ally, businessman Ethem Sancak, whose company TR Motor manufactures armoured vehicles for Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and has received ownership of the Tank Palet Factory, a transfer that was highly contested by the opposition, the article said.

Another company, Baykar Machines, owned by Erdoğan’s son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar, manufactures UAVs and UCAVs for the TAF. 

FNSS Defence Systems, another partner company known for construction and energy investments, received the tender to modernise TAF armoured vehicles, it added.
These big players have smaller solution partners themselves, creating a trickling down of profits, it said.

As Turkey gets more involved with the Syrian and Libyan crises, pro-government companies enter a new era of guaranteed sales, the article said, with a new focus on military technology added to the energy and construction industries.