Apr 17 2019

Turkish defence exports goal for 2023 too ambitious despite growth – analysts

While Turkey has announced another year of growing defence and aerospace exports, it is far from reaching its goal of $25 billion per annum by 2023, analysts Yvonni-Stefania Efstathiou and Tom Waldwyn wrote for the Britain-based International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank.

Turkey’s exports were less than 10 percent of the ambitious goal, the article said, but the country’s defence industry was still making progress.

Turkish defence and civil aerospace exports were up by 17 percent 2018 against the previous year, reaching a record $2 billion, the article said, citing Turkey’s Undersecretary for the Defence Industry Directorate İsmail Demir.

It is difficult to know how far Turkey is from hitting an annual defence and civil aerospace sales and services export target of $25 billion in the next four years in each subcategory since authorities do not provide a breakdown of their figures, the article said.

But it is fair to say Turkey is making progress towards becoming a significant defence exporter, the article said, adding that defence-export contracts signed over the last 12 months reflected the growing capability of the Turkish defence industry.

Turkish companies such as ASELSAN, HAVELSAN and ROKETSAN now produce combat systems and guided weapons while significant industrial capability gaps continue with regard to marine and aircraft propulsion and in radars, it said.

Of the 13 countries Turkey has reported delivering armoured vehicles to since 2010, such as Bahrain, Tunisia and Turkmenistan, 11 are both Muslim and diplomatically friendly, the article added.

Ankara has been unable to match its success in exporting defence equipment to Muslim nations elsewhere in the world and has failed to secure any significant defence exports to fellow NATO members.

Turkey over the next decade is likely continue to rely on imports and licence-production agreements for significant components, while also making progress with ongoing initiatives to develop indigenous alternatives, it said.

Challenges facing the Turkish defence and aerospace industry include the falling value of the lira and an economy is at risk of a recession.

Relations with the United States and other suppliers have been strained following the crackdown that followed the July 2016 failed coup attempt, as well as other policy differences, such as the acquisition of Russian S-400 air-defence missiles.

Turkey’s fragile relations with fellow NATO members means that it may find it increasingly difficult to obtain and afford crucial foreign subsystems to equip its platforms and those it is trying to export, the article noted.

Another problem facing Turkey is the brain drain of young, skilled workers from the Turkish defence industry to foreign companies, who are leaving for Europe and the United States where higher salaries and better conditions are offered.