Turkey’s defence facilities are at Azerbaijan’s disposal - industry chief

Turkey’s defence facilities are at Azerbaijan’s disposal in the country’s fight with Armenian forces in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, Yeni Şafak columnist Mehmet Acer cited Turkish Defence Industry Director İsmail Demir as saying.

Azerbaijan and neighbouring Armenia have been locked in border clashes that started on Sunday in an ongoing dispute over mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh. Although the area is officially recognised as part of Azerbaijan, it is governed as a de facto independent state with an ethnic Armenian majority.

Turkey and Azerbaijan, which is located in Central Asia, are close political allies sharing cultural and historical ties and have strong bilateral defence ties.

“We stand by Azerbaijan with all of Turkey’s means,” Acer cited Demir as telling him on a TV programme on Kanal 7. Demir relayed the comments in a regular column for Yeni Şafak on Monday.

Demir made similar comments when he met with Azerbaijani officials to discuss possible arms deals in July after fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces killed at least 16 people. Azerbaijan had recently acquired Turkish-made multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) and reportedly expressed interest in its Bayraktar TB2 combat drone.

Security experts such as Sebastien Roblin, a defence industry journalist, said that the Bayraktar was likely being used by the Azerbaijani military in the latest clashes, pointing to drone strike footage released by Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry which showed an interface identical to the one used for the Turkish-made UAV.

Acer praised the growth of Turkey’s arms industry and the performance of weapons such as the Bayraktar on the battlefield.

“When we take a look at the progress made since 2014, we can say that Demir, who has been in his position for six years now, has shifted Turkey’s defence industry into turbo mode,” Acer said.