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Interview

CTech – Steady Stride of Success; Strategy Based on Products & Solutions and Competition

In an exclusive Defence Turkey Magazine interview, CTech General Manager Dr. Cüneyd Fırat discusses the company’s projects, national and international commercial and government partners in defense, security, satellite systems, cyber security and broadcasting technology

Defence Turkey: Dear Dr. Fırat, first of all we would like to thank you for this interview and your time. Could you please inform us on CTech’s structure and areas of activity?

We are conducting our activities in our main office at Teknopark Istanbul and at our branch office at Bilkent Cyberpark in Ankara. We were merely 4-5 staff when we started our journey in the beginning of 2005 and currently we are carrying out our activities with a family composed of nearly a 100 staff. CTech is continuing to take firm steps ahead in its 13th year of establishment with a strategy based on products and competition and by putting forth worldwide products and solutions.

Our main activities and competencies are composed of signal processing and embedded systems and PC based software development, various operating systems and design and development of software in several languages. The projects we accomplished and the products we developed in the past are the proof of this. We managed to put forth comprehensive products. The areas we introduced as part of our strategic planning throughout our development process and the areas we started to work on; namely the new generation communication technologies - I have to mention the wireless communication and satellite communication under this title – which contain cyber security and various simulation applications. For instance, in respect to satellite communication, we are the designer and manufacturer of the STANAG 4606 frequency hopping satellite terminal developed merely by a European company in addition to our company in the world. On the other hand, within the scope of the Technology Acquirement Project which we initiated upon the approval of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), we are developing the indigenous and domestic satellite communication terminal for the ANKA etc. air platforms as the subcontractor of TAI. We also have a line of vision communication products that we developed for the manned and unmanned air vehicles. In addition to the aforementioned, we have a MODEO product family for image and data transfer purposes that we delivered for the publication sector and the internet of things (IoT) applications. MODEO is capable of transferring mobile images and data to an eligible point over lines such as the 3G, 4.5G, Wifi and Ethernet from any given point in the world. There is our CUSTOS product group that we introduced in Cyber Security and Information Security areas as well. Our product named KRYPTOS within this product group enables the encryption of all documents (documents, photographs, videos, etc.) and e-mails on institutional and individual basis. This solution is quite practical as it provides the security of the data put especially into the cloud or the security of shared institutional documents. Moreover, it allows the secure access to your data through the mobile environment via the Bluetooth. CUSTOSISM examines all the traffic in your internal network in depth, conducts a full security risk analysis and identification, and creates situational awareness on your network. We placed all these products onto the shelf and we are conducting activities considering their sales. Our activities concerning modelling and simulation are mostly based on aviation. These are divided into three categories: Our air defense modelling and simulation software, surround sound and communication modelling and simulations for air simulators and the modelling environment we actualized for decreasing radar visibility of air platforms and other platforms. 

Defence Turkey: As CTech, you are taking part in the consortium for the development of the Türksat 6A domestic communication. Could you please share with us the recent status of your responsibilities and the activities conducted within the scope of this program?

The design is being made from scratch in Türksat 6A project. Almost all sub systems as part of this design bear a considerable level of criticality and risk as space systems are not capable of returning back and they have to create the timeline in orbit. We are developing a commercial service satellite as part of the Türksat 6A project. It is an R&D project but Türksat will employ it and use it for commercial purposes. There are also R&D satellites in the world and they are being launched merely for trial purposes. This is not such a project therefore the R&D and design activities will be executed in a way to avoid risking the expectations of Türksat too much. Timeline products will be used in some of the critical sub systems as well. Though, the domestic systems within the scope of the project will be experimentally developed in the meantime and will be placed into orbit in order to acquire the timeline. These have unique details. We are responsible for the module that we refer to as the telemetry, tele command and ranging (TCR) that enables the control communication of the satellite.  It is not a great part yet it is a critical one since it provides the connection of the satellite with the ground station. We will procure a timeline product and integrate it to the system. On the other hand, as part of the same study, we are also responsible for the development of a domestic and experimental TCR module as an R&D dimension. This experimental TCR, which will be tested in the 6A satellite, is expected to become the standard component of our future satellites. This project contains a significant amount of system engineering activities as well.  

Defence Turkey: Dr. Fırat, you are conducting the development and production of the Line of Sight Communication and UAV SATCOM Communication solutions that are amongst the critical technologies considering the Unmanned Air Vehicles as well. Could you share with us the joint studies you execute with the companies such as Baykar, TAI, Vestel active in this area and the programs you conduct under the guidance of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries?

The Line of Sight and SATCOM data links for the air vehicles are amongst our strategic product areas and we have been intensively conducting our investments and activities in this area for years. As I mentioned before, we have a UAV SATCOM Terminal design and development project which we initiated within the scope of ANKA-S program with a TQM characteristic on behalf of the SSM and conducted by TAI in 2015. The terminal we developed as part of this project has a national waveform and a DVB-S2 waveform compatible with the international standards. Moreover, we are working on a nationally designed Line of Sight data link in coordination with the SSM. Without doubt, we have been executing such activities in close cooperation and coordination with the leading producers of our national UAV platforms Baykar and TAI. As a result of such activities, we are currently at the stage of launching the Baykar and ANKA platforms in both subjects. Our products will be hopefully flying over these platforms in the first half of 2017. 

In line with our global productization and strategic competition approach, we are establishing these activities that we conduct in this area as a product family concerning all military and civil air platforms. Therefore, we are examining our rivals in both technical and commercial aspects, and conducting competition analysis and follow-up in a very intense manner. We are aware that putting forth globally ambitious products requires considerable amount of in-depth and concentrated effort. Thereby, we will continue to introduce competitive products that please our shareholders and that carry out our productization and diversification activities in this area without depending on the dynamics of any project.  

Defence Turkey: Could you please share with our readers the know-how, technology and capabilities obtained through the UAV SATCOM - a technology acquisition project realized within the scope of the ANKA-S project, as well as the current status of the development program?

SATCOM TQM has been an important milestone for us within this context, as we have seized the opportunity to develop a useable product by taking the features and limits of the platform into consideration with the TAI team as part of the project. In this way, we are conducting an R&D study particularly as part of the application. The aim of the TQM projects is essentially to enable integrity and efficiency. Therefore, I would like to thank SSM and TAI for their support and cooperation. The aim is to install a demountable end-product to the aircraft. We are also designing a modem with a national waveform which is available for the utilization in air vehicles as part of this project. The activities within the scope of our project are continuing with speed and enthusiasm. Our schedule proceeds as foreseen. Soon we will start the tests of the first drive of our terminal. We are planning to launch the system integration activities at TAI’ ANKA system integration laboratory in the first quarter of 2017.  Consequently, we aim to realize the flight of the first prototype of our terminal within 2017 at ANKA as the final stage.  

Defence Turkey: It is a fact that the communication range limits the operation range in the line of sight systems. Which types of capabilities do the LOS and BLOS solutions, that you developed and introduced as products regarding this issue, provide to users? What would you like to share on the latest status of the activities conducted regarding the integration of this product into the national platforms? 

The unmanned air vehicles provide a communication within the range of maximum 200 - 250 kilometers as the ground station senses the air vehicle which we refer to as the visual communication under normal usage conditions. However, when a satellite terminal is installed to the unmanned air vehicle, your range may extend for thousands of kilometers therefore this will provide you quite a significant strategic advantage. Not many countries in the world could achieve this, only a few countries managed to develop this technology. Our satellite communication terminal which we developed for unmanned air vehicles is among our products with serious export potential, it is not a product with many alternatives in the world and since it is among the technologies that are limited when being sold, one cannot procure it for any application whenever desired. 

As CTech, we put forth an indigenous solution for the first time in this area. As I mentioned previously, we initially aim the Bayraktar and ANKA platforms. Yet we assess that our targeted platforms will not be limited to these as there are demands for certain platforms with different qualities as well. There are also some platforms that we wish to focus on and our activities in this area are being conducted intensively. We will be diversifying this product group in the future again. 

Defence Turkey: As CTech, you are introducing to the market, secure communication EPM modems with frequency hopping capability and which also have anti-jamming capacity. What are your comments on these solutions? 

Satellite communication provides strategic advantages to its users. Then again, it has to be secure, resistant against jamming and interference and interception will be avoided as well and these points are quite critical for achieving strategic communication. Satellite communication is a technology area that has matured and its utilization has extended over the years and the technologies identified for the future in this area are expected to be the satellite terminals for mobile platforms and terminals with waveforms resistant against jamming/interference. Already the requirements set forth by practice and various users’ expectations over the years have been defined under these two titles. As CTech, we stand at the intersecting point of the activities we accomplished and the products we developed and these two contemporary technologies, our know-how and products/solutions remain as well. We previously mentioned our mobile satellite terminal solution which we developed for the UAV SATCOM. Yet our activities and know-how are not limited to this. We have been working on the development and production of the satellite terminals of the armed forces with EPM (Electronic Protective Measures) since 2006. As a result of these efforts, our company both introduces domestic products for our armed forces to conduct secure and anti-jamming satellite communication and we present them to our customers abroad as the second company in the world manufacturing such products aligning with the NATO standards. The operating principle of these terminals are resistant against thousands of frequency-hopping per second at broadband if required. 

Naturally, both with mobile satellite terminal know-how and as a company with EPM technology, we have set for ourselves the mobile EPM terminals as a target and in line with our productization approach, hopefully we will be including this product to our product and solution family within 2017.

Defence Turkey: Could you please inform us on your activities regarding Cyber Security?

We have been conducting activities in Cyber Security since 2007. For example, we have established a central security system at operator level and have become one of the ground breaking companies in this area in Turkey. We built the central network security system of Türksat Kablo and the system is currently providing services to approximately 600,000 subscribers. Therefore, we have accumulated our experience starting from this point. Following this, we developed solutions that could analyze and track the traffic, in an IP traffic in a few gigabytes per second. We are at the identification and analysis side of the threats. When you are on this side, you need to have a perspective deeper than the classical methods and put the data collected from different sources together in order to increase your competence in detection and identification. We have been working on this technology for years. We have participated in various R&D projects concerning this issue, too. We remained on the data fusion part of these activities. We are following NATO activities as well. We have been conducting these with our own initiative, and we are proceeding in line with our own road map.

Our aim in these activities is to deliver the products and solutions that will appeal to all of the defense or civil customer groups and will cover the end users as well. Our KRYPTOS and CUSTOS products, that I have mentioned when replying your first question, have been completely developed in this context and they appeal to quite a wide user profile. 

Defence Turkey:  Dr. Fırat, what are your opinions on the other critical technologies that your company develops and produces in the area of defense?

Our company is the provider of products and solutions in various modelling and simulations, mostly focused on the area of aerospace. Development of Air Defense Modelling and Simulation software package, realization of surround sound and communication simulations of various military aircraft simulators and radar cross-sectional area modelling and estimation activities can be considered as the activities we have accomplished so far to this end.

The Air Defense Modelling and Simulation package is one of the products we developed that need to be emphasized within the scope of SAMMOS-1 project. This package is composed of various sub-components enabling the modelling and operation of complex air defense scenarios. It is available for utilization in both training and analysis purposes. One of the most prominent features of this package is that it has a highly detailed and comprehensive model database in which one could define and run the common air defense scenarios composed of air, land and sea with high fidelity. There are very few products in the world with such details and reality level. This product is being utilized by various units of our Turkish Armed Forces at the present. We aim to present this product to the service of our users abroad. Moreover, our initiatives for integrating this solution with various other modelling and simulation platforms are still continuing.

Defence Turkey: Dr. Fırat, what would you like to say about the products you deliver to the regions where you are active abroad, and your export activities?

For example, we are marketing the MODEO product family to foreign countries. Recently we sold it to Qatar. Besides, we sold this group to India, African countries and even to the USA. Our sales network is expanding day by day. On the other hand, for the MOBloT utilized for data and image transfer within the context of the Internet of Things (IoT) in our MODEO product family, we are conducting certain studies with some of our clients in Saudi Arabia. If accomplished, it will set a great example. Within the scope of our “Hemaye” project, the fruitful cooperation we established with the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) which belongs to the government of Saudi Arabia and is one of the milestones in providing the demand of the country based on high technology, is one of the important examples of our export and foreign cooperation initiatives. We have brought another negotiation, for another joint project with KACST, to the final stage as well. In addition to the aforementioned examples, we are returning with significant networks and opportunities from almost all of the foreign events that we have attended. We observe that the demand and interest in this area are increasing noticeably as we put our products onto the shelves each day. 

At this point, I would like to thank the International Cooperation Department of the SSM for their support in this area. We are working in close cooperation with the foreign offices of the SSM. Meanwhile, we put our signature in certain significant international cooperation initiatives. For instance, our ClickNET Company within the body of our CTECH Technology Group is the main representative of the satellite operator of the United Arab Emirates YAHSAT in Turkey, we are conducting its sales. Currently, merely the foreign satellites have sales in Turkey in Ka band. We expect to become also one of the solution partners of Türksat in this area. If we aim to manufacture technological products, then a single country would not be sufficient. If we wish to collect 70% of our revenues from product sales, then we need to open up sales globally. Without doubt, we need to proceed wisely on this point without wasting our resources. We select prominent activities as targets and allocate our resources to them. Our objective is to increase exports and build a balance composed of 40% exports and 60% internal market in the next ten years.

Defence Turkey: Dr. Fırat, which fairs did CTech participate in that were in foreign countries in 2016?

As CTECH Technology Group, we participated in many national and international organizations in 2016. We had hundreds of meetings at these fairs and we had the opportunity to interact with thousands of people and to talk about our products and solutions. In February, we exhibited our products for mobile technology at the 2016 Barcelona Exhibition GSMA Mobile World Congress, one of the biggest fairs in the world. We exhibited our defense and marine products at the DIMDEX 2016 (Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference) fair held in Doha, Qatar in March, and participated in the Cabsat 2016 fair at the Dubai World Trade Center to introduce our products and solutions for the publishing industry. In April, we took part in the 15th DSA 2016 (Defence Services Asia) Fair held in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, and had the opportunity to talk about CTech products and solutions. In September we attended the 2nd ADEX 2016 (Azerbaijan Defence Exhibition) held in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku. We introduced Mobile Broadband Video Transmission (4G / LTE / WiFi) and Cyber Security products and solutions in GITEX Technology Week, which is recognized as one of the biggest and most important ICT fairs in October. At the IDEAS 2016 Fair in Pakistan in November, we exhibited our products and solutions at our CTech stand. During the last fair in 2016, we talked about satellite and wireless communication solutions at the 2nd Global SatShow Fair. 

In 2016, we participated in many organizations both at home and abroad, our stands attracted a great deal of attention and we had the opportunity to host many high-end domestic and foreign guests. We will continue our intensive participation in 2017. Our preparations for IDEF 2017, which we expect to take place in May, will be held with great enthusiasm. In 2017 we will continue to promote our products and capabilities as CTECH Technology Group through national and international organizations. 

Defence Turkey: We know that as CTech, you have been working on introducing commercial products and directing your activities accordingly in addition to developing project based products.  What types of advantages and flexibilities does your adopted approach bring you in the market?

Since our establishment, we have been careful to act with the target of presenting the technology and product accumulation we own to a diverse market and user profiles, and to identify our strategies accordingly.  Again, we attach great importance to the productization and product management discipline strategically. These are approaches complicating daily lives a bit while also providing important advantages. Having a product perspective leads you to have all your design, development and production activities to be based on plans to open up to different markets, delivering products rapidly and being competive. This means that all the cycles from the organizational structure, the processes, to the business development activities of your company need to be shaped to coincide with this mindset. This point of view provides a very important efficiency and dynamism to the company. 

Defense Industry projects and opportunities in our country are being realized in a rather slow process. Most of them are capable of lasting many years. This may cause inertia in the defense industry companies from time to time. From this perspective, the opening of the sector to other markets than that of just the defense industry, is a source of dynamism for us and all the companies of the sector. For example, as the CTECH Technology Group companies, we attend the other sectors’ events as much as the defense and security events that we participate in. For instance, last year we attended many events held regarding telecommunication, broadcasting and IT in our country and abroad and seized the opportunity to interact with different customer profiles.

Defence Turkey: Where do you plan to position CTech in the next ten years’ period?

As the CTECH Technology Group, we are proceeding in a trend of reasonable and sustainable development. We are a company aware of the high technology area; it is a long and narrow path requiring a high level of patience, persistence and effort. It is quite like a meal cooked over low heat. Hopefully we have many decades ahead.

With this understanding, we aim to develop our company’s product profile horizontally and vertically within the next ten years. Yet, surely the spontaneous circumstances arising will be quite determinant. If such circumstances would not surprise us, CTech’s aim is to proceed in line with the products and solutions it has generated so far. We believe that the areas we work on and our profile are fertile and open to market development. Then again, as high technology is open to global competition even on a domestic scale, product range and quality require a tough contest. In the meantime, it requires good marketing and promotional efforts as well. In the upcoming years, we will be developing our structure in respect to institutionalization and the development processes of our products as well as our investments focused on achieving the level of competition in question.

At the point which we have arrived, approximately 30% of CTECH Technology Group’s turnover is composed markets outside of the defense industry. With  determined development, our target for the next five year period is to accomplish 50% of our revenues from markets other than defense and again acquire 60% of our turnover from the sales of our products on the shelves. We are exerting great efforts toward this end.

Defence Turkey: Dr. Fırat, on the other hand you have been conducting the Vice Presidency of the SAHA Istanbul Cluster. What are your comments on the activities conducted within the context of SAHA Istanbul?

As you know, the large and small industrial enterprises located in the Northern Marmara Region extending from Edirne to Sakarya compose the industrial core of our country. A considerable part of these companies possess worldwide qualified design and production competency. 75% of our country’s shipyards are located in this region.  Again, this region is rapidly moving toward becoming one of the world’s aerospace centers both in operational and technical aspects. 

SAHA Istanbul, based in Istanbul and covering all North Marmara, was established with the mission of focusing on this great potential regarding defense, aerospace and space projects both in domestic and global aspects. I am deliberately using the ‘mission’ as our basic motivation is to contribute to our country’s transformation from medium level technological production to a high technological qualified economy.

SAHA is just about to become two years old but during this period it has attracted great interest and currently it is the greatest defense, aerospace and space industry cluster of our country. We envisage that its growth and development trend will continue in the upcoming years. As SAHA, we are providing various services to our members in line with our mission. For example, we gather our members with the leading defense, aviation and space companies in our country and on global scale at the industry days we organize in the format of B2B negotiations. This is quite beneficial both for the main contractor companies and for our members. On the other hand, we are holding informational and orientation activities on the dynamics of the defense, aviation and space sectors and on the qualifications required for our requesting members. We are participating in major national and international fairs, workshops, etc. events together, in synergy. We are also conducting some activities for creating synergy with other similar clusters. We are relaying our comments and suggestions to the representatives for the development of our country’s policies and implementations in this area. We are executing similar other activities as well. 

Teknopark Istanbul holds an exclusive meaning for SAHA Istanbul as Teknopark Istanbul is the environment in which SAHA was created and developed. We have a great synergy with the Teknopark and we are conducting our activities as brother initiatives. We assess that this powerful industrial cluster such as SAHA Istanbul and its gathering with Teknopark Istanbul ,which is also a quite strong and in-depth initiative, is very important and efficient for the sake of our country’s future. This close cooperation will be generating very great and productive results in the upcoming years. 

Defence Turkey: Lastly, is there any message you would like to convey to the readers of Defence Turkey magazine?

Our country has been going through regional and cyclical problems. But despite all these issues, the considerable amount of stability and development in such a level, envied by many other countries in the world, is the indicator of the rooted infrastructure of our country and our people and their significant potential. In the last 20 years, noticeable developments emerged in the critical infrastructure (transportation, communication, education, social environments, etc.) that took place in our country. Besides, our country, both our directors and our people, grasped the importance of the transfer to a value-added economy. The psychological infrastructure essential for this is prepared. In the forthcoming period, we need to take the steps allowing this transfer with intensive efforts and good organization both as the government and as the private sector and work in great synergy to this end. For achieving this, we have to concentrate on the medium and long term, sustainable road maps, without being distracted by the temporary and cyclical agenda.

On the other hand, we expect the utilization of domestic technology in the public sector to be emphasized and addressed more for our development in high technology. We unfortunately have certain negative experiences in this area. We are one of the companies going through such issues in our activities except for defense industry. Therefore, we attach importance to this issue. This awareness should be underlined by the public sector for sure. I believe that, otherwise, our country would not be able to reach the next level in the area of technology. We need leverage for making certain things possible and this leverage will be created particularly by the public sector in our country. This is our reality. The public sector would not like to take risks due to certain existing regulations and habits. We need to work on certain solutions and methods for relieving the decision makers in the public sector and we are taking steps to this end. If these initiatives are supported, a positive momentum will be added to the technological development. Because a company must achieve many things toward developing technology; and maybe 30% of it will remain permanent while 70% will be lost. These could not be accomplished unless a momentum is achieved.