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Interview

Thales, an Ideal Partner for Turkey - Technological Cooperation Addressing Local and Export Markets with Turkish Industry

In an exclusive interview, Thales Group Turkey Country Director Mr. Ali Serdar Baran discusses Thales’ broad product and technology portfolio in the defense sector

Defence Turkey: Mr. Baran, as Thales Country Director in Turkey, how do you assess Thales’s activities and presence in Turkey?

We have been present in Turkey since 1987 and now have 115 employees. Our principal activities include the major defense projects (TRS 22XX radar, Meltem aircraft, Genesis Combat Management System, SMART-S radar), ground transportation projects (Ankara-Istanbul High Speed Line Phase I & Phase II, and Kadıkoy-Kartal Metro), aerospace projects (In Flight Entertainment and Navaids), and space projects (Turksat 1A, Turksat 1B, Turksat 1C, Turksat 2A, Turksat 3A and Göktürk-1). 

During this period, we created two engineering companies in Turkey; Yaltes in defense and Thales Ulasim in ground transportation. Both companies have software, hardware and maintenance capabilities and have quickly gained the confidence and recognition of Turkish customers. We are proud of it. Our presence since 1987 demonstrates our confidence in Turkey.

Defence Turkey: Could you give us any details on collaborations undertaken with Turkish defense industry companies?

During our 30 years of presence in the country we have built very valuable cooperation with local industry in the public and private sectors through the implementation of our major projects mentioned previously.  

We have launched cooperative initiatives with Aselsan, Havelsan and TAI through the Meltem project. This has been extended to areas including Combat Management Systems, radar, avionics and satellites. In addition, we have several export success stories with Turkish platform manufacturers. Our brand in the defense domain is one of the strongest in the world. When it is combined with the excellent platforms of Turkish industry and Turkish shipyards, the result is a powerful platform for both domestic and export markets.

Another example of our international collaboration aimed at addressing growing markets such as coastal defense is the Aselsan Missile Launch System (MLS) with our Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM).

Our successful experience in cooperating with Turkish companies encourages us to develop more export opportunities with them.

Defence Turkey: Could you please inform us about your Space capabilities? 

For more than 40 years now, Thales Alenia Space has designed, integrated, tested, operated and delivered innovative space systems. Our cutting-edge products and services meet the needs of commercial and government customers from around the world, spanning the space, defense, science and security markets. Thales Alenia Space’s satellites and payloads are recognized worldwide as benchmarks in delivering communications and navigation services, monitoring our environment and the oceans, better understanding climate change and supporting scientific research. Today, Thales Alenia Space is one of the main suppliers to the International Space Station, and a pivotal player in systems to explore our Universe.

Thales Alenia Space’s huge experience in the Space domain paved the path to COSMO-SkyMed the first Earth Observation Satellite System in the world to be conceived and developed since the beginning for full dual application (where a civilian requirement joins a military one).

Defence Turkey: TF-X Indigenous Fighter Aircraft Program is one of the major programs on Turkey’s agenda. Could you please inform us about your activities within the concept of this program?

For combat aircraft platforms, we provide a complete package of electronics to meet our customers’ needs for tactical situation assessment.  As a result, our customers are better equipped to: 

Assess incoming threats, 

Detect and to identify air and surface targets at short, mid and long-range,

Engage in reconnaissance,

Fuse data from different sensors for a complete picture of the battlefield,

Prevent detection by enemy forces through jamming and decoying. 

Thales is the only company in Europe who can fulfill all the technological development needs (Integrated Electro Optical System, Integrated RF System, Integrated Processing Unit, Advanced Warfighter Cockpit Technologies, Integrated Communication and Navigation System, Helmet Mounted Display, Electrical Systems and many more) of the Turkish Fighter Aircraft TF-X project. 

Thales confirms its willingness to:

Discuss further with Turkish Aerospace Industry the possible working methodology to build up a mutually beneficial business model,

Scope the budget based on technology approach, architecture and cooperation scheme to be decided for the TF-X project.

Defence Turkey: Turkey also has several significant ongoing naval projects for the period ahead such as the mass production of MILGEM 5-8 vessels. Could you tell us more about your naval capabilities? 

Thales is proud to have supported the Turkish Navy for more than 35 years and we are continuing support to our valued customer.  As a demonstration of our commitment, we are preparing a maritime services office through its Turkish subsidiary YALTES in order to support legacy Thales equipment.

We also value our co-operation with local industry; as an example may I emphasize the licensed production of SMART-S with Aselsan for the Turkish market, and where feasible, the export market. In addition, several Aselsan-produced elements are contained in Thales exported SMART-S systems.

Thales Naval capabilities stretch across the complete naval sector, ranging from surveillance and fire control sensors, sonars, electronic warfare systems, up to combat management systems and complete turnkey integrated Naval mission solutions. Currently more than 50 navies sail with Thales equipment on more than 500 vessels.

In addition, Thales fully supports the export opportunities of the Turkish platform providers, in a well-balanced Turkish-foreign companies approach.

We wish to continue our good and supportive relationship with the Turkish Navy and industries for many years to come and provide solutions and technologies matching the requirements of the Turkish Navy as well as the Industrial Participation & Offset requirements of the Turkish government.

Defence Turkey: Cyber-attacks aimed at national infrastructure are on the rise globally and are becoming a serious threat. This has sparked significant investments by nation states to bolster their defenses. Turkey has been developing a road map to tackle this new threat. What are some of the group’s activities in this area which could benefit Turkey?

Cybersecurity is one of our main pillars. Thales, as a trusted partner, is one the European leaders in the fast-growing market of cybersecurity and the world leader in data protection.

Thales cybersecurity solutions are a crucial part of bids and proposals in the aerospace, transportation, defense and security sectors as well as in the development of future solutions. Drawing on its unrivalled experience, built up over 40 years of protecting classified information up to ‘top secret’ level, in today’s age of digital transformation, we provide our customers and partners with cutting-edge solutions and services in cybersecurity covering communication networks, databases and access control.

We have a team of 5,000 IT and security engineers, including 2,000 experts in cybersecurity. Among our references, Thales protects the transactions and sensitive systems for numerous international corporations: 19 of the 20 largest banks and over 3,000 financial institutions around the world, 9 of the 10 internet giants in the world, 80% of the world’s banking transactions, three of the largest pharmaceutical companies. Thales solutions are deployed in 50 countries, including 27 NATO countries.

We are active in all sections of cybersecurity and provide end-to-end solutions, wherever high grade security matters. With all our expertise, solutions and references, we are ready to support Turkey’s cybersecurity efforts specifically in managed security services, deployment of security operation centers, CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) infrastructures, cloud computing, trust management, data protection, mobile security and big data. Secondly, Thales, a global technology leader, devoted more than € 743 million to self-funded R&D in 2016. We are also ready to co-develop next generation products for Turkey’s cybersecurity future. 

Defence Turkey: Could you inform us about your Air Defense capabilities? 

The world of Air Defense is an increasingly complex environment to manage, with conventional and unconventional threats, it is a global concern for armed forces, nations, governments and citizens. 

At Thales, we produce radar equipment and Command & Control systems to help forces detect, orient, decide and act to neutralize threats. 

Our highly mobile and deployable missile systems such as Crotale, MMS and GM radars demonstrate our world leading network capacity for complex system design and integration. 

This capacity extends to mission planning and tasking capabilities and also cyber security innovations through Thales. 

Best in class, Thales Global Air Defense key decision makers master complexity and make timely decisions for better outcomes and a safer world.

Thales is the only company in Europe able to deliver a fully integrated air defense capability, from radars and C2 centers to effectors and their respective fire control systems. Thales has developed, manufactured and supported best-in-class air defense systems for customers worldwide for more than 40 years. Hundreds of air defense radars have been sold to 26 countries. Thales is also the world’s leading supplier of integrated weapon systems, with more than 450 mobile, integrated systems in service with customers throughout the world.

Its solutions include the STARStreak system, integrated on a wide range of armored vehicle platforms. Thales’s innovations in open systems architecture are behind the development of the RAPID range of mobile integrated weapon systems, which combine sophisticated sensors, fire control software, latest-generation human-machine interfaces and a wide range of weapons, including missiles, guns and directed-energy weapons.

Defence Turkey: Could you please inform us about your R&D programs and new technologies?

Innovation is nothing new at Thales. It has always been at the heart of the Group’s strategy and R&T remains crucial to our success today and into the future. We invest heavily in innovation: more than 25,000 Thales employees are directly involved in research and technology, which accounted for 743 million euros in self-funded R&D in 2016.

Turkey increasingly supports and invests in R&D. We have established very good relations with Turkish Universities and the research community. We will mutually provide R&T interest domains and topics. In case of any matching domain, we will have further discussions to explore the possibility for co-developments.

Defence Turkey: Within the framework of your offset obligations in Turkey, what are the activities that you have carried out with Turkish SMEs and supporting industries? 

We have a long track record of initiating long-term partnerships with Turkish industry to generate offset credits. 

Over 15 Turkish companies, from large industrials to SMEs are involved in the implementation of our offsets, performing a wide range of activities from software development to manufacturing. We very much welcome the chance to extend this successful cooperation.

Defence Turkey: Finally do you have some remarks for our readers?    

The clear aim of the Turkish Government is to become a high technology economy. We are ready to strongly support this vision through technological cooperation with our Turkish partners. Our strategy is to address local and export markets with Turkish industry. Thales has a broad product and technology portfolio in the defense sector. Therefore, we firmly believe we are an ideal partner for Turkey