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The Chairman of the Aselsan Board & CEO - Prof. Haluk Görgün Meet up with Media Representatives in Ankara

Established in 1975 to fulfill the communication requirements of the Turkish Armed Forces through national and indigenous products, Aselsan has climbed to the 57th rank on the list of the World’s greatest 100 defense industry companies. In the 43th year of its foundation, while strengthening its position in the international arena and exporting the products it has developed to more than 60 countries, Aselsan continues to build upon their success stories with its achievements in 2018

Aselsan’s Chairman of the Board and CEO Prof. Haluk Görgün gathered with the representatives of daily newspapers and defense magazines in Ankara. He appointed as an Aselsan Board Member in 2017 when he was the President of Gebze Technical University and then assigned as the Chairman in the beginning of April 2018 and also as the CEO of the company on April 27th, 2018.

Informing the media representatives on Aselsan’s 2017 financial performance, its planned investments and projections for the future, Prof. Görgün stated that where Aselsan’s gross income was 923 million TL in 2016, it reached 1.355 million TL in 2017 and added that company’s net profit increased to 1.388 million TL while they broke a record in the backlogs. Expressing that Aselsan’s orders in 2017 reached the level of $6.8 billion, Prof. Görgün continued: “Maintaining its activities for a ‘Stronger Turkey’, Aselsan became the most essential address of national, domestic, indigenous and reliable technology with the activities and investments it launched. Maintaining its activities with the mission of minimizing the foreign dependency of the Turkish Armed Forces and our devoted security forces, with its products Aselsan became a brand preferred not only in the domestic market but also in the international arena. In 2017, Aselsan made sales in the level of 5.4 billion TL and increased its backlogs to $6.8 billion ($2.143 billion of them were from new orders). The company’s turnover of 2017 reached 5.360 million TL and Aselsan realized 52 percent of its sales to Turkish Armed Forces (TAF), 33 percent to private institutions / other institutional customers and 15 percent of its sales have been exports. Achieving a critical business potential enabling growth for 2018 through the orders it received, Aselsan has made its mark in crucial investments in the area of R&D. The R&D expenses of the company were 1.243 million TL in 2016 and it reached 1.675 million TL in 2017. Conducting 33 percent of the defense industry’s R&D in Turkey, Aselsan is in the position to accomplish the highest expenditures for R&D in Turkey”.

Aselsan Aims to Utilize its Affiliates in Foreign Countries More Effectively in 2018 

In the meeting, Prof. Görgün relayed critical information on Aselsan’s international investments and export figures and added, “With its wide variety of products, conducting exports to more than 60 countries in 5 continents since its establishment, its direct investments with production infrastructures in 6 countries, its active participation in joint research/ development/ production programs with the NATO and its reinforced high production quality, our company is active in a wider geography and more diverse areas of activity. In line with its growth strategy in the recent years based on indigenous products, Aselsan left the image of an internally growing company and transformed into a company that establishes affiliates at home and abroad or one that becomes partners with major companies. Aselsan established factories where it manufactures its indigenous products and thus sells them to neighboring countries. Aselsan owns 100 percent of the shares of the factory in Azerbaijan, 49 or 50 percent of the shares of such factories in the UAE, Jordan, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia. Aselsan owns branch offices in South Africa and Macedonia and has a company titled Aselsan Malaysian in Malaysia. Moreover, Aselsan owns 85 percent of the shares of a company executing microelectronic design in Istanbul. We are determined to develop our relations further with the countries of Middle East being in the first place, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Caspian Region, Asia and Pacific and carry the Aselsan brand and products to the front row in worldwide selections.”

Stating that they do not prefer setting restrictive targets in exports, Prof. Görgün said, “Last year we obtained 15 percent of our turnover from exports and achieved $215 million in exports. There is a significant increase compared to the year before. We attach great importance to export revenues. We will be following this process closely with our Board and Steering Committee delegations. Our Board Members will be more active from now on. We made a distribution of tasks here and we will be firmly following the exports. Upon the public offering of Aselsan’s shares in June, we will be visiting our affiliates in foreign countries. We will be examining the ways of developing the existing potential in these countries further and ways of growing our existence. We will increase our technical support to the countries in which we have assets or which we conduct export activities and we will adopt an approach that provides more support from the center. You will witness the crucial increase of our export in 2018 yet at this point I would like to state that we do not wish to set restrictive targets for our company. We plan to reach all points available.”

Aselsan Allocating Most to R&D From its Own Resources 

Noting that Aselsan’s most critical power is the company’s qualified staff, Prof. Haluk Görgün added, “Of our company with 6 thousand staff, over 58 percent is composed of engineers. 35 percent of our employees have either postgraduate or PhD degrees. Over 3.000 R&D engineers are working at our 6 R&D centers. We conducted 117 R&D projects with 30 universities in 2017. Moreover, the Aselsan Academy Postgraduate Training Program, launched for generating a solution with an innovative approach to the development of technology and know-how through the thesis studies in areas in which an industrial institution is active, is fulfilling a critical function. With the launch of the Aselsan Academy our premises have turned into a campus.”

Prof. Görgün said that Aselsan, allocating 7 percent of its turnover to R&D each year, remaining at the top of the list at R&D expenses, became a technology company that is capable of conducting design and production of the materials having details in nanometer dimensions, able to design and manufacture devices and systems for all types of land, air, naval and space vehicles and capable of integrating these devices and systems to all types of platforms as a result of the technology development activities it conducted and continued: “Aselsan has also been exerting efforts for the utilization of the technologies it created in addition to the defense industry area. Aselsan continues its activities in transportation, energy, security and healthcare electronics as well. In this way, our company wishes to minimize Turkey’s technological foreign dependency also except for the defense industry area and contribute to the efforts to reduce the current deficit issue of the country through enabling the production of cutting edge technology products with high added value.”

Stating that they adopted a decision for using a quite wide area at Gölbaşı as a single center Prof. Görgün added, “Our production lines will be completely transferred to that location in time. I think we may start within three years. Gölbaşı will be our sole center”.

Prof. Görgün: “We plan a Road Show abroad prior to the public offering” 

Replying to questions from the media during the Q&A session, Prof. Görgün underlined that they will be executing the second public offering in June 2018 and continued: “Within June we will have completed the second public offering process. Within this scope, we plan to conduct a Road Show aiming to attract foreign investors to our country, and between May 25 and June 5 we will be conducting approximately 60 meetings within 10 days.” 

Upon the question regarding whether they plan to make changes on industrial departments and organizational changes Prof. Görgün stated that their primary approach is to increase exports and produce critical products through national resources adding that they do not think of such organizational changes for the time being. 

Replying to a question regarding the Aselsan Academy Prof. Görgün said, “In Aselsan, presently our 1.000 employees are taking courses in different universities for their postgraduate and PhD degrees. We enable each staff 17 hours a week to attend these programs. We allow our 1.000 employees for these courses for a total of 17.000 hours per week. Most of these employees who received postgraduate and PhD training in various universities were employed in programs that did not really bring any advantages to our institution except for the projects they work on at Aselsan. Upon the consent and permission of our Board, we conducted various activities to this end with our Board Members and we established the Aselsan Academy in line with a formation that would be approved by the Council of Higher Education. We launched this degree program composed of four universities including the Gazi University and Middle East Technical University from Ankara, Gebze Technical University and Istanbul Technical University from Istanbul. With the help of this program our engineers selected one of these four universities for their postgraduate or PhD studies while meeting the acceptance conditions of these universities and selected their courses from a joint course pool created by all these universities and started their postgraduate and PhD studies. Presently over 200 Aselsan employees are registered in these programs. Aselsan turned into a campus now and our loss of time has been reduced. We made a transition into a new era regarding the cooperation between university and industry. As a result, academicians have started to gain more experience in defense industry projects.”

Regarding a question about whether there is brain-drain from Turkey in recently, Prof. Haluk Görgün stated that there is such a case now and added that measures should be adopted to prevent such brain-drains in the future. Prof. Görgün continued, “Transfer of the staff trained in the Defense Industry and that have worked on critical programs to foreign countries should be prevented. A national measure should be taken to this end. On the other hand, certain activities toward attracting valuable staff employed abroad to our country and our institution are being executed. Our human resources department has been executing critical activities regarding reverse brain drain. We have incorporated over 100 valuable staff into our institution with the help of such activities during this period.”

Following the meeting, a brief information tour was realized at the Macunköy facilities of Aselsan for the members of the press accompanied by Aselsan’s Deputy Chairman Mustafa Kaval. 

SARP RCWS – Being Utilized by 16 countries 

During the tour, Aselsan’s Deputy Chairman Mustafa Kaval initially shared up to date information on the SARP Remote Control Stabilized Weapon System (RCWS) with media representatives. Sharing that the indigenous SARP RCWS system developed by Aselsan became a standard remote control stabilized weapon system in Otokar’s “Cobra”, Nurol Makina’s “Ejder Yalçın” and BMC’s “Kirpi” armored vehicles. Kaval continued: “We are capable of manufacturing 7 SARP RCWS per day and approximately 150 SARP systems are being produced in a month. As of today, we manufactured 1.453 SARP RCWS. During these production periods we are closely monitoring our sub-contractors. We diversified our sub-contractors and we are having the same products manufactured by different suppliers in order to enable the substitution in cases of failures. I would like to state that we have been exerting utmost efforts in order to meet the demands. SARP RCWS could be utilized with one of the 7,62mm machine gun, 12,7mm machine gun and 40mm grenade launcher weapon alternatives. There is a dual weapon in the SARP dual configuration that carries 7,62mm machine gun and one of the other weapon systems I mentioned previously. The firing tests of the new version developed in line with the demands from abroad still continue. Here, the SARP RCWS system is capable of carrying two anti-tank missiles additionally. On the other hand, we successfully integrated the weapon systems of both NATO and Russia origin to the SARP RCWS. With its competitive price, currently 16 countries are using these systems.”

Underlining that Aselsan’s 120mm automatic loaded Mortar, automatic air system was presently being installed to BMC’s armored vehicle, Kaval noted that this vehicle will be a system that will be utilized effectively especially in the struggle against terrorism and the asymmetrical battle environment. 

AHS-120 Aselsan 120 mm Mortar System 

AHS-120 Aselsan 120 mm Mortar System, originally designed entirely by Aselsan including sub-systems, is a modern weapon system integrated on a turret equipped with Automatic Barrel Lying System, Automatic Ammunition Loading System, Recoil Mechanism and Fire Control Systems.

Considering today’s increasing demand for automation of mortar systems, AHS-120, like other Aselsan’s weapon systems, is predicted to have a significant share in both domestic and foreign markets. Due to the modular system architecture, system can be integrated to tracked or tactical wheeled platforms as well as stationary platforms. At the same time, modular system architecture enables the integration of any kind of domestic / foreign rifled or smoothbore mortar barrel.

Recoil Mechanism, originally developed by Aselsan engineers, reduces the force transferred to the platform during shooting. This feature increases the variety and number of platforms that system can be integrated.

Automatic Ammunition Loading System, originally developed for AHS-120, provides precise, fast and safe loading of ammunition.

Advanced Fire Control System Technology, Automatic Barrel Lying, Automatic Ammunition Loading and Muzzle Velocity Management features enables performing the fire mission in the shortest time, achieving desired effect on target most effectively with minimum amount of ammunition and quick deployment.

While vehicle is moving, to show the position and direction information provided by the Inertial Navigation System located in AHS-120 on the Driver and Shooter Display Units provides driver to follow the planned route. Thanks to the precise position and orientation information provided by the Inertial Navigation System, the system is deployed in a very short time and ready for shooting.

While providing a mission-oriented, menu driven colored graphical user interface, system allows display of battlefield information on a digital map.

Mustafa Kaval: “Aselsan concentrated on Smart Ammunition” 

Underlining that Aselsan has been conducting indigenous activities on ATOM 35mm airburst ammunition as well Kaval added that installing automatically the explosion time to the 35mm airburst ammunition beforehand is possible and continued: “We are able to identify in how many seconds the smart ammunition will explode without liasing with the ammunition, with the help of the data provided by the fire control system as the smart ammunition is fired. This ammunition is airburst right before the target and as the particles are spilled out the target is nullified. This system could be utilized for destroying the missile systems and rocket systems launched from aircrafts and unmanned air vehicles. We have almost accomplished the development activities for the 40mm grenade launcher version of this smart ammunition as well. The qualification tests are about to be completed and we finished our own tests.”

Stating that they are conducting activities on the New Generation Fırtına-2 Self-Propelled Howitzer System as well, Kaval told that they developed a national system through the Fırtına-2 program that is more precise and reacts more rapidly, Kaval said, “We acquired additional capabilities to the Fırtına Howitzers by adding automatic munitions loading, climatization of the internal ammunition and conditioning systems. Besides, we integrated the SARP RCWS over the new generation Fırtına-2 Howitzers.” 

Kaval stated that they gained certain additional capabilities to the M60T Main Battle Tanks which were modernized previously within the scope of the modernization of M60T tanks and continued: “We gained these tanks the 360-degree surveillance system, missile warning system, SARP RCWS, smoke grenade launchers and enhanced armor capability. We still carry out the integration activities of the AKKOR Pulat Active Protection System (APS). We realized the firing tests of this system and by the end of this summer we will have integrated the AKKOR Pulat APS systems to these tanks. AKKOR Pulat APS does not have a mobile launcher structure, it is fixed, and it is located at six different points of the tank and every launcher has a coverage zone and visual angle. The ATGM or RPGs to be launched to the tank thanks to the sensor named as trigger radar is identified by these launchers and counterfire is made automatically within milliseconds and anti-tank ammunition is destroyed.”

AKKOR Pulat APS will be Integrated to M60T Fırat Tanks 

 Within the scope of the AKKOR Pulat APS project that was initiated on 28 June 2017 by the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries for fulfilling the urgent requirements, emerging in the aftermath of Operation Euphrates Shield  the tanks within the inventory of the Turkish Armed Forces were hit with the anti-tank guided missiles and rocket threats.  To prevent casualties M60T Fırat tanks were utilized with their active protection systems, capabilities realized through the know-how accumulated in the AKKOR APS with was developed indigenously by Aselsan. 

According to the scheme published in March via the official twitter account of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, firing tests with trigger radars were realized in February 2018 and successful results were achieved during these tests. The system successfully passed the firing tests conducted against various anti-tank guided missiles in March as well. Upon the completion of these tests, the first delivery is aimed to be conducted at the end of 2018 summer after the completion of the qualification and the system is aimed to be integrated to the modernized M60T Fırat tanks. 

AKKOR Pulat APS is composed of 3 components namely the control board, power distribution unit and counter measure module. High technology trigger radar and counter measure ammunition are installed over the counter measure module. AKKOR Pulat APS has a rather constant structure compared with the AKKOR system developed uniquely by Aselsan and it provides 360 degrees of protection to the tank thanks to 6 launchers placed over the tank in 60-degree angles. With the help of the trigger radar and sensor over the launchers, AKKOR Pulat APS is capable of sensing multiple threats and destroying them with hard-kill method. In addition to the anti-tank guided missiles, the system provides high protection against the missiles fired at a close range. 

Underlining that the AKKOR APS that is being developed indigenously by Aselsan will also be utilized at the “Altay” Main Battle Tank, Kaval stated that AKKOR APS is a mobile system different that the AKKOR Pulat APS and continued: “It has detection radars capable of identifying threats within 360 degrees. These detection radars direct the launchers over the tank towards the direction of the threat and enable the destruction of the missile within milliseconds. Upon the completion of the qualification activities, we aim to utilize the AKKOR APS in “Altay” MBT in 2020.”

Aselsan AKKOR Active Protection System will be Utilized in Altay MBTs in 2020 

Aselsan initiated development of the AKKOR APS with its own resources in 2008. The tests, where radar, central computer and hard-kill ammunition of the system were tested and successfully completed in 2010.

The preliminary design process (PDR) of the AKKOR system which is decided to be officially utilized at the “Altay” MBT with a contract signed between SSM and Aselsan on 30 November 2015 for using the unique and national active protection system in the “Altay” MBT was completed on 19-20 January 2017. In the program where the critical design meeting was executed on 25 December 2017, the prototype production and field tests were planned to be made in 2018 and in the verification firing tests and extended mobile firing tests will be conducted in 2019. Following the completion of the test and qualification processes, AKKOR APS is aimed to be rendered available for mass production and integrated to the “Altay” Main Battle Tanks. 

AKKOR system, that will increase the survivability of the “Altay” MBT against the anti-tank missiles and rockets, will have both hard-kill and soft-kill capabilities. With the help of the very high resolution hard-kill radar located at four points of the tank that provides a full 360 degrees of full horizontal protection and tank laser warning system. The tank is capable of rapid reaction to the threats and the smart protection ammunition fired through the mobile hard-kill ammunition launchers that are placed at both sides of the tank allow for the capability to engage different targets and capacity to destroy the target by exploding at an optimum distance due to the smart fuse.