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Interview

Defense Industry Integration and Interoperability Call for Joint Developments, Building on Strong Mediterranean Traditions and Ties Between Spain & Turkey

Admiral GOMEZ: “Spain and Turkey, both NATO members, are already cooperating within the Alliance and, in this regard, the deployment of the Spanish PATRIOT battery in Adana, close to the border between Turkey and Syria, is worth noting. "

Issue 106

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ Spanish Directorate of Defense Industries/National Armament Director (NAD) of Spain talks with Defence Turkey magazine about upcoming bilateral meetings, identifying potential areas of cooperation, particularly in the naval and air sectors, in which both countries are already involved and have many common interests. As mutually beneficial shared projects are further consolidated, the use of joint procedures for training, maintenance and doctrine are possible. The future is promising for these two countries as Spain maintains its support of Turkey’s European perspective and will work to find areas for dialogue in the Eastern Mediterranean, where stable and continuous cooperation is necessary.

Defence Turkey: As the National Armament Director of Spain how would you explain your job and official duties? How would you sum up your role?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: The General Directorate for Armament and Material (DGAM) is the management body responsible for planning and developing the Department’s armament and material policy, and for supervising and managing its execution. 

As Director my role involves three main tasks. The first one is to ensure that the needs of the Armed Forces are met by providing them with the best weapon systems and equipment available from State resources. The second task involves contributing to the configuration of an industrial policy that enables the Defense Technological and Industrial Base to be strengthened, ensuring the industrial capabilities of interest to national Defense and also boosting internationalization. Last, but not least, the management of Defense RDI, which is coordinated with the other strategies and research and development plans from the rest of the public administration. To this end, I can count on an exclusive group of experts in these areas, helping me as Director to carry out my job smoothly on a daily basis.

Defence Turkey: Could you please provide some key facts about the Spanish Directorate of Defense Industries? Could you elaborate on the structure, responsibilities and number of personnel working at the Directorate?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: The Ministry of Defense does not have a Directorate of Defense Industries per se. The General Directorate for Armament and Material (DGAM) is responsible for exercising the necessary competencies to manage industrial cooperation aimed at boosting the development of a defense technological and industrial base in national territory, which is effective and competitive in the international market and also enhances industrial capabilities and areas of knowledge that affect the basic interests of defense and national security.

With a staff of over 600 people, the General Directorate for Armament and Material forms part of the State Secretariat for Defense. For the fulfillment of the assigned missions, and the development of the necessary specific policies, DGAM is organized into five General Sub-directorates as follows: Planning, Technology and Innovation; Program Management; International Relations; Inspection, Regulations and Defense Industrial Strategy; Armament and Material Acquisitions.

Defence Turkey: What can you tell us about Spanish defense procurement process? It seems that Spain undertakes defense procurement through a separate government organization as in Turkey.

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: The procurement process for material resources is key to satisfying the needs of the Defense Policy objective and is closely linked to the material resources planning process. In Spain, both processes are regulated by instructions from the State Secretariat for Defense; the entire process is carried out within the boundaries of the Ministry of Defense and centered mainly in the General Directorate for Armament and Material. 

Defence Turkey: Decision making about arms procurement and deployment is a political process. Can you elaborate on the decision making (bidder and product selection) process that is applied in defense tenders/procurements in Spain?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: As mentioned previously, the procurement process for material resources is regulated by Instruction of the State Secretariat for Defense. This process includes the following phases: Conceptual; Definition and decision; Execution; and Service. 

During the execution phase the competent procurement bodies process and approve the procurement files, the negotiations which, as applicable, must be entered into by the companies, the awarding of the contracts, the control of their execution and all other actions that determine the terms and conditions of the aforementioned contracts and the applicable legislation, both Spanish and European.

Defence Turkey: What can you tell us about the national defense policy of Spain? What is the biggest threat to Spain and the number one security risk facing the country?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: The overall goal of Spain’s Defense Policy is to contribute to the maintenance of security and the rights and freedoms of the Spanish people, as guaranteed by the Constitution, and to peace, stability and the protection of national interests abroad, in accordance with the provisions of the Organic Law on National Defense and the guidelines of the National Defense Directive, issued by the Prime Minister.

Spain is concerned about the current situation, which is deeply marked by the tragic global health crisis and its social and economic consequences. Moreover, conditioned by its unique geostrategic position, Spain faces its own risks and threats which it must address through the promotion of an active defense policy, thereby allowing us to maintain our influence in the international arena and, at the same time, contribute with our allies, to peace and stability in society as a whole.

Defence Turkey: Can you elaborate on the constitutional task of the Spanish Armed Forces?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: The Spanish Constitution assigns the Armed Forces the mission of guaranteeing the sovereignty and independence of Spain, defending its territorial integrity and constitutional order. One of the main characteristics of the Armed Forces is therefore our willingness to serve society, always ready to act wherever we are needed.

Defence Turkey: Can we get an assessment of 2020 from the Spanish Directorate of Defense Industries' perspective? Could you please summarize the highlighted efforts of the Directorate within 2020?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: In 2020 the DGAM’s activity was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as was the case for other public administrations and companies worldwide. Despite the foregoing, and on a positive note, we can say that in 2020 a distinct impetus was given to the DGAM’s evolution in fundamental aspects to maintain activity during the crisis, such as digital transformation, knowledge management, organizational management by processes and teleworking, among others.

To be more specific, in 2020 we can highlight the publication of a new Defense Technology and Innovation Strategy, as well as the preparation of several reports, such as the report on the impact of COVID-19 in the industrial sector of defense and security, or the Report of the Defense Industry in Spain (2018), the creation and implementation of the Airworthiness Support Division, the implementation of a Quality Management System to manage procurement programs or the work on the review and improvement of armament and material procurement processes.

Defence Turkey: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused huge global disruption on critical defense operations and programs. How were defense and security procurements conducted by the Spanish Directorate of Defense Industries in the context of COVID during 2020?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ:  Procurements were made adjusting procedures to the new circumstances, so as to minimize as far as possible, any adverse economic effects of the pandemic in our sphere of competence. For this purpose, legal measures were implemented which, as in the case of the extraordinary urgent measures implemented by the Government to cope with the social and economic impact of COVID-19, proved extremely useful to lay the foundations for recovery.

Defence Turkey: What can you tell us about Spain’s 2021 defense budget? Considering the fact, that as a NATO member Spain has pledged to allocate 2% of its GDP to fund defense spending, do you see Spanish defense spending increasing during coming years?  

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ:  Undoubtedly, the impact of COVID-19 on the economy on a global level and the budgetary capacity of countries means that budgets will have to be adapted to the new circumstances. Despite this, the commitments undertaken by Spain in this or in any other areas will be met in same way as they have been in the past.

The budgetary effort envisaged by the Government for 2021 increases the allocation to the Ministry of Defense by 4.6%, with a view to maintaining the viability of ongoing projects and tackling new ones, to guarantee the continuous upgrading and modernization of defense systems, and to boost employment and ensure that companies are able to invest in and contribute to Spain's economic recovery.

Efficiently harnessing this budgetary effort, which should provide an impetus to the recovery of the defense industry, will require intensification of the coordination between the public and private sectors; in particular, the defense industry’s adaptation will need to be supported and the new scenario created by the pandemic will need to be taken into account.

Defence Turkey: How burdensome is the strong military development for Spain? What are the long-term ideas in the field of military development?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ:  The national budget for 2021 allocates financial resources to the specific concept of “Research and studies for the Armed Forces” with a view to funding Ministry of Defense R&D contracts developed by the national defense technological and industrial base. 

Where long-term ideas for military development are concerned, we will continue with military development geared toward the achievement of the “Long-term Force Objective”, together with the technological trends we have detected through our technology watch and foresight system. The result of this analysis will be transferred to the Defense Technology and Innovation Strategy (ETID), updated approximately every five years and carried out in liaison with the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy, which is coordinated by the Ministry of Science and Innovation for the entire public administration. The recently published edition of the ETID (2020) describes some of these long-term trends of interest to us, such as quantum technology (including communications, IT and sensors), electromagnetic propulsion, cognitive radar, complex robotic architecture, etc.

Defence Turkey: Can you list the most important procurement programs of the Spanish Directorate of Defense Industries and the envisaged time frame of realization?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: All of the programs managed in the DGAM are of great importance to the Armed Forces. Among the most important are special armament programs such as the VCR 8x8 (the first deliveries of which are foreseen for 2022), the NH-90 (the first deliveries of which have already been made), the F-110 (the delivery of the first frigate is envisaged for 2026), the S-80 (deliveries are expected to commence in 2023), and the Next-Generation Weapon System (NGWS) program in collaboration with France and Germany. All of these programs have a highly technological level of implementation, which undoubtedly makes them leading programs in the sector.

Defence Turkey:  Could you provide a capsule summary and the current status of deliveries in on-going major defense procurement projects? 

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: Taking into account the large number of contracts managed, it would take some time to summarize them. However, one common factor can be highlighted and that is that the execution of the programs and the contracts derived from them continues on course and according to plan, without any significant deviations, despite the exceptional circumstances we are going through due to the pandemic.

Defence Turkey: What is the domestic defense industry like at the moment? Can you provide some key facts about the Spanish Defense & Aerospace Industry for our readers? Are there both state-run and private companies in the Spanish Defense Industry Sector? 

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: The Spanish Defense Technological and Industrial Base (DTIB) is a primordial component in the procurement and maintenance of military capabilities that the Armed Forces require to accomplish the missions entrusted to them. The national defense industry currently has an annual turnover of over 6,000 million euros (M€), 4.38% of the gross domestic product of the Spanish manufacturing industry. It is also a key representative of technological innovation and creates qualified employment at national level.

The Ministry of Defense has 509 companies on the Register of Companies in the General Directorate for Armament and Material, of which 354 have supplied products or services in the defense field. The turnover for the defense industry has been 6,654 M€. International sales, including cooperative programs, amount to 84% of the business. The Defense industrial sector has created over 23,500 direct jobs, and another 57,000 indirect and induced jobs in activities exclusive to defense.

Regarding the shareholding structure of our defense industrial base, national private capital accounts for 84.7%, foreign private capital accounts for 13.6%, while public capital accounts for just 1.7%.

Defence Turkey: What can you tell us about Spain’s approach towards R&D efforts carried out to obtain technologies that are critical for the country’s defense. Can we hear your opinions regarding the financing of R&D?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: The specific concept of critical technologies for defense, including those affecting the main and complex challenges currently being faced by us is highly important and, therefore, widely covered in our R&D strategy. We endeavor to help our industry to obtain the technological capability necessary in these areas, including areas in which technological autonomy is especially relevant. This objective requires significant levels of investment and our strategy therefore envisages the establishment of synergies using the efforts of civilian research in the field of dual technologies.

Defence Turkey: How do you evaluate the current state of Spain-Turkey cooperation in the defense field? What do you think could be done to increase the level of this cooperation? What is you forecast for the future?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: Spain and Turkey, both NATO members, are already cooperating within the Alliance and, in this regard, the deployment of the Spanish PATRIOT battery in Adana, close to the border between Turkey and Syria, is worth noting. The countries also maintain close bilateral cooperation relations; regular meetings are held between the DGAM and the SSB, alternating between the two countries. These meetings are complemented by industrial seminars in which companies from the sectors of both countries participate. Seven of these meetings have already been held and we hope to hold the eighth one in 2021.

It is also worth mentioning that a Letter of Intent was signed between the Ministries of Defense of the two countries for industrial and technological cooperation in the area of defense, identifying potential areas of cooperation, which it is hoped will be developed in the coming bilateral meetings, particularly in the naval and air sectors, in which both countries are already involved and have many common interests. As these shared projects are further consolidated, the cooperation level will inevitably be raised to defense industry development and to the use of joint procedures for training, maintenance and doctrine.  The future could not be more promising for our countries, sharing as we do a strong Mediterranean tradition.

Defence Turkey: Is Spain interested in bolstering defense industry cooperation with Turkey? What are the biggest challenges on the way to full and open cooperation between the two countries?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: Spain has expressed its interest in reinforcing industrial cooperation with Turkey, as demonstrated by the naval and air projects that both countries are committed to. Specifically, with regards to the former, cooperation with Spanish industry in the construction of the LHD vessel Anadolu should be highlighted while, regarding the air sector, the membership of both countries in the procurement program for the A400M aircraft managed by OCCAR is noteworthy.

Therefore, regarding cooperation in the naval sector, the Spanish Ministry of Defense and the DGAM will continue to support NAVANTIA so that work in Turkey can continue to develop satisfactorily on the ongoing project, and on any future projects that may arise.

In the air domain, in addition to the A400M aircraft, it should be noted that Turkey currently owns the biggest fleet of the Spanish-manufactured CN-235 aircraft in service. Therefore, the modernization of these aircraft or the cooperation of Spain in the procurement of the C-295 aircraft and the A330 MRTT in-flight refueling aircraft constitute, without a doubt, are areas in which cooperation could be mutually beneficial.

The greatest challenges of industrial cooperation are probably to be found in the integration of systems and their necessary interoperability. 

There are also other areas in which, undoubtedly, cooperation could be beneficial such as, for example, quality assurance, collaboration in airworthiness or cooperation in the space and satellites domain.

Defence Turkey: Does Spain impose any embargo or sanctions in defense field to Turkey? Because according to President of Turkish Defense Industry (SSB) Ismail DEMIR Turkey has experienced embargo even in the A400M Program. And according news published on September 10, 2020 Spanish Parliament has ruled out the block sale of a total of 10 C-130H Hercules (4 transport, 5 KC-130 tanker and 1 in C-130-30 stretched version) transport and tanker aircraft of Spanish Air Force to Turkey in June 2020 so these aircraft were purchased by Peru and Uruguay.

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: In order to control international trade in defense material, all operations requested by companies are analyzed individually in great detail, applying national and European legislation, as well as the international treaties and agreements signed by Spain. In particular special attention is paid to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty and the European Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment within the EU.

Defence Turkey: What could Spain do for Turkey; and what could Turkey do for Spain in defense? Do you think that Turkish companies are encouraged enough to take part in the competition in Spain?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: As mentioned previously, the two countries, as members of the Alliance and sharing as they do a deep Mediterranean tradition, are also bound to interact in the defense industry. Currently, as is happening in the EU, any industrial development needs funds and technological know-how therefore must be carried out in a multilateral environment. Today, in the global market in which the defense industry plays out, it is not profitable, either technologically or economically, for one single nation to undertake a project. The concepts of integration and interoperability call for joint developments.

Defence Turkey: Do you expect any agreement or contract between Turkey and Spain in the field of defense in 2021? Is there any plan to hold a defense related official visit to Turkey in 2021?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: we plan to hold a new bilateral meeting in Istanbul, while attending the IDEF’21 international exhibition, and preparations are underway for this.

The Spanish Ministry of Defense is also expecting an official Turkish delegation to attend the FEINDEF’21 international defense and security exhibition from 3-5 November 2021 in Madrid, and we hope to see Turkish companies in attendance too. 

These two events will help foster cooperation in new programs or initiatives and ultimately that is what matters: cooperation.

Defence Turkey: What can you tell us about the Spanish Government and Spanish Defense Industry participation in IDEF ‘21 Exhibition to be held in August 2021?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: As mentioned in the previous point, a Spanish delegation from the General Directorate for Armament and Material will attend the IDEF’21 defense exhibition in Istanbul, where a bilateral meeting will also be held with the Turkish authorities from the SSB.

An attempt will also be made to hold an industrial forum within the framework of this bilateral meeting, with the participation of the Spanish and Turkish defense industries, in order to continue with the successful cooperation between our countries in the area of defense.

Several Spanish companies, such as the public shipbuilder, NAVANTIA, or the engineering firm, EMITE, will also have stands at the IDEF’21 fair.

Defence Turkey: Would you like to add anything in the way of a message for our readers?

Admiral Santiago Ramón GONZÁLEZ GÓMEZ: After this extensive questionnaire there is little, I can add except to reiterate that Turkey is a NATO ally and a strategic partner with which we share important interests. Spain maintains its support to Turkey’s European perspective and will work to find areas for dialogue in the Eastern Mediterranean, where stable and continuous cooperation is necessary. 

The current deployment of the Spanish PATRIOT unit in Turkish territory within the framework of the NATO Support to Turkey operation, the frequent visits, exercises and exchanges that are taking place between the Armed Forces of both countries, the current construction of the LHD Anadolu or the areas of mutual interest concerning the defense and security industries in both countries, are a clear example of the excellent relations that currently exist between us