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Interview

MILMAST – Designing Advanced Engineering in Telescopic Lifting Systems, on Track to Become a Global Brand

Established in 2015 as a brand of Figes to focus on telescopic lifting system (Mast) technologies, which were not available in Turkey at that time, MILMAST Telescopic Lifting Systems is specialized in the design and manufacturing of Mast systems featuring a patented locking system and a very low nested height. Today the company’s product range includes FTM, FHM and FOM series Mast systems made of electro-mechanical carbon fiber material with an extended height of between 3-20 meters and can be used for many fields both in military and civil services. At the IDEX 2019 Exhibition, Defence Turkey talked with Yasin TÜR, MILMAST Sales Manager & Co-Founder, to get firsthand information on MILMAST’s participation at IDEX, the company’s product range and ongoing programs both in Turkey and in the region

Defence Turkey: What would you like to say about your participation in IDEX 2019? What can you share about the products you exhibited at the event?

Yasin TÜR: We attended the IDEX Exhibition with a last-minute decision. Our booth was in the German Pavilion. The first impressions of the visitors were better than we expected. Honestly, we didn’t expect such good feedback and the number of visitors. The companies and individuals who are interested in this subject came here and met with us, and we had the opportunity to show ourselves. Company-level meetings were fruitful; however, we did not find what we expected from the delegation-level meetings. We exhibited our standard FTM series Masts with a patented lock safety system, as well as our new series of products. We take the FTM series to every event we participate in. This product became the primary choice for especially Aselsan led projects in Turkey. Recently, we have launched our new FOM Mast series for the Main Battle Tanks. The system is designed as a compact solution for companies that want to install a mast on platforms with limited space. The product that we brought to IDEX as a mock-up has a nested height of 70cm and an extended height of 2,5m. The FOM series masts with 150kg and 250kg payload capacity have three different types that can extend from 92cm to 4 meters and from 1,2m to 6 meters. You can use the same payloads that we use on our FTM series with FOM series Masts as well. The FOM series is only preferred if the user has limited space. It is smaller than the FTM series and has a different mechanical structure design. We created this system by considering the more specific design requirements. 

Defence Turkey: Where will you install the FOM series Masts on the MBTs?

Yasin TÜR: We install the mast on the tank turret. They want the mast to face the same direction with the turret when it is rotated. We are still working on this design. The product prototype will become ready within one month, we have built a mock-up, verified the design of this product, and passed all the processes successfully.

Defence Turkey: One of the images Aselsan shared during the FIRAT-M60T Project signing ceremony shows a Mast system on the tank. Was that your product?

Yasin TÜR: No, it is not ours. We know that the existing system is procured from abroad. With this project, we have actually provided an indigenous alternative to that system. In the future, we will participate in domestic and international tank modernization projects with this product. It is still in the prototype stage, but we continue our efforts for the production. We have successfully completed the design phase and requirements analysis. The qualification process of the system is still ongoing. 

Defence Turkey: Did you start the localization activities for the aforementioned mast with your own initiative or was it a request from the user?

Yasin TÜR: This request came from Aselsan, but we were already following the requirements in the project. We are the leading company in the market now and we continue our efforts in this direction. We focus on the needs and closely follow the procurement process. Eventually, we set out to provide a successful solution and introduced this product.

Defence Turkey: Will it be unveiled at IDEF ‘19?

Yasin TÜR: We will unveil this product at IDEF ‘19. We are planning to demonstrate the system on a vehicle. We are still working on it.   

Defence Turkey: Can you share some information with us about the FTM Series Masts?

Yasin TÜR: FTM series Masts are one of our first products that can extend from 3m to 15 meters. This series became very well-known in projects. In total, we have delivered more than 200 of them. While we supply a significant part of them to Aselsan, we deliver the system to other domestic companies as well.

Defence Turkey: Will you supply the masts for the three Pedestal-Mounted CİRİT (PMC) System ordered under the contract signed between Roketsan and Turkish Land Forces Command?

Yasin TÜR: Yes, we will supply the masts in that project, we are currently waiting for the orders. We will provide the same series (FTM). We concluded our studies and successfully completed the field tests. At that time, it was not clear whether the carrier platform will be tracked or wheeled. We carried out our tests on a tracked vehicle.

Defence Turkey: Is there any difference between the tracked and wheeled platforms regarding the Mast performance?

Yasin TÜR: Tracked vehicles lead to higher vibration. Wheeled vehicles don’t have this problem. With the PMC Project, we also started working with Roketsan.

Defence Turkey: Under a contract signed with Qatar Armed Forces, 1 set of shelter-based Border Security System with Aselsan’s design and production sensor systems and security management software was delivered in 2018. Did you take part in this project with your Mast systems?

Yasin TÜR: The masts used in the project were not ours. As far as I know, our products were not ready at the time when the contract was signed. We were in the qualification process.

Defence Turkey: What would you like to say about the new FHM series Masts that you just added to your product range?

Yasin TÜR: The FHM series can carry lighter payloads compared to the FTM series. These Masts can carry up to 50kg of payload (recommended 25-30kg). FHM series Masts are designed to be used for more light-weight operations. We have completed the qualification process for this product. Similar to the FTM series, FHM Masts have also a nested height of 3m and an extended height of 15 meters. Thus, it becomes a cost-effective solution that is not over-designed. The FTM series masts are excessively large to carry lighter payloads. We have provided a clever solution for this requirement with the FHM series Masts. 

Defence Turkey: Are  you involved in the TASMUS (Tactical Area Communications System) Project, which Aselsan sold to Azerbaijan?

Yasin TÜR: We continue our studies on the TASMUS project. It’s not exactly clear yet, but we’re working in the background currently. The first party delivered does not include our masts however the second party will probably be equipped with our system. Our products are currently in the design phase. The project calls for some additional requirements and we continue our work to meet them.

Defence Turkey: Could you inform us about the fairs you will participate in the future as part of your 2019 exhibition planning?

Yasin TÜR: We aim to participate in both national and international exhibitions. Following the IDEX exhibition in Abu Dhabi, we attended the LAAD Fair in Brazil. After that, there is the IDEF ‘19 Fair. This year we will also participate in the MSPO Exhibition in Poland and the Gulf Defence & Aerospace (GDA) Exhibition in Kuwait.

Defence Turkey: Can you share with us the figures regarding the turnover and export of MILMAST in 2018?

Yasin TÜR: At present, 80% of our orders came from domestic companies, 75% from Aselsan and 5% from other automotive companies. Only, 20% of our orders come from abroad. The reason is, foreign customers have additional requirements that needed to be tested, so the deliveries take time. For example, we received an order of 1 + 100 units from Korea. In this context, we have delivered the first system and also signed a pre-contract for 100 pieces. The project was launched about 1.5 years ago, and the studies on the mast carrying vehicle are still ongoing. The mast system to be delivered will be equipped with electro-optical systems for reconnaissance and surveillance. There is no problem with the mast, but there is still a delay due to the change of the vehicle requirements on the end-user side.

Defence Turkey: Will Aselsan SARP-L (approx. 80kg without armor and ammunition) and SARP Dual (approx. 290kg without armor and ammunition) Remote Controlled Stabilized Weapon Systems be mounted on your Mast product?

Yasin TÜR: These systems will be mounted on FTM series masts. The recoil of the weapon system is the most important issue here. Therefore, we are working on a specific product that can withstand the recoil force of the SARP-L/Dual (approx. 350-400kg) system. The new product can be used on both fixed positions and vehicles, especially during border security missions. We are planning to exhibit our new product at IDEF ‘19.

Defence Turkey: What are the differences between the new product and the other series Masts?

Yasin TÜR: There is a difference in the material used which means the new mast will probably have a maximum height of 4 meters. The recoil force will not allow a higher mast system as it will be too unstable. We aim to manufacture the new product with carbon fiber composite materials again. However, if the analysis results show us that we can manufacture a more stable product with aluminum, then we will switch to different materials. The analysis studies are currently underway.

Defence Turkey: Will the cables pass through the Mast when a system is mounted on it?

Yasin TÜR: The cables won’t be inside the mast; they will be wrapped around the mast body from the outside in the form of a spring. There are different formats and projects abroad like this. We aim to achieve it in Turkey.

Defence Turkey: Will your new Mast system provide fire-on-the-move capability or will it only allow the user to shoot from a stationary position?

Yasin TÜR: Truly, our first goal is to manufacture a product that will allow the user to shoot from a stationary position. After that, we aim to further develop this product.  

Defence Turkey: Which products will you exhibit at IDEF‘19 ? What would you like to say about the products that will be introduced for the first time?

Yasin TÜR: You will have the opportunity to examine all our products at IDEF ‘19. We plan to display all the FTM, FOM, FHM series, as well as the new trailer with an automatic leveling system which will be introduced for the first time at IDEF.

Defence Turkey: Yasin TÜR, is there a message that you would like to convey to our readers?

Yasin TÜR: In fact, we are moving towards becoming a global brand. We are trying to establish business partnerships. In addition, we have opened representative offices in France and Russia. Every week, we conduct remote meetings with them and receive information about current projects and programs. I believe we will receive good news from these countries in the future