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Interview

Sarsılmaz – Turkey’s Experts Producing the Highest Quality and Selection of Guns

In an Interview with the President of Sarsılmaz Silah Sanayi Latif Aral ALİŞ discusses the company’s scientific developments and innovations their focus on R&D. The company aims to manufacture the products that will best fulfill the demands and requirements foreseen in the global market. Sarsılmaz’s cumulative experience and know-how spans over 139 years, the only company in Turkey and in the world capable of manufacturing sports guns, pistols, shotguns and machine guns

Defence Turkey: Sarsılmaz Silah Sanayi A.Ş. has a deep-rooted history in manufacturing weapons and currently the company conducts the production of almost 100 types of guns in different sizes. Shall we start our interview with the Company’s 2018 performance figures? 

Latif Aral ALİŞ: We initiated our journey five generations ago with the flintlock, and in time we turned into an R&D industry capable of designing and manufacturing pistols, machine guns, shotguns and cannons. The number of our employees at Sarsılmaz and its affiliates is over 1,600. We have an outdoor area of 66,000 square meters and indoor area of 40,000 square meters at our factory established at the Düzce 1st Organized Industrial Zone (OIZ). Presently, we launched the construction of our additional facilities. Our investments in machinery and facilities are also under construction. Sarsılmaz is the first and sole R&D Company in the light weapon industry in our country certified by the Ministry of Industry and Technology.

As Sarsılmaz, from past to present, our main effort has been to fully fulfill our commitments regarding the projects assigned to our company by the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB). Within such a framework, our greatest aim is to direct the demands in light weapon sector, into local production, to indigenous products. To this end, we conduct our deliveries in a very intense manner and continue executing our projects. Without doubt, our exports will continue as well.

Defence Turkey: What are your comments on the existing infrastructure, production capacity (semi – automatic weapons, automatic weapons, infantry rifles and sports guns) and technologies utilized in the manufacturing plants of Sarsılmaz at Düzce OIZ; also on the company’s position within the light weapon industry in Turkey and in its users across the world? 

Latif Aral ALİŞ: We are the only company in Turkey and in the world capable of manufacturing sports guns, pistols, shotguns and machine guns. There are no other industrial enterprises with such a wide product range. Of course, a 139-year old organizational memory is the key factor at this point followed by a conscious and dedicated team, a staff trained in time. With the help of attaching importance to the business and loving what we do, we readily are able to reproduce products at the multi-axial CNC benches. We have the same level of technology with the major companies of the world. Furthermore, we have many advantages.

Defence Turkey: Could you please share Sarsılmaz’s vision, goals and predictions on the next 20 years with our readers?

Latif Aral ALİŞ: We aim to maintain our leadership in the light weapons industry and become a global design and production company with the most patents.

Defence Turkey: What are the features and superiorities of Sarsılmaz compared to its competitors in the market? 

Latif Aral ALİŞ: The experience of five generations and keeping up with technological innovations, the importance we attach to R&D and quality and our powerful engineering infrastructure have carried us to higher levels in the weapon industry.

Defence Turkey: Previously Sarsılmaz bought the Italian Vincenzo Bernardelli Weapon Factory in 1998 and became a critical player in Europe. Does your company plan to make similar take overs in the future?

Latif Aral ALİŞ: We do not know what the future holds, but many companies are eager to team up with Sarsılmaz. Our negotiations are at full speed. Surely, we may make certain surprises in the upcoming period. We aim to become a multinational in our industry.

Defence Turkey: You have established a company named SAR USA in the USA and presently you conduct nearly 50% of your exports through this company to the USA. What can you share with us on the production made in USA and on the deliveries?

Latif Aral ALİŞ: We founded our US-based company  in advance so that we can utilize the distributors in the US. We do not aim to sell too many products; we aim to build a good reputation instead. We included our company in the TURQUALITY support program developed by the Ministry of Economy for the branding of our country. We are the only weapon company manufacturing light weapons as part of this program.

Defence Turkey: Sarsılmaz exports a crucial part of its production to foreign countries and exports weapons nearly to 80 countries. At the same time, with the help of its products having high performance at tenders launched by the Ministry of National Defence, the company has been the single official weapon supplier of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) for years and accomplished the delivery of hundreds and thousands of weapons of different types to the use of the Turkish Police as part of contracts signed with the National Police. Could you inform us on the recent weapon deliveries made to the TAF and to the National Police and the models of the weapons delivered?

Latif Aral ALİŞ: We have secured the Indigenous Weapon Development Tender thanks to the SAR 9 METE 9x19 mm semi-automatic pistol which was selected far the best pistol and completed the project with the least number of errors This pistol is the outcome of one-year-long intense R&D activities. It has always been an operation weapon admired by everyone due to its ergonomic structure, its practical demount ability, its robustness and high target acquisition capacity.

Defence Turkey: Sarsılmaz secured the Indigenous Weapon Development tender executed by the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB). Within the scope of the contract you have signed, you will be accomplishing the delivery of a total of 110,242, 9mm SAR 9 METE semi – automatic pistols for the Land and Air Forces Commands, the Coast Guard Command and the National Police. What would you like to tell our readers on the latest status of the deliveries and the feedback received from the users?

Latif Aral ALİŞ: Let’s add the Gendarmerie to the armed forces that you have mentioned. The overall number of weapons we will be delivering as part of this project is 157,242.  For the time being 33,242 of these weapons have been delivered. The major part of this delivery will be accomplished in 2019 and 2020. We have been receiving quite positive feedback. We are delighted and proud to gain such a product for our country. In fact, the manufacturing of pistols is quite simple for us, yet we displayed our experience and technology once again in this recent product.

Defence Turkey: Could you please enlighten our readers on the R&D approach of Sarsılmaz Company regarded as Turkey’s greatest weapon and sports gun manufacturer and as one of Europe’s three greatest weapon manufacturers and the activities conducted to this end? What would say on the cooperation with TÜBİTAK (the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) and the universities as part of R&D activities? What types of new technologies will be taking part in new pistol and shotgun models?

Latif Aral ALİŞ: We are conducting R&D studies to further enhance our repertoire consisting of our cumulative experience and know-how spanning over 139 years, and for the utilization of this repertoire in designing new applications. With the aim of maturing these inventive activities we have been executing on a systematic basis, we have restructured our R&D unit in 2007. By implementing the R&D management processes at this unit, we have revealed many new products and achieved technological developments. We made an application for achieving the status of an R&D center on 25 June 2015, this application was examined by the relevant authority and approved on 17 August 2015.

As of Sarsılmaz, we keep up with scientific developments and innovations and attach great importance to R&D with our desire to realize what has never been done before. We aim to manufacture the products that will best fulfill the demands and requirements foreseen in the global market. Our team with advanced know-how and global experience is the guarantee to maintaining Sarsılmaz Company’s sustainable and full manufacturing capacity. Furthermore, we team up with the Turkey’s greatest R&D institution TÜBİTAK, as well as Middle East Technical University, Kocaeli University, Eskişehir Osmangazi University as well as Düzce University on various projects at the Sarsılmaz R&D Center. As Sarsılmaz, we developed Turkey’s first indigenous infantry rifle with light and modular weapon system characteristics the SAR 223 which is effective at all types of environment and harsh weather conditions and which has high firepower, accurate range and hit rate, by collaborating with TÜBİTAK, University of Kocaeli and the Middle East Technical University.

In parallel with the rapid development in technology, the impetus of change and development of the weapon systems and equipment increased in the defence industry. In order to keep up with these swift changes and developments, the Sarsılmaz R&D Center established is the only R&D center in the light weapon sector that was certified by the Ministry of Industry and Technology.

Our experienced and dynamic R&D team is composed of engineers and technicians experienced in product development, 3-dimensional indigenous design, prototype production and weapon tests and gun masters and operators who are constantly surveying market demands.

At our R&D Center, we follow the systematic approach given below throughout the roll-out of new products:

Concept development,

Technological, technical and economic feasibility studies,

The laboratory studies and similar studies conducted as part of the transition process from the developed concept to design,

Design, design implementation and design verification activities,

Prototype production,

Establishment of the pilot facility,

Trial production and execution of the type tests,

Solving the issues faced during the field tests arising from the design.

Defence Turkey: Sarsılmaz launched the production of semi-automatic weapons upon the Production License granted by the MSB in 1998. In 2009, with its own resources, the company commenced development activities regarding the 5.56 mm caliber infantry rifle named SAR 223T and the 9mm caliber machine gun named SAR 109T. Could you please inform us on the latest status of the aforementioned weapon programs launched at IDEF’13 and the deliveries accomplished so far? What type of feedback has been received at promotion and marketing activities held in our country and abroad?

Latif Aral ALİŞ: The semi-automatic weapons as part of the Sarsılmaz product range are being utilized by the institutions under the auspices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs composed of the National Police (EGM), General Command of Gendarmerie and the Coast Guard Command as well as the units under the auspices of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) that composed of Land, Naval and Air Forces Commands. Our machine guns are being utilized by the EGM, General Command of Gendarmerie and our Naval Forces Command as a task gun; our indigenous infantry rifles SAR 223P and SAR223T and the SAR 308 infantry rifle are being used by the institutions under the auspices of our Ministry of Internal Affairs. The MPT-76 Modern Infantry Rifle we have been manufacturing is included in the inventories of the EGM and Air Forces Command. Our tactical shotguns are being used in operations and admired by our General Command of Gendarmerie as well.

Defence Turkey: In February 2017, you signed a contract with the SSB for the production of 10,000 MPT-76 Modern Infantry Rifles and launched the mass production activities in 2018 upon the completion of the pre – production and prototype testing processes. In the meantime, the amount of the order reached 20,750 in 2018 according to the additional contracts signed with the SSB to this end. What are your comments on the amount orders received so far and on the accomplished deliveries within the scope of the MPT-76 project?

Latif Aral ALİŞ: We have received an order of overall 12,000 Modern Infantry Rifles from the Presidency of Defense Industries; the deadline of delivery was identified as the year 2020. We have successfully accomplished the factory acceptance tests of the first group of these rifles at this time.  We initially completed the delivery of 500 products to the National Police (EGM). Currently, we are about to deliver 2,500 rifles to the Air Forces Command and to the EGM. Even though we were been involved in this project very late, we manufactured the products in a short span of time and launched the deliveries. 

Defence Turkey: What would you like to tell about the TR Mechatronics Company you established with the Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc. (TAI) in 2018 at the 1st Organized Industrial Zone in Düzce? This company has recently signed the Project on the Development of a 20 mm Cannon with the SSB in April. With this project, the indigenous design and production of the 20 mm rotary barreled turreted weapon system utilized in the T129 ATAK helicopters is aimed. Could you please inform our readers on the project schedule, the targeted rate of domestic participation and the number of cannons to be manufactured?

Latif Aral ALİŞ: Sarsılmaz and Turkish Aerospae are two notables enterprises achieved to make their marks in their own fields. We have established TR MEKATRONIK Company in order to minimize foreign dependency, with the vision of achieving a breakthrough. The structure of our partnership was formulized as 50% Sarsılmaz and 50% Turkish Aerospace. During this procedure, Sarsılmaz will be proceeding by sharing its activities in aerospace with TR MEKATRONIK to a certain extent. We believe these two companies will be contributing to each other’s achievements as aerospace industry contains quite valuable know-how in respect to design and quality requirements and since we perform our operations at the same premises. Moreover, TR MEKATRONIK will be in the structure that develops products of superior quality in line with the R&D philosophy. We believe that our new company, which will be conducting R&D studies in the first two years, will be contributing greatly to our country’s exports in the next five years.

Defence Turkey: As Sarsılmaz Weapon Industry, in the middle of 2017 bought the Yavaşçalar (YAVEX) Hunting Equipment Industry and Trade, Inc. which was considered to be Turkey’s leading explosives and light weapon ammunition manufacturer and established a brand new company titled as “Sarsılmaz Explosives Industry, Inc.”. What are your comments on Sarsılmaz’s light weapon ammunition (i.e. YAVEX 9 mm x 19 FMJ, YAVEX Primer, 5,56 mm x 45 and the 7,62 mm x 51) production capacity and its targets for the future?

Latif Aral ALİŞ: This facility was capable of only manufacturing 9x19 caliber guns when we bought it, now it has tripled its capacity. We completed our investments to enable the production of all components of ammunition in 5,56X45, 7,62x51 and 12,7x99 calibers. We will launch the production as soon as possible. 

Defence Turkey: In addition to your Presidency of the Sarsılmaz Board, you are also the President of the Defense and Aerospace Industry Exporters’ Association (SSI). Does having two positions bring you difficulties in the business world?

Latif Aral ALİŞ: The Defence Industry is our sector. What we have learned in Sarsılmaz actually facilitated my endeavors at the Presidency of the Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporters’ Association. Furthermore, it enables me to make more pragmatic decisions. The Defence Industry exports achieved an average increase rate of 50% in the last three months. The Turkish Defense Industry Sector is becoming the highest growth sector among all the sectors as a result of export sales. 

Defence Turkey: Sarsılmaz has been executing manufacturing for the aerospace industry since 2013. Could you please enlighten our readers on your activities in the aerospace industry and the deliveries you have recently accomplished? 

Latif Aral ALİŞ: As of 2015, we have been manufacturing 500 various parts for the aerospace industry. We are manufacturing different parts for companies such as Boeing, Airbus, etc. and for all the products manufactured by Turkish Aerospace. 

Defence Turkey: How did Sarsılmaz prepare for the International IDEF’19 fair, where Turkish Defense Industry will be raising its flag with its newest indigenous solutions? What are your assessments on Sarsılmaz Company’s participation in IDEF’19 and the surprises prepared for the visitors? 

Latif Aral ALİŞ: We will be displaying all our semi–automatic and revolvers within our product range including the ammunition calibers- from .22 to caliber to .45 caliber and the semi–automatic and fully automatic pistols with the caliber of 9x19 at IDEF’19. The shotguns with the calibers of 5,56x45 mm and 7,62x51 mm will be exhibited at our stand. Besides, we will be demonstrating the pistols with 7,62x51 mm and 12,7x99 mm calibers of which the projects were assigned by the SSB. Therefore, we will be showing our capability to manufacture the light weapon industry at all calibers as well as our capacity to produce all types of military products. 

Defence Turkey: Would you like to convey any message to our readers? 

Latif Aral ALİŞ: Our Company’s principle is to manufacture the best product with the highest quality. We consistently lay claim to our products that are on the market.  This perspective is the greatest proof why we are a reliable brand. 

Defence Turkey: Dear Mr. ALİŞ, thank you for your time and we wish you continued success