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Turkey: A Proven NATO-Standard Compliant Defence Industry Partner for MENA Region Countries

by İbrahim SÜNNETÇİ, Having one of the largest standing Armed and Security Forces in the world, with a Ministry of National Defence (MoND) budget of TL46,462.303 Billion (around US$9 Billion) and a combined defence and security budget of around TL102,8 Billion (around US$19,76 Billion based on the exchange rate of US$1/TL5,2 on 6 February 2018), the Republic of Turkey is one of the leading regional powers in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region, which is facing major challenges and undergoing significant transformations

Turkish Defence & Aerospace Industry and MENA Region

Like many developing countries in the world, establishing a local, self-sufficient defence sector is of vital importance for Turkey. As an emerging force in the global defence market, Turkey during the last 17 years has embarked on a defence equipment policy, which puts the major emphasis on indigenous manufacturing and development. Through a determined pursuit of technology transfers and co-production contracts - when defence equipment from abroad is built in Turkey - the country has been able to build up a formidable industry. Thus, the Turkish Defence & Aerospace Industry has achieved remarkable progress in many areas over the last decade and is steadily increasing its efforts to become self-sufficient. The Turkish defence sector is now making its presence felt in the fields of land, air and naval platforms, as well as in defence electronics (including combat management systems) and weapon systems.

As a result of this progress, Turkey has turned out to be a significant manufacturer of state-of-the-art, NATO-standard compliant and cost-effective systems and equipment in the defence industry in recent years. Making its presence felt in the fields of land, air and naval platforms, as well as in defence electronics (including combat management systems) and weapon systems the Turkish Defence & Aerospace Industry is steadily increasing its efforts to become self-sufficient. According to Turkish Minister of National Defence (MoND) Hulusi AKAR, local content ratio has reached a level of 68% in 2018.

Today, Turkey is developing and producing all kinds of systems, including the 5th Generation fighter jet TF-X, Advanced Jet Trainer & Light Attack Aircraft HürJet, 8-Ton Class (with 8.000kg MTOW and around 6.000 empty weight) national combat helicopter T129 Mk-II (ATAK-II), 6-Ton Class Light Utility Helicopter T625 GÖKBEY, AIP powered National Submarine (MilDen), National 3+ Generation MBT ALTAY, short medium and long-range air defence missile systems (HİSAR-A, HİSAR-O and HİSAR-U/SİPER) and the 533mm Heavy Weight Torpedo AKYA. MALE and Tactical Class UAVs in both Reconnaissance and Armed versions (ANKA, ANKA-S, BAYRAKTAR and KARAYEL), Self-Propelled Howitzers FIRTINA-I and FIRTINA-II, IIR+ Data Link Guided Long Range Anti-Tank Missile MIZRAK-U/UMTAS, Semi Active Laser Guided Laser UMTAS/MIZRAK-L and the Medium Range Anti-Tank Missile MIZRAK-O/OMTAS, Semi Active Laser Guided Missile CİRİT, Tactical Ballistic Missile BORA (export version named as KHAN), new generation air-to-ground cruise missiles SOM-A/B and SOM-J (F-35 JSF will be equipped with the SOM-J missile), ATMACA Block-I/II Anti-ship and Land Attack Missile, GökTürk-I/II EO Satellites, Simulation Systems, and the National Infantry Rifles (such as MPT-76, MPT-55).  The are some of the products developed indigenously in recent years and are already entering the service of the Turkish Armed and Security Forces.

As of the end of 2018, the Turkish Defence Industry’s product portfolio features over 3.000 indigenously developed systems and subsystems, most of which have been designed, developed and produced by Turkish companies through R&D programs funded by MoND/SSB and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TüBiTAK). 

Considering the fact that new generation international cooperation approaches like joint ventures rather than direct sales are now an absolute necessity in the field of defence, the Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB), the procurement authority under the Turkish MoND, has been encouraging local companies to establish joint ventures and partnerships with potential foreign companies in friendly and allied countries rather than seeking direct sales, as the majority of countries in Turkey’s target markets are increasingly seeking local content and joint production. As part of this strategy Turkish defence companies have been acting as partners not as suppliers towards MENA and Asia-Pacific regions, which are among Turkey’s target markets for the sale of defence products.

Having four firms (Aselsan [55th], Turkish Aerospace [61st], Roketsan [96th] and STM [97th]) in the world’s 100 largest defence companies in 2018, the Turkish Defence & Aerospace Industry has been diversifying its exports away from Europe, where defence budgets are being cut - to Asia, the Middle East and Africa, where expenditure is rising. Though Turkey is among the countries that have been greatly affected by the on-going adverse geopolitical conditions and changes that stem from the Arab revolutions and the ISIS terror due to its geographic proximity to the MENA region and the Arab world, is the fact that in the wake of the Arab Spring, Turkey’s arms sales to the Middle East and North Africa have boosted. Middle East and North African countries have started to prefer state-of-the-art, NATO-standard compliant and much cheaper Turkish products over their Western-made equivalents. The strengths of the Turkish Defence & Aerospace Industry have been low cost, high quality, on time delivery and good after-sales service in those countries.

With the establishment of export promotion mechanisms, it is believed that the Turkish Defence & Aerospace Industry would become more competitive in foreign markets and gain speed in export sales. The SSB has already launched studies for the preparation of a new law to facilitate FMS (Foreign Military Sales) like credit mechanism to allow government-to-government transactions for defence products and services and currently also studying the barter mechanism. Turkey plans to sell its defence and aerospace products to some friendly countries, which experience shortage of funds, via barter deals. Under the barter deals defence and aerospace products would be exchanged with industrial goods, ‘weapons for goods. If an FMS like credit mechanism is established and necessary legal arrangements for barter deals are realized, then Turkey’s hand in the export market will be strengthen and thus will be able to offer very generous economic packages for defence sales like other competitors in its target markets. On the other hand, credit to be provided by Turk Eximbank, Turkey’s official export credit agency, can be also utilized in financing the security programs. In 2018 Turkey granted credit packages to Pakistan to finance MilGem Corvettes and T129 ATAK Helicopters. Pakistan will pay the credits granted by Turkey, from its own budget and in installments in a schedule extending out to 10 years.

To celebrate its 34th anniversary in November 2019 the SSB is now (as of December 2019) managing over 610 defence and security programs valued at over US$60 Billion in the land, air, space, sea, electronics and weapon systems areas for the TAF, SGD (Turkish National Police) and other Governmental Organizations including but not limited to General Directorate of Forestry and General Directorate of Mineral Research and Exploration (MTA). In 2008 the SSB was managing 194 projects valued at US$19 Billion with a local content rate of 44%.

Exporting its defence products to over 60 countries around the world Turkey is targeting to become a top six country in the world in terms of defence and aerospace exports, and to reach a total of US$25 Billion (including US$10 Billions for the civilian aviation sector, US$5 Billion for Maintenance Repair and Overhaul [MRO] services, US$5 Billion for security system sales and US$5 Billion for defence industry sales) of exports by 2023, the year that will mark the first centennial of the Republic of Turkey. 

Importance of the MENA Region for Turkey

Considering the fact that exports play an important role in establishing a sustainable and competitive defence industry, the SSB attaches the utmost importance to exports and remaining internationally competitive in the defence sector. Turkey has already expressed its interest in expanding bilateral military cooperation and bolstering defence industry ties with the Middle East and North African countries as part of its efforts and policy to boost its defence industry cooperation with Islamic states. 

As part of its export strategy, the SSB decided to open Defence Industry Cooperation Offices, acting as liaison offices, arranging contracts between local authorities and Turkish companies, in priority target areas for the export of Turkish defence products. In this context for example Defence Industry Cooperation Office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was opened in March 2011 and the UAE office (at the Tawazun Headquarters in Abu Dhabi) in December 2012. In order to create awareness in the MENA region of the Turkish Defence & Aerospace Industry’s capabilities, the SSB has been supporting national participation in defence exhibitions in the MENA region. In this context Turkey participates in important defence and aerospace exhibitions organized in the MENA region such as IDEX/NAVDEX (UAE), DIMDEX (Qatar), SOFEX (Jordan), Bahrain International Air Show (BIAS) and Africa Aerospace & Defence (AAD, South Africa) and key players from the Turkish defence sector are brought together in a national pavilion. Defence and aerospace exhibitions provide the necessary atmosphere for the demonstration of Turkish defence sector capabilities and the encouragement of security and defence cooperation with regional countries.

In order to strengthen the existing cooperation and collaboration in the defence industry fields between Turkey and the MENA region countries, MUSIAD (Independent Industrialists’ Businessmen’s Organization) and the SSB have decided to organize country specific exhibitions in selected countries. In this context as the Turkish Defence & Aerospace Sector’s first event, aimed at one specific country, High-Tech Port by MUSIAD Qatar, a high level, advanced and strategic technology exhibition, was organized during October 6-8th, 2015 in Doha under the auspices of Turkish President Recep Tayyip ERDOĞAN and the Emiri of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani. 75 Turkish and Qatari companies showcased their latest innovations in the defence industry at the High-Tech Port by MUSIAD Qatar. During the Armed Forces Exhibition for Diversity of Requirements and Capabilities (AFED 2018), which was held in the Saudi Arabia capital Riyadh between February 25 - March 3, 2018 Turkey, the guest-of-honor country has shown keen interest in working closely with Saudi Arabia to build Saudi defense capabilities. A total of 24 top-notch Turkish companies displayed a large number of products, including military hardware, missiles, loitering munitions, RCWSs and service components, at the exhibition.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip ERDOĞAN paid official visits to Gulf countries Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar on February 12-15, 2017. The then Chief of Turkish General Staff (TGS) General Hulusi AKAR, MoND Fikri IŞIK and President for Defence Industries (SSB) Prof. İsmail DEMİR accompanied President ERDOĞAN during his visits. All aspects of bilateral relations and defence industrial cooperation as well as regional and international issues were addressed in depth during the visits, which further deepened Turkey’s cooperation with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar both at the bilateral and multilateral level such as the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. 

In June 2017, a handful of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, abruptly severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a blockade on the tiny Gulf country, accusing it of supporting terrorism. The Qatari Government has denied the accusation, blasting the blockade as unjustified and a violation of international law. Amid the rift, Turkey has provided an increased support to Qatar, boosting food and other exports to meet any shortages.

During mid-August 2018 the Emiri of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani visited Ankara to show his country’s support for Turkey, pledging US$15 Billion in direct investments in the country that found itself embroiled in a crisis with the US, which saw the lira’s value fall drastically against the dollar. Just days after the meeting between the leaders of the two countries, Qatar and Turkey’s central banks inked a currency swap agreement to provide liquidity and support for financial stability. On October 15, 2018 Qatari Minister of State for Defence Affairs Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Atiyya met Turkey’s President Tayyip ERDOĞAN in the presidential palace in Ankara. They discussed the mutual relations between the two countries, and “the latest developments in the region”. On November 26, 2018 the 4th meeting of the Turkey-Qatar Supreme Strategic Committee, chaired by President Recep Tayyip ERDOĞAN and the Emiri of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, was held in Istanbul. Speaking at the meeting, President ERDOĞAN stressed the importance of Turkish-Qatari ties and expressed his content with the level of relations at a time when the two countries are celebrating their 45th year of bilateral ties. The Supreme Strategic Committee between the two countries was established in 2014 as a bilateral mechanism for high-level dialogue and cooperation. The first meeting of the committee was convened in Doha in December 2015, while the second took place in Trabzon in December 2016 under the chair of the two leaders. The third of the meetings took place in Doha in November 2017. During those meetings, various agreements, protocols and memoranda of understanding were signed, further strengthening Turkey’s relations with Qatar.

The 21st meeting of Turkey-Tunisia Defence Industrial Cooperation was held during March 21-24, 2017 in Ankara. On December 27, 2016 Security Protocol was signed between Guinea and Turkish MoND at Presidential Palace in Ankara. 

Turkey also sets up military bases in Qatar and Somalia to expand bilateral military cooperation with these countries. Turkey has set up a military base in Qatar, as part of defence agreement between the two countries. Establishment of the base, part of an agreement signed in October 2014 and ratified by the Turkish Parliament (TBMM) in June 2015, intensifies the partnership with Qatar. The new Turkish base in Qatar, represents Turkey’s first overseas military installation in the Middle East. The first batch of Turkish troops arrived in capital Doha on October 4, 2015, and the Turkish flag was raised at the military base four days later. The establishment of the Turkish military base in Doha was completed in April 2016. According to reports the base has a capacity to accommodate up to 5,000 troops and Turkey plans to gradually increase the number of its forces in Qatar to 3,000 in accordance with the agreement between the two countries and keep a brigade in the Gulf country. As part of his official visit to Qatar on November 15, 2017 ERDOĞAN paid a visit to the Turkish military base in Doha and urged the troops to conquer the hearts of the Qatari people. 

Meanwhile in March 2018 it was revealed that Qatar signed an agreement with Turkey to establish a naval base. The agreement came during the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX) 2018. Turkey won a tender to establish the base in northern Qatar, General Hamad Bin Abdullah Al-Futtais Al Marri, Commander of Qatar’s Joint Special Forces said. The new naval base will include a training center that will primarily take on maritime patrols and monitoring. No other details of the base were revealed.

Turkey has set up its biggest overseas military base in the Somali capital, Mogadishu to help train the Somali National Army to fight Al-Shabaab terrorist organization. The base was officially opened in September 30, 2017 Saturday with the participation of the then Chief of Turkish General Staff General Hulusi AKAR. “This is the largest training base of its kind outside of Turkey. The Government of Turkey and its Army will provide all the needed support to our brothers in Somalia,” Gen. AKAR said at the ceremony. Under construction since 2015, the base, which reportedly cost US$50 Million and spread over four square kilometers, will train 10,000 Somali troops and has the capacity to train at least 1,500 soldiers at a time, according to Turkish and Somali officials. The new base also takes on an urgent significance as the 2020 withdrawal deadline for the 22,000 African Union multinational force gets closer. The base has been approved by the United Nations and will serve as Turkey’s second overseas base, after the first opened in Qatar in April 2016. Turkey, which has been aiding Somalia with military support for the last six years, also donated over US$400 Million to help end hunger in the country. According to Turkish MoND some 450 MPT-76 infantry rifles have already been delivered to Somalia.

Turkey’s Exports to the MENA Region

Emerging as a new arms exporter that can provide more efficient, low cost, combat proven, and less problematic products for arms buyers, the Turkish Defence & Aerospace Industry has increased exports by 17,1% during January-December 2018 compared to the same period last year. This is the first time defence exports from Turkey exceeded US$2 Billion level. According to export figures revealed by the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TIM), on January 1st, 2019 during January 1st – December 31st of 2018, the Turkish Defence & Aerospace Sector exported a total of US$2,035.334 Billion, while the said figure was at the US$1,738.512 Billion level for the same period of last year. According to TIM’s data the list of the top 15 countries that imported defence and aerospace products from Turkey during January 1st – December 31st of 2018 is composed of; the US, Germany, Oman, Qatar, the Netherlands, India, Azerbaijan, the UK, Poland, France, UAE, Ukraine, Spain, Senegal and Bangladesh.

According to TIM’s figures during January 1st – December 31st of 2018, the Turkish Defence & Aerospace Industry exported US$744,738 Million (which was at the US$708,577 Million level during the same period last year) in defence and aerospace equipment to North America/US, and US$549,393 Million (which was at the US$498,847 Million level during the same period last year) to EU Member Countries, around US$31,180 Million to other European countries, around US$310,647 Million (which was at around the US$131,352 Million level during the same period last year, rising 136.36% compared to 2017) to Middle East countries, around US$118,303 Million (which was at the US$91.540 Million level during the same period last year) to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), around US$120,470 Million (which was at the US$141,718 Million level during the same period last year) to other Asian countries, around US$84,349 Million (which was at the US$63,790 Million level during the same period last year) to African countries and around US$51,895 Million (which was at the US$71,026 Million level during the same period last year) to countries in the Far East.

With a total of around US$153,373 Million (which represents a 1,046.43% increase compared to the same period last year, one of the largest in terms of the rate of increase, mainly stemming from FNSS PARS III ACV deliveries to the Royal Omani Army), Oman was the largest recipient/importer from the MENA region in 2018, followed by Qatar with around US$83,454 Million (which represents a 240.85% increase compared to the same period last year and believed to stem from wheeled armored vehicles and fast intervention boats sales/deliveries to the Qatar Emiri Armed Forces), UAE with US$35,278 Million (which represents a 376.35% increase compared to the same period last year, mainly stemming from Otokar’s RABDAN 8x8 III ACV deliveries to the UAE Army), Senegal with around US$26,867 Million (which represents a 3,819.23% increase compared to the same period last year, the largest one in terms of the rate of increase), Burkina Faso with US$18,103 Million, Chad with US$10,080 Million and Saudi Arabia with US$8,324 Million.

During DIMDEX 2018, which was held at the Qatar National Convention Center in Qatar’s capital Doha on March 12-14, Turkey’s leading defence & aerospace companies won contracts worth US$800 Million, of which around US$500 Million went to Turkish private shipyards. Turkey notably increased its arms exports (specifically armored vehicles and naval vessels/boats) to the MENA Region, one of the major markets for Turkish Defence & Aerospace Sector sales, during 2013 - 2018 and this trend is expected to last in 2019. 

According to export figures revealed by the TIM on February 4th, 2019, the Turkish Defence & Aerospace Industry’s total arms exports amounted to US$175,083 Million in January 2019, which represents a 64.4% increase compared to January 2018. However, it also represents around a 30% decrease compared to December 2018. In December 2018 the Turkish Defence & Aerospace Industry’s arms exports amounted to US$253,496 Million. According to TIM’s data the list of the top 12 countries that imported defence and aerospace products from Turkey in January 2019 is composed of; the US (US$64,226 Million), Oman (US$49,486 Million), Germany (US$18,489 Million), the Netherlands (US$US$7,661 Million), Poland (US$5,362 Million), Qatar (US$4,620 Million), the UK (US$2,820 Million), France (US$2,651 Million), Bahrain (US$2,270 Million), Belgium (US$1,620 Million), Saudi Arabia (US$1,314 Million) and Canada (US$1,304 Million).

Meanwhile, speaking at the Aselsan Union of Forces Summit held on February 5, 2019 at the ATO Congresium Center in Ankara, Turkish MoND Hulusi AKAR, formerly Chief of the Turkish General Staff, disclosed that Turkey has recently signed a contract with Qatar for the sale of FIRTINA Self Propelled Howitzers (SPHs). MoND AKAR did not share any figure about the number of FIRTINA SPHs to be delivered to Qatar Emiri Armed Forces (QAAF). It is believed that the contract covers the New Generation FIRTINA (also dubbed FIRTINA-II) SPHs, which are under production at 1st Main Maintenance Factory Directorate located in the Sakarya province of northwest Turkey. 

On December 14, 2018 Aselsan secured a contract valued at US$194,6 Million to deliver Fire Control Systems for the 140 FIRTINA-II SPHs ordered for the Turkish Land Forces Command. Upon the Decree signed by President ERDOĞAN on December 10, 2018 and published on the Official Gazette on December 20, 2018 the 1st Main Maintenance Factory Directorate, Turkey’s top Main Battle Tank maintenance and modernization factory was transferred to BMC, a joint Turkish-Qatari venture that manufactures armored vehicles. Under the deal, BMC will make an initial investment of US$40 to US$50 Million to modernize the MBT assembly and production unit. BMC plans to convert the military factory into a serial production unit for the ALTAY MBT, Turkey’s first indigenous, new-generation MBT. The plant will be under lease to BMC for a period of 25 years, according to the deal. The lease price for the factory has not yet been publicized. In October 2018 it was reported that after receiving assurance that there would be no export restrictions state-owned Machines and Chemical Industries Board (MKEK) signed a contract to procure 20 powerpacks (including 5TDFMA-1 engines) from UkrOboronProm (Ukrainian Government’s Defense Industry Enterprise) for the FIRTINA-II SPHs. Probably these 20 powerpacks would be installed at QAAF’s FIRTINA-II SPHs.

A Look at Turkish Companies in the MENA Market

Starting from 2010 in an effort to increase defence cooperation with Islamic countries, Turkey has turned its attention to the Middle East and North Africa to export fast intervention boats, rockets/missiles, ammunition and armored vehicles. During recent years, leading Turkish companies such as Anadolu Shipyard, Aselsan, ARES Shipyard, Baykar Makina, BMC, FNSS, Havelsan, Meteksan Defence, Nurol Makina Sanayi (NMS), Otokar, Roketsan, Turkish Aerospace (TUSAS), TEI, Vestel Defence and Yonca-Onuk JV have been quite active particularly in the Middle East and Gulf countries. Acting as partners not suppliers towards MENA region countries, Turkish defence sector companies have dramatically increased their exports and have started to sign high-value export contracts, thanks to the proactive foreign policy, aggressive marketing efforts and state-of-the-art, NATO-standard compliant and cost-effective products.

Anadolu Shipyard

During the DIMDEX 2018 Exhibition the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces placed an order for two Cadet Training Ships (CTS) to the Turkish private shipbuilder Anadolu Shipyard. According to Anadolu Shipyard, the 90-meter vessels will displace 1,950 tons and feature a helipad for a medium-size helicopter. The vessels will have the capacity to provide training for up to 72 naval cadets and are scheduled to be delivered in 36 months.  They are also set to be capable of performing offshore patrol duties.

Meanwhile during DIMDEX 2018, Piri Reis University, a maritime institution, also signed an agreement to establish an academy for the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces and MDS Defence Technologies secured a contract for the construction of a training center for the Special Forces Command of the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces.

Aselsan

Aselsan established in 1975 as a communication electronics company, has grown into the largest defence electronics company in Turkey, one of the 100 largest companies (55th in 2018) in the world. Under a contract awarded in 2009 Aselsan sold 150 STAMP (armed with 12.7mm M2HB) and STAMP-G (armed with GAU-19/A gun) Remote Controlled Stabilized Naval Weapon Systems to the UAE for the naval platform applications. The first batch of the STAMP systems have been delivered by Aselsan and the remaining systems are assembled and were delivered by new JV company IGG Aselsan Integrated Systems (established under an agreement signed between Aselsan and its local partner International Golden Group [IGG]) to the UAE Navy and CNIA. IGG Aselsan Integrated Systems’ production facility is located in the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi. Deliveries were completed in 2015 and 34 of the STAMP Systems were integrated on MRTP16 Class Fast Intervention Boats delivered by Yonca-Onuk JV of Turkey to UAE’s Critical National Infrastructure Authority (CNIA). Aselsan also hopes to sell 50 STOP/MUHAFIZ (with 30mm Mk44 Bushmaster II automatic cannon) Remote Controlled Stabilized Naval Weapon Systems to the UAE. 

Aselsan also secured a contract from Egypt for the delivery of a number of STAMP-G (with GAU-19/A gun) systems to be integrated on MRTP20 boats of the Egypt Naval Forces. Aselsan already completed the delivery of three 12.7mm STAMP and three 30mm STOP/MUHAFIZ Remote Controlled Stabilized Naval Weapon Systems to Qatar Navy and they were integrated on Yonca-Onuk’s MRTP16 and MRTP34 Class Fast Intervention Boats. Aselsan also delivered a further six 12.7mm STAMP Systems to Qatar and they were integrated on six MRTP20 boats ordered during DIMDEX 2016. Aselsan’s 12,7mm STAMP and 30mm STOP/MUHAFIZ Systems are also being integrated on 17 HERCULES Fast Patrol Boats (five 24m ARES 75, 10 34.5m ARES 110 and two 48.5m ARES 150) ordered in March 2014 by Qatari Coasts and Borders Security Department to ARES Shipyard. An agreement regarding the procurement of 12,7mm STAMP and 30mm STOP/MUHAFIZ Remote Controlled Weapon Systems for the needs of the Qatar Coast Guard Command was signed between Aselsan and ARES Shipyard on December 28, 2016. Under the €20 Million contract the deliveries were scheduled to be completed in 2018. Aselsan also exported undisclosed number of SARP RCWSs to Qatar and some of them were integrated on Renault VAB 4x4 Wheeled Armored Vehicles in Qatar Armed Forces service.

On June 8th, 2018 Aselsan secured around US$150 Million contract from Nurol Makina to deliver undisclosed number of SARP RCWSs, Kornet-E ATGM Launcher System and IGLA SAM Launcher Systems to equip Qatar Emiri Special Forces’ NMS/YORUK 4x4 Wheeled Armored Vehicles (WAVs). Under a contract awarded during DIMDEX 2018 Fair, Nurol Makina will deliver 214 NMS/YORUK 4x4 WAVs to Qatar Emiri Special Forces. During Aselsan facility tour that took place on May 7, 2018 Aselsan Deputy General Manager Mustafa KAVAL disclosed that Aselsan manufactures 7 SARP RCWSs per day and around 150 in month and as of May 7, 2018 1.458 SARP/Dual SARP RCWSs have been manufactured, 10% of them were export customers such as Kazakhstan and Qatar. 

Meanwhile under a contract awarded by the Qatar MoD, during the first half of 2018 Aselsan completed the delivery of Integrated Mobile Border Security System to the Qatar Emiri Armed Forces (QAAF). The System includes a tactical vehicle based on Mercedes Benz fitted with ACAR Land Surveillance Radar, ARYE E/O Sensor Systems and SECANS Security Management Software. Also, at DIMDEX 2018, Aselsan have signed a technology transfer deal with Qatari military technology firm Barzan Holding, covering the establishment of a joint venture ‘BARQ’ (Arabic for “lightning”) in Qatar for the local production of Aselsan’s stabilized remote weapon systems and electro-optical reconnaissance and surveillance systems for the QAAF.

Aselsan Middle East (AME), a JV company of Aselsan and KADDB Investment Group of Jordan, has delivered a total of 100 SAGER thermal sight systems to Royal Jordan Army to upgrade existing Kornet-E ATGMs by providing them night-time surveillance and engagement capability. In 2016 AME has delivered undisclosed number of Night Vision Systems including A100 Night Vision Monoculars and A340Night Vision Weapon Sights under a Night Vision Contract awarded in 2015. Company also delivered undisclosed number of Pilot Night Vision Goggles to Royal Jordanian Air Force and communication systems for MBOMBE Wheeled Armored Vehicle. In 2017 AME started local manufacture of Laser Guidance Bomb Kits under Aselsan license in Jordan. Aselsan in cooperation with local partner KADDB also working on the development of Remote-Controlled Stabilized Weapon Systems, Quad Kornet Launcher and Mini UAS. According to Aselsan 2016 Activity report, in 2015 Aselsan have delivered 1,033 A341 and 398 A361 Night Vision Weapon Sights in kits as well as 56 SAGER Thermal Sight to AME factory. Aselsan will provide technology transfer to Jordan for the local production of software defined VHF/UHF radios. In this context production line for the local manufacturing of software defined radios has been planned to be established at AME facilities.

In November 2015, Taqnia Defence and Security Technologies (DST), a subsidiary of Saudi development and investment company and Aselsan have signed a term sheet for the formation of a JV company in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Within the scope of the agreement, Taqnia DST (50%) and Aselsan (50%) has created a Joint Venture Company to operate in the field of Radar, Electronic Warfare and Electro-Optic technologies and to support the transition of the Kingdom to knowledge-based economy. On February 21st, 2016 Shareholders Contract was signed between Taqnia DST and Aselsan and in December 2016 SADEC LLC (Saudi Defence Electronics Company) was officially established. SADEC was formed with an initial US$6 Million investment to market Aselsan’s range of electronics, such as radar, electronic warfare (EW) systems and electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) sensors in Saudi Arabia. SADEC LLC became operational in January 2017. Construction of the manufacturing facilities (to be the scaled version of Aselsan REHİS facilities in Gölbaşı, Ankara) was completed during the second half of 2017 and the facility was officially inaugurated on December 14, 2017.

In KSA, within the framework of an agreement signed with the local King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) organization, the studies initiated with technology transfer for the local development of an indigenous waveform for Aselsan software-based radios have been completed and KSA-unique new waveform has been tested successfully on an Aselsan-built software defined radio. Following this success discussions and negotiations conducted for the local production of Aselsan’s VHF/UHF software-defined radio sets in KSA. For this purpose, new company (Military Industries Corporation SDR) and a production facility (with 5,000m2 closed area) have been established at Riyadh in 2015. As of June 2016, prototype production of PRC-9651 and VRC-9661 Series handheld and vehicular multi-band, multi-mode radio sets (200 sets) have been completed. In December 2016 Military Industries Corporation SDR facilities was officially put into service with the participation of SSB Prof. İsmail DEMİR and high-ranking Saudi officials. So far Aselsan secured three contracts from KSA for the production of software defined radio sets. First contract valued at US$85 Million was awarded in November 2013 was covering the local manufacture/assembly of 3,000 VHF/UHF software-defined radio sets (in handheld, manpack and vehicular configurations).

Meanwhile according to Aselsan, the company has submitted a proposal valued at US$1 Billion to undisclosed country for the delivery (and probably for the local production) of undisclosed number of Laser Guidance Kits (LGK). This undisclosed country is believed to Saudi Arabia. According to Aselsan Almanac 2017 document the company has performed successful live firing tests for demonstration purpose in Saudi Arabia with LGK-82s (for Mk-82 500-lb/336.79kg general purpose bombs) in October 2017. “During firing tests performed by Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) in Saudi Arabia targets have been hit successfully,” stated in the Almanac 2017. In February 2018, Lockheed Martin has joined hands with Wahaj, a subsidiary of Saudi International Petrochemical Company (Sipchem) to set up a production unit for its Paveway II Plus Laser Guided Bomb (LGB) mechanical parts in Saudi Arabia. The foreseen production package was said to cover three configurations GBU-10 (Mk-84 2.000-lb/907.18kg), GBU-12 (Mk-82 500-lb/336.79kg) and GBU-16 (Mk-83 1.000-lb/453.59kg).

Aselsan is also taking part in the avionics modernization of Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF)’s AH-1E Cobra Attack Helicopters, being carried out by TUSAS.

ARES Shipyard

On September 9th, 2013 ARES Shipyard announced that it had won a contract from Bahrain Coast Guard to build and deliver 6 18m-patrol boats from advanced composites. Number of boats later increased to 12 and first boat delivered in January 2014. Deliveries were completed in 2015. 

Following a tough competition with 18 international shipyards ARES Shipyard secured a US$55 Million contract on March 26, 2014, to deliver a total of 17 HERCULES Fast Patrol Boats from advanced composites in three configurations (five 24m ARES 75, 10 34.5m ARES 110 and two 48.5m ARES 150) to the Qatari Coasts and Borders Security Department. Deliveries started in October 2016 and scheduled to be completed by mid-2019. In December 2017, the handover ceremony was held for the ARES 150 HERCULES (QC901) Offshore Patrol Vessel which is 48,5m meters in length and the ARES 110 HERCULES (QC812) Fast Patrol Boat which is 34,5 meters in length, with the participation of officials from the Qatari Coasts and Borders Security Department and the Ministry of Interior in Antalya.

During DIMDEX 2018 ARES Shipyard, received a follow-on contract to deliver three 48,5m ARES 150 Offshore Patrol Vessels and six 24m ARES 80 Special Operation Boats, to be armed with Aselsan’s 12,7mm STAMP and 30mm STOP/MUHAFIZ Remote Controlled Stabilized Naval Weapon Systems. With this order the total number of ARES Shipyard boats to enter Qatari Coasts and Borders Security Department by the end of 2020 has been increased to 26.

HERCULES FPBs are armed with Aselsan’s STAMP and STOP/MUHAFIZ Remote Controlled Stabilized Naval Weapon Systems. ARES Shipyard also secured a contract from a Qatar state tourism company for the construction of 18 (8+10) ARES 17 CF luxury passenger ferries. First two boats were delivered in April 2014 and deliveries of the first batch of 8 ferries completed in January 2015. Company also manufactured two 30m FPBs with aluminum hull and superstructure for the Nigerian Customs Service. Dubbed the ‘KND30’ the FPBs are each powered by three 1,100 horsepower Caterpillar engines giving the boats a top speed of about 30 knots. Deliveries of KDN30 FPBs to Nigerian Customs Service completed in 2015.

On November 13, 2018 ARES Shipyard announced that it has been awarded a contract to supply 14 ARES 85 HERCULES multi-role patrol boats to the Royal Oman Police Coast Guard (ROPCG). The contract was signed between the Inspector General of Royal Oman Police (ROP) and the General Manager of ARES. This is Turkey’s first naval vessel supply contract with Oman. Deliveries are scheduled to be completed within four years. The ARES 85 HERCULES vessels are fully customized to meet the ROPCG’s needs and provide the agency with a much-expanded capability to patrol and secure the nation’s waters. The vessels have an overall length of 25,95m, a beam of 5,85m, a draught of 1,20m and a displacement of 70 tons. To be built by Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP) composites the ARES 85 HERCULES boats will have a maximum speed of 45+ knots.

Baykar Makina

During DIMDEX 2018 Baykar Makina secured a contract for the delivery of three BAYRAKTAR TB2-S Armed UAV Systems with six aircraft, FLIR payloads, three Ground Control Stations and a UAV Training Simulator to Qatar Emiri Air Forces Reconnaissance and Surveillance Centre Command, within one-year schedule. BAYRAKTAR TB2-S Armed UAVs will carry Roketsan’s MAM-L and MAM-C smart munitions. Under the contract Baykar Makina will also set up a UAV Operation Center and network-based data tracing and archiving software for the Qatar Emiri Air Forces. Baykar Makina will provide UAV Pilot, Payload (probably CMX-15) and Maintenance training to Qatar Emiri Air Forces personnel, who will fly BAYRAKTAR TB2-S Armed UAVs, in Turkey. Baykar Makina will provide 2-year logistic support to Qatar Emiri Air Forces for the operation of BAYRAKTAR TB2-S Armed UAVs. The Factory Acceptance Tests (FAT) phase for the six BAYRAKTAR TB2-S Armed UAVs and three Ground Control Stations were completed in January 2019, meanwhile training of the Qatar Emiri Air Forces personnel at Keşan, Edirne which lasted 4 months has been completed and 55 Qatari trainees (pilots and maintenance personnel) have graduated from the training program.

BMC

In late 2013, the Tunisian MoD awarded an undisclosed value of contract to BMC for the procurement of 40 BMC 350-16Z KIRPI Mine Protected Tactical Wheeled Vehicles. Deliveries completed in two batches during 2014. First batch 20 vehicles were delivered in February 2014 and the second batch in July 2014. 10 of these vehicles were equipped with Doodam RCWS. In 2015 Tunisia placed a follow-on order for further 101 KIRPI MRAPs in various configurations including 4 ambulance vehicles. Some of the vehicles are equipped with passive RPG protection system (AmSafe Bridport’s TARIAN). BMC will also deliver 40 KIRPI MRAPS to Qatar all of them to be equipped a Dodaam RCWS. Some 49% of BMC has been sold to a Qatari company QAFIC in June 2014. 

During Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX 2018), which was held at the Qatar National Convention Center in Qatar’s capital Doha on March 12-14, 2018, BMC secured a contract to deliver 50 KIRPI-II MRAPs and 35 AMAZON 4x4 Multipurpose WAVs to Qatar. Deliveries were expected to be completed by the end of 2018. According to news dated December 2018, BMC has been in talks with Qatar for the delivery of up to 1,500 armored vehicles including KIRPI MRAPS and AMAZON 4x4 Wheeled Armored Vehicles.   

Roketsan

The late 1990’s, Roketsan initiated negotiations with the UAE Armed Forces and secured its first contract to procure 122 mm rockets and weapon systems and the contract was eventually signed by the parties in 2001.This first contract enabled both parties to understand each other and build a strong base for future programs. With this strong and promising relationship, Roketsan began developing unmatched new systems designed for specific requirements for the UAE Armed Forces and delivered two different types of the JOBARIA Multi Cradle Rocket Launcher (MCRL) systems. 

In August 2018 Roketsan took part in the military vehicle category in the Guinness World Records Book, with the JOBARIA Multi Cradle Rocket Launcher System, which can launch 240 122-mm rockets, 2 minutes at a time.

Following the successful completion of these programs, Roketsan signed another contract with Burkan Munitions Systems (BMS), a local company licensed for explosives and mechanical parts production, for co-production of artillery rockets in the UAE. In the scope of this contract, technology provided the necessary infrastructure to the UAE for national programs.

In mid-2012, Roketsan began negotiations with Tawazun, a UAE based investment company, regarding the possibilities of a 2,75 Laser Guided “CİRİT” and related cooperation models. With the great spirit and significant effort of both parties as a team, Roketsan was successful in reaching a contract agreement early in 2013 for a very large number of procure of “CİRİT” missiles. Furthermore, the contract also comprised the integration of “CİRİT” to the UAE’s specified platforms such as the UAE Army’s Air Tractor AT-802 Surveillance and Light Attack Aircraft, Fast Patrol Boats and Land Vehicles.

At the IDEX 2013, Roketsan and Tawazun announced a contract which was valued at US$ 196 million, in order to cater to the requirements of the UAE Armed Forces, Thus, UAE was first export customer for the CİRİT 2,75 Guided Laser missile systems. Within the scope of this huge contract, Roketsan has completed on-time delivery of a great number of Laser Guided CİRİT missile deliveries to the UAE.

FNSS Defence Systems 

As the very first defence systems exporter (signed an agreement for ACV 350 Dhabyan vehicles with the UAE back in 1998) out of Turkey, FNSS has achieved a lot of firsts during last decade. Having awarded series of contracts in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for the modernization and upgrade of several hundreds of M113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) into the M113A4/ACV350 APC configuration, FNNS is now operating their army factories, which was another first in the Turkish defence sector. FNSS’ position in KSA did not occur immediately. It took a while for FNSS to build trust and find a stable position within the country. Following the success of the first agreement, five more contracts followed immediately covering the modernization of a total of more than 1,000 M113 vehicles with a total value of around US$1,5 Billion. 

FNSS’s history with KSA goes back approximately 15 years. Under the M113 APC Conversion Program FNSS received the first contract in 2004, covering the upgrade of 34 M113A1/A2 vehicles into M113A4/ACV350 APC level, and a follow-on contract valued at US$210 Million was signed in 2007 for the upgrade of further 300 M113s. Under the Conversion Program FNSS also took over the maintenance activities and operation of the Al Kharj Maintenance & Upgrade Center (MUC), located 8okm from Riyadh. The facility, owned by the Saudi Ministry of Defence and Aviation (MoDA), has been operated by FNSS for over 12 years now under a Government Owned-Company Operated (GoCo) model, in cooperation with local company Al Esnad Military Supplies. Valued at US$324 Million and awarded in November 2010 the third contract under Conversion Program was covering not only the upgrade of further 312 M113 APCs but also technology transfer, training and Integrated Logistics Support (ILS). Modernization work was carried out at the Al Kharj MUC.  On December 10, 2013 FNSS announced that it had signed a US$360 Million contract with a Middle East country (Saudi Arabia) for the modernization of M113 APCs. In KSA FNSS is in the fifth and sixth consecutive contracts. As of October 2016, the modernization of 996 M113s in nine different configurations have been completed. Because of the continuous contracts with this country, KSA becomes the company’s ‘Home Market’. Considering the fact that KSA is currently engaged in a serious conflict with Yemen and certain emergency defence procurements have taken precedence over other requirements there is a chance for FNSS to strike another deal with KSA. According to FNSS officials, the budget allocation is in the process for the next phase of the M113 Conversion Program. Since there is a need for other types of armored vehicles in the upcoming months, the company is expected to find an opportunity to sign an even-larger contract in KSA.

During the second half of 2015 FNSS received around US$500 Million contract from the Royal Army of Oman (RAO) and the Ministry of Defence of the Government of the Sultanate of Oman to design, develop, manufacture, qualify (both international and customer) and deliver a total of 172 PARS-III Wheeled Armored Vehicles (WAVs) in 13 variants and the contract became effective on September 20, 2015. Contract period is expected to be finished in May 2020. This contract represents the second export order for the PARS WAV following Malaysia. RAO PARS-III 8x8WAVs feature some country specific modifications and upgrades and have slightly different appearance compared to PARS-II/AV-8 Gempita vehicles of the Malaysian Army. On the contrary to PARS-II/AV-8 vehicles, the RAO PARS-III WAVs does not have swimming capability but in return they have better ballistic and mine/IED protection thanks to add-on armor modules. The official delivery of the first PARS-III WAV to the RAO took place on July 12, 2017 at the FNSS facilities located in Gölbaşı, Ankara/Turkey.

FNSS has also previously modernized and upgraded AIFV and M113 vehicles for Bahrain Defence Force and M113 vehicles of the Royal Jordanian Army.

Havelsan

In December 2012 Havelsan secured around US$49 Million contract for the establishment of an AW139 Helicopter Simulator Training Center in Qatar for Qatar Emiri Air Force. Under the contract Havelsan designed, developed and delivered one AW139 Full Mission Simulator (FMS), one Flight and Navigation Procedures Trainer, one Cabin Crew Trainer Simulator, a Debriefing System and a Tactical Control Centre for AW139 Helicopters. The all-weather AW139 FMS provides high-resolution satellite imagery of Qatar’s 11,000km2 land and medium-resolution imagery for the entire Gulf area. In addition to these AW139 Simulator Training Center (TCC), which will be operated by Havelsan, will also include Computer Based Training Classes, Debriefing Rooms and Infrastructure Facilities. As part of the AW139 Simulator Training Center Project, which aims to meet the training requirements of Qatar Emiri Air Force AW139 Helicopter pilots, first delivery took place in June 2015. TCC was among the first product delivered to Qatar by Havelsan. It was followed by Flight and Navigation Procedures Trainer and Cabin Crew Trainer Simulator. Production and Factory Acceptance Tests (FAT) of the AW139 FMS already completed in 2015 but since the construction of the AW139 Simulator Training Center was not completed at that time it was decided to provide training service to Qatari Emiri Air Force AW139 Helicopter pilots at Havelsan facilities with the AW139 FMS. Major General Ghanim Bin Shaheen El-Ghanim, Qatar’s Chief of General Staff, paid a visit to Havelsan facilities in August 2016 and performed a flight at AW139 FMS. During his visit Maj. Gen. El-Ghanim also met and discuss with Qatar Emiri Air Force pilots and trainers who receive Simulator Orientation Training at Havelsan facilities. 50 pilots from the Qatar Emiri Air Force were trained at Havelsan facilities for a total of 600 flight hours. Havelsan shipped the 47-tons AW139 FMS (manufactured with a local content rate of 70%) to Qatar on December 22, 2016. The official inauguration ceremony for the AW139 Helicopter Simulator Training Center took place on November 5, 2017.

Speaking to Anatolian Agency (AA) on April 20, 2017 the then Havelsan Executive Vice President Lütfü ÖZÇAKIR confirmed that the company will open its first Middle East office in Qatar, one of its strategic partners. “We will conduct business development and project management services in the Middle Eastern countries, especially in Qatar through our office, where 15 to 20 engineers and technicians will work,” he said. ÖZÇAKIR also disclosed that at least a thousand pilots will be trained at the AW139 Helicopter Simulator Training Center annually.

In February 2017 During the IDEX 2017 Fair, Havelsan has signed a MoU with Taqnia Aeronautics Company of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to convert AN-132D light cargo aircraft into Maritime Patrol Aircraft configuration. The ceremony was attended by SSB Prof. İsmail DEMİR.

Havelsan was also selected in December 2012 by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for the modernization of firing ranges of the RSAF. Valued at US$26 Million first contract covers the modernization of one firing range and scheduled to be completed in 24 months. Follow-on contract for the second firing range is expected be signed soon. Havelsan has been offering its Electronic Warfare Test and Training Range (EHTES/EWT&TR) both to the Saudi Arabian and UAE Air Forces. Havelsan has previously sold training service to Saudi Arabian Black Hawk Helicopter pilots.

Meteksan Defence

Meteksan Defence has the most contemporary and modern solution in its field with the Damage Control Simulator developed for the requirements of the Navies throughout the world. Following a tough international competition Meteksan Defence beat out its rivals from the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Malaysia and India and won the tender of the Royal Navy of Oman for the delivery and establishment of a Damage Control Simulator. The contract became effective in August 2012 and after 20 months, which was ahead of the planned schedule, acceptance tests were completed, and the Damage Control Simulator was delivered in 2014. The Damage Control Simulator have delivered to the Royal Navy of Oman provides training opportunities to 24 students and includes a hangar. Within the scope of the project, that was completed as a turnkey project, a 70% local content rate was achieved.   

During the second half of 2018, Meteksan Defence secured a new contract from an undisclosed Gulf country for the delivery of a Damage Control Simulator. This is a third export contract for the Damage Control Simulator following Oman and South Korea. According to Meteksan Defence the simulator ordered by the undisclosed Gulf country basically has similar features and infrastructure with the simulator used by the Turkish Naval Forces Command, but as per end user’s requests there would be some changes in the interior design considering the ships that are in the inventory of different countries. Meteksan Defence will complete the deliveries in this project in 2020.

Nurol Makina Sanayi 

In 2013 Nurol Makina ve Sanayi (NMS) exported 20 TOMA Riot Control Vehicles (TOMA) to Libya under a contract awarded by the SSBto meet a Libyan Ministry of Interior requirement. Vehicles delivered in three batches to Libya during 2013. Under the contract NMS also provided training to the Libyan personnel who are to operate the vehicles and carry out maintenance. In August 2015 NMS delivered undisclosed number of EJDER TOMA to its first export customer, the Republic of Congo. The EJDER TOMA effectively met the operational requirements of the Republic of Congo’s Law Enforcement Agency in protecting and preserving public order and was first used for ensuring security during the African Olympic Games. The EJDER TOMA, which was developed by NMS within the scope of an SSB (Presidency of Defence Industries) project that was signed in 2012, stands out as Turkey’s first Riot Control Vehicle with high-level ballistic protection. 

In March 2017 NMS has won first export contract for its EJDER YALÇIN 4x4 WAV. According to company, the first export contract involves a ‘North African country.’ The company did not name the client country for secrecy clauses in the contract. According to sources the recipient country is Tunisia and the contract covers the delivery of 70+ vehicles. Some of the EJDER YALÇIN 4x4 WAVs have been integrated with a turret armed with a 20mm automatic gun. Following the Tunisia, NMS secured contracts from Uzbekistan, Qatar and Senegal for the delivery of EJDER YALÇIN 4x4 WAVs. According to sources NMS will deliver 1,024 vehicles to Uzbekistan ((local production), 342 vehicles to Qatar and 25 vehicles to Senegal. During DIMDEX 2018, NMS also has secured a contract to deliver 214 YÖRÜK (former name NMS) 4x4 Wheeled Light Armored Vehicles to Qatar Emiri Special Forces, to be armed with SARP RCWS, ATGM launcher and IGLA SAM launcher of Aselsan. Deliveries of the NMS 4x4 WAVs have been initiated in 2017 and scheduled to be completed in two years.  On December 15, 2017, during the military parade rehearsal for the National Day of Qatar, Qatari Armed Forces have showcased latest acquisitions of combat vehicles including the EJDER YALÇIN and YÖRÜK/NMS 4x4 WAVs designed and manufactured by the Turkish Company Nurol Makina ve Sanayi. In late 2018, in the Qatarİ desert, Aselsan tested its new Remote-Control Weapon Station, fitted on YÖRÜK/NMS of the Qatar Emiri Special Forces.

Otokar

As the leading supplier of soft-skinned and armored 4x4 tactical vehicles to the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF), Otokar has also secured several contracts from the MENA region countries. The Middle East is the principle export market for the company, where hundreds of Otokar-built armored and tactical wheeled vehicles including 4x4 armored Internal Security Vehicles (ISV/ZIGA), 4x4 APC, COBRA-I and 6x6 ARMA Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) are in service with regional countries’ armed and security forces. Otokar received first order for ARMA 6x6 APC in December 2010 (valued at US$11 Million and covered the delivery of 13 ARMAs) and a follow-on contract in June 2011 (valued at US$63 Million and covered 60 ARMAs) from Bahrain, first export customer for ARMA 6x6. According to Otokar, deployed at ground campaign in Yemen (at Marib Desert) under a joint operation of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ARMA 6x6 APCs are completing their missions with great success and performance. Its performance in live a combat environment has also attracted the UAE Army. ARMA was previously short listed in UAE Army’s 8x8 ACV tender covering the procurement of up to 600 vehicles, with ARMA 8x8 (other firms were Patria with the AMV and Nexter with the VBCI). 

Otokar established a company ‘Otokar Land Systems Limited (Otokar LS)’ in the UAE with an aim to follow existing and potential export activities and to increase its exports. In September 2016 Otokar announced that a Joint Venture (JV) company would be established with Heavy Vehicles Industries, a subsidiary of Tawazun Operations Company, in order to cooperate on defence industry activities particularly at UAE and countries in the region with Tawazun. In February 2017, during the IDEX 2017 Fair Otokar signed a deal worth US$661 Million to build 400 ‘Rabdan’ 8x8 Amphibious Armored Combat Vehicles (based on ARMA 8x8 and fitted with BMP-3 ACV turret armed with a 100mm cannon) for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Land Forces. The ‘Rabdan’ 8x8 Amphibious Armored Combat Vehicles will be manufactured both at Otokar facilities in Turkey and by Al-Jasoor, a Joint Venture company between Otokar LS and Heavy Vehicles Industries of Tawazun at the Tawazun Industrial Park manufacturing facilities in Abu Dhabi. Otokar presently reached the final stage in the negotiations conducted for the second phase that covers the delivery of further 300 vehicles in various configurations. According to the contract signed in February 2017, the production of the first 100 vehicles will be accomplished at Otokar’s facilities. To this end, the delivery of the first batch of 25 Rabdan vehicles, of which manufacture process was started in 2017, were delivered in November 2018. The delivery of 100 RABDAN 8x8 ACVs manufactured at Otokar facilities in Turkey is expected to be completed during the first half of 2019. According to sources the UAE Army also has a plan to order further 500 Rabdan ACVs under the third phase of the project.

Otokar also closely follows the Royal Army of Oman (RAO)’s Modern Main Battle Tank (MBT) tender covering the procurement of 77 tanks. Otokar submitted its proposal at the end of 2014 within scope of the procurement program that has been initiated in August 2013. The ALTAY MBT’s PV-2 prototype participated the field tests (mobility and firing tests) executed at Oman in July – August 2018. As part of the tests, firings were executed against fixed and mobile targets with the ALTAY prototype and a 4,500km distance was covered in desert conditions. According to the information we received, ALTAY MBT displayed successful performance at the tests run in Oman. At the tender in question, ALTAY MBT’s most serious competitor was the German Leopard 2A7 MBT. In compliance with the permit granted by the German Parliament, KMW previously delivered one Leopard 2A7 MBT to Oman in October 2015 for test and assessment purposes. According to the information we gathered, the summer tests as part of the project were completed and as of September 25th and the Technical Evaluation Report preparation stage was launched. Following the preparation of the report, the Oman Defence Ministry will conduct bilateral negotiations with the bidders and if deemed necessary, the companies will be requested to submit their Best and Final Offers (BAFOs) at least once. The final decision/company selection as part of the project is expected to be carried out in 2019.

Otokar also secured contracts from undisclosed Gulf countries for the delivery of Internal Security Vehicles (ISV) and URAL 4x4 WAVs.

Turkish Aerospace (TUSAŞ)

Having already completed the Falcon Star and Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) modifications of the 17 F-16A/B Blok 15 aircraft in the inventory of the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) during 2005-2007, TUSAS secured a US$65 Million (Aselsan’s share is US$24,8 Million) contract from Bahrain MoD in February 2015, for the modernization of 14 AH-1E Cobra Attack Helicopters in Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF) inventory by the end of 2020. Under the contract prototype helicopter underwent modernization at TUSAS facilities and Critical Design Review (CDR) phase has been completed in February 2016. According to sources within the scope of the project first modernized AH-1E delivered to RBAF in November 2017. Modernization/upgrade of remaining 13 AH-1E Cobra Helicopters have been planned to be performed in Bahrain with TUSAS’ technical assistance. Meanwhile according to the Aselsan 2017 Activity Report, following a contract amendment issued in June 2017, the number of RBAF AH-1E Cobra helicopters to receive avionics modernization has been increased. According to open sources RBAF has procured an initial batch of eight AH-1Es and six TAH-1P trainers in early 1994 and in 1997 received another batch of 16 AH-1Es. Around 22 of these helicopters have been deployed at the 8th and 9th Helicopter Squadrons based at Rifa’a.

Within the scope of avionics modernization, the RBAF AH-1E Cobra helicopters are being upgraded with state-of-the-art glass cockpit (with colored MFDs), AselFLIR-300T FLIR, MWR and RWR systems already used on T129 ATAK helicopters. AH-1E Helicopters will also gain 70mm SAL Guided CIRIT Rocket and L-UMTaS/MIZRAK-L ATGM capability. TUSAS is also offering its T129 Mk-I ATAK helicopter for RBAF’s future requirements. In this context a series of negotiations were held between RBAF and TUSAS for the T129 Mk-I.

Morocco also showed interest in the T129 Mk-I ATAK Helicopter. In June 2018 a Moroccan delegation visited TUSAS facilities in Ankara, Turkey to discuss the possible purchase of T129s. The interest in the T129 is understood to have been reinforced by reports of its impressive performance in Syria during Operation Olive Branch.

Yonca-Onuk JV Shipyard

Having completed the delivery of 34 MRTP16 Class Fast Intervention Boats (FIBs) in 2015 to the UAE’s CICPA in cooperation with its local partner Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB carry out the construction of 22 boats), Yonca-Onuk JV Shipyard has been awaiting to receive a contract for the second batch of 31 boats. Due to political disputes between Turkish and the UAE governments stemming from issues with the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ and the military coup in 2013 in Egypt (the UAE and Turkey had a serious dispute as a result of positions they held on these issues) order for the second batch of boats did not take place so far. All of the MRTP16 boats are armed with Aselsan’s STAMP (with 12.7mm M2HB) and STAMP-G (with GAU-19 gun) Remote Controlled Stabilized Naval Weapon Systems. 

In July 2010 Yonca-Onuk Shipyard received a contract from Egypt for the delivery of 6 MRTP20 Class FIBs to the Egyptian Navy. Boats are armed with Aselsan built STAMP-G systems, 3 boats constructed/assembled at Yonca-Onuk facilities in Istanbul and remaining 3 boats at Alexandria Shipyard in Egypt.  A production and final assembly line for the boats was established at Alexandria Shipyard. Deliveries started in 2011 and completed in 2013. Egypt had a plan to place order for further 6 MRTP20s but due to political tension occurred between Turkish and Egyptian Governments after the military coup in July 2013 this order did not take place.

During the DIMDEX 2018 Exhibition, Yonca-Onuk has secured a contract from the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces to deliver four MRTP24/U Special Operation Crafts (SOCs) and four MRTP24/U Fast Missile Crafts (FACs). The MRTP24/U SOCs will be armed with one Aselsan’s 12,7mm STAMP whereas the MRTP24/U FACs will be armed with a pair of STAMP Remote Controlled Stabilized Naval Weapon Systems as well as Aselsan’s remotely-controlled BORA Low Altitude/Short Range Naval Air Defence System to be armed with MBDA’s Mistral missile. At the end of 2018, MBDA successfully demonstrated the use of the Mistral missile against fast boats such as FIACs (Fast Inshore Attack Craft).

Yonca-Onuk Shipyard has previously delivered three MRTP16 Class, three MRTP34 Class (Qatar is first customer for this class) and 4 MRTP20 Class Fast Intervention Boats (FIBs, ordered in 2015 under a US$44 Million contract) to Qatar Emiri Naval Forces.  Meanwhile construction and delivery phase for the additional six MRTP 20 FIBs that were ordered during the DIMDEX 2016 Exhibition, under a €41 Million contract, is expected to be completed in 2019. The boats are armed with Aselsan’s 12,7mm STAMP and 30mm STOP/MUHAFIZ Remote Controlled Stabilized Naval Weapon Systems.