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Turkey and United Kingdom: Two Partners Complementing Each Other

By Latif Aral Aliş - Chairman of the Board of the Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporters’ Association

The defence and aerospace industry in the world is changing. Nowadays, the leadership in technology is no longer a default characteristic for the traditional countries. Countries aiming to develop their defence and aerospace industries have been achieving unforeseen technological accomplishments, bringing dynamism to the industry.

This transformation is paving the way for new types of cooperation and synergy. One of the most concrete examples of this is the cooperation in defence and aerospace that has been recently developing between Turkey and the United Kingdom. The Turkish defence and aerospace industry has been strengthening its position in the world market today with its turnover reaching approximately to US$6.7 billion and its exports reaching US$1.8 billion. In this picture, if the following are taken into consideration, it could be clearly seen that in the future turnover and export figures beyond these figures could be achieved and a bigger potential exists in reality:

The R&D and technology expenses of the industry were accumulated to US$1.2 billion,

Turkey has been preparing to include the indigenous main battle tank to the inventory,

The indigenous frigate construction has been continuing,

The maiden flight of the indigenous fighter jet is planned to be accomplished in 2023, 

All the aforesaid products are being developed in alliance with the standards of the NATO,

As the industry, we are focusing on the points to be achieved instead of focusing on our achievements. We have proved numerous times that we are capable of providing effective solutions at the system level. Now, products in sub system and component levels are included in our targets.

As our activities deepen, the subjects in which we may build cooperation in defence and aerospace with friendly and allied countries becomes diversified and deepens. We regard the United Kingdom as such a partner. 

Steps towards Fundamental Cooperation

The relations between Turkey and the United Kingdom have been developing in all areas in the recent period. As our President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also stated during his official visit to the United Kingdom in May 2018, “Both countries should be able to design and manufacture products with high added value together and should benefit from the opportunities in the third countries.”

The reflection of this cooperation in the defence and aerospace industry may occur exactly in the way expressed by President Erdoğan. Turkey has been developing platforms and systems for its own needs while aiming to fulfil the demands of friendly and allied nations in the world markets, MENA, Middle East and Far East regions being in the first place. In its new path launched upon the Brexit process, the United Kingdom has been adopting its own decisions and revising its position in the world. As two NATO member countries that believe in the virtues of democracy and believing that the society would achieve welfare through free market conditions, there are many areas in which Turkey and the United Kingdom could cooperate.

Without doubt, the National Fighter Jet (TF-X) has been the project in which the cooperation between the two countries took the most concrete form in the recent period. Turkey rolled up its sleeves to develop a new generation fighter jet that would not fall behind its equivalents. The activities for uniting Turkey’s determination and its technological accumulation increasing every day with the United Kingdom’s in intensive knowhow and experience in aerospace continue in the governmental level. The cooperation of Turkish companies with UK companies, BAE Systems and Rolls - Royce being in the first place, may be the first step of a success story in the skies. 

The Future is Bright

We are aware that the areas of potential cooperation between the two countries are not limited with the TF-X program. As we carry out negotiations, new areas and new opportunities emerge. New paths will open before us as the support and faith in this cooperation are maintained by the shareholders from governments to company representatives.

As the Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporters’ Association (SSI), we have been supporting Turkish defence and aerospace industry’s cooperation in foreign countries since 2011. We will be standing by our colleagues from the United Kingdom at the Farnborough 2018 International Aviation Fair with our industrialists this year as well. 

I believe that the cooperation between Turkey and the United Kingdom would grow upon the harmony of the mutual interests and would develop in a way that provide added value to both countries as well as bringing stability and confidence to the world.