Turkey’s Medium Segment System Provider / Integrator SDT Accelerates on Export Opportunities

In this interview Ömer KORKUT General Manager of SDT Space & Defence Technologies discusses how the company benefits from seasoned expertise in electronic production and how this has become an advantageous and complementing factor as exports sales increase.

Date: Issue 100 - August 2020

Defence Turkey: Established in February 2005, SDT Space & Defence Technologies Inc. or SDT in short is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. Could you please review SDT’s 15th year in terms of figures such as turnover, number of staff, number of projects in progress, export sales, R&D budget, etc.? Bearing in mind the added value it creates and the vision it presented, what is SDT’s role in the Turkish Defense and Aerospace Industry?

Ömer KORKUT: First of all, I would like to state that to me the 15 years that passed since the establishment of SDT as a private company with local capital is a success story. If we review the last ten years as an indicator, our Defense Industry came into prominence due to the developments based on global and regional balances and it achieved critical growth through the substantial move it made with the support of our state. During this ten-year period, the Defense and Aerospace turnover of our country increased from US$ 2.9 billion to US$ 10.9 billion. In other words, it increased by nearly 3.8 times. In concern with SDT’s turnover in the last decade that the figure increased from US$ 5 million to US$ 25 million by the end of 2019. Therefore, this 5-fold increase over the average of the sector is one of the most distinct indicators of the growth trend and success of SDT. Considering the number of staff, we also come across a regular increase consistent with the economic growth of SDT. The number of our employees was 184 by the end of 2017, as of the end of 2018 it was 198 and reached 214 by the end of 2019. These figures indicate 7% and 8% increases respectively in the last two years. By the end of the first five months of 2020 - half of which was the pandemic process - the number of our employees reached 224 and this corresponds to a 4% increase compared to the end of 2019. These figures point out to SDT’s determined and balanced growth. In regard to projects, which increase every year, the number of projects in which SDT takes part either as the main contractor or as the sub-contractor has reached 90 at present. In addition to the figure, I would like to underline a fact. In its first years, within the scope of our sector’s prominent projects, SDT frequently acted as the system/sub-system provider as a sub-contractor of major systems integrator companies. However, recently, with the capabilities and products it developed in the recent period, the company has started to act as the main contractor in medium-scale system and integration projects. I interpret this as being a result of the trust that the sector has in SDT. When we look at the export sales as another indicator, we witness that the share of export sales in SDT’s turnover in 2019 exceeded 20%. For defense industry companies, positioning their products and solutions in foreign markets is a crucial indicator regarding maturing of their capabilities and marketing capabilities. Therefore, SDT has made substantial progress in this area in recent years. Regarding the R&D issue in your question, as a technology company, at present SDT is conducting its R&D activities not only with the investment items in the budget it takes part in or through the projects funded by grants, but also with its own resources. These R&D activities executed with company equity are based on the target of meeting the requirements of domestic and foreign markets with products developed with the latest technologies. This at the same time is a part of SDT’s understanding of product-based development which the company has adopted as a principle since its development. To sum up all these figures and developments, I believe we could claim that within the 15 years since SDT’s establishment, the company has achieved stable and sustainable growth with the help of value-added products and solutions.  The company has secured its position as a prominent player with the trust it has built and has made great progress towards becoming a medium segment system provider / integrator company.