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Aselsan’s Major Investment in Central Anatolia

The base of the Aselsan Sensitive Optical Rese

Issue 53

Minister of National Defence İsmet Yılmaz, Deputy Governor Ömer Kalaylı, Vice Rector of CU Prof. Sami Hizmetli, Advisor to the Minister of National Defence and Aselsan’s Member of the Board Hasan Canpolat, Aselsan General Manager Cengiz Ergeneman, Havelsan General Manager Sadık Yamaç, President of Sivas Commerce and Industry Chamber Osman Yıldırım, Chairman of the Board of Defence and Aerospace Exporters Association Latif Aral Aliş, representatives of non-governmental organizations and citizens attended the inauguration ceremony. 

In his speech at the ground-breaking ceremony Minister Yılmaz pointed out that it is an important day both for Sivas and Turkish defence industry and added, “Together we are witnessing Sivas gaining a strategically important complex”. 

Yılmaz expressed that Aselsan Sensitive Optical Research and Production Complex will be working primarily on the design and production of optical elements required for ultraviolet visible and near infrared bands and said: “This facility is the very first one in Turkey.  With the establishment of the company, employment opportunities in Sivas will be increased and cooperation between the industry and university will be founded. Emergence of a cluster in optical technologies will be pioneered and studies in universities will be industrialized and turned into products. In this regard, an Optical Sciences Research and Application Center and Optical Engineering Department have been established in Turkey for the first time within Cumhuriyet University. In this way, education and research programs concerning optical technologies will be carried out with domestic and/or foreign competent institutions by CU and Aselsan. Employees and researchers working in this area will be supported by our sector as well. This facility is established in CU techno park of CU for enabling the perfect functioning of the cooperation between the university and the industry”.

Yılmaz stated that selecting Sivas for this investment took almost ten years and thanked the investors. Minister Yılmaz, “Aselsan is Turkey’s greatest defence company and is among World’s top 100 defence industry companies and we are proud of Aselsan. We are applying the models developed for industrialization of the high technology with Aselsan’s private sector partners for the first time in Sivas”. 

Yılmaz mentioned that as the sector’s leader and favorite, Aselsan would continue its domestic and foreign investments and pursue its service to its country and added, “With the establishment of the company, the base of which has been laid today, an important step towards the realization of our goal to expand high technology and defence industry all over the country has been taken. I fully believe that Aselsan Sensitive Optics Company will become an internationally competitive company within a short time and thus contribute to both the economies of the region and the country”.

Aselsan General Manager Cengiz Ergeneman mentioned that they cooperated with 24 universities in Turkey and that Cumhuriyet University was amongst them. Cengiz Ergeneman stated that there were 2 projects executed with the CU Nano-Technology Center since 2012 and added that a new project has been approved by the Science, Industry and Technology Ministry. General Manager Ergeneman continued: “The Optical Sciences Research and Application Center and Optical Engineering Department within Cumhuriyet University was established with Aselsan’s support. I believe that our cooperation with Cumhuriyet University will continue in an increased manner through the establishment of these new departments and with the importance Aselsan attaches to R&D activities. Sivas University has an important place among the universities we cooperate with. I would like to point out that one of our very prominent scientists has collaborated with Cumhuriyet University after years of valuable and important studies abroad and this has added value to our selection of Sivas as the investment location. In addition to the opportunities emerging through our cooperation with the University, we have seen that Sivas hosts many significant investments such as Turkey’s first and only contact lens and intraocular lens (implanted in cataract surgeries) manufacturer Anadolu Tıp Teknolojileri A.Ş. operating since 2003 in the city. In our opinion, the existing optics knowledge in Sivas will form a synergy with Aselsan’s technologic background in Defence Industry. Aselsan transfers its strategically important know-how, gained through research and development and by using merely its own resources without making any technology transfers in the design and production of optical elements in Ultraviolet, Visible and Near Infrared Bands to the company founded in Sivas. With the establishment of the Company, eliminating the foreign-source dependency and covering domestic institutions and associations’, Aselsan being in the first place, demands of optic lenses for ultraviolet, visible and near infrared bands are aimed. While making the selection for the location, in our talks with our partners as well as Cumhuriyet University, we underlined that we especially desired Technopark in order to be close to the University. Consequently, the establishment of a research and production facility that bears 4000 square meters of an indoor area on 20.000 m2 land in Cumhuriyet University’s Technopark was decided”.

Chairman of the Board for YILTAŞ Group and Sivas Optik Malzemeleri Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş. Osman Yıldırım said, “We established an intraocular lens factory for cataract surgeries in Sivas in 2003 under the name of Anadolu Tıp Teknolojileri. Since then, we developed 5 different models through our resources and we are exporting our products throughout the world from Sivas. We started researching our health sector products’ usage in defence industry and worked with Aselsan and Cumhuriyet University. During this period of three years, we built good relations with Aselsan and our University and Turkey’s first optical engineering department was established. The foundation laid today is the first in Turkey; these lenses will be manufactured for the first time. It is also the first for Aselsan; it is making an investment in a different Anatolian city than Ankara. I would like to thank all Aselsan employees supporting this development. Aselsan will realize the technology transfer for the facilities’ establishment in Sivas related to the sensitive optical technologies required for ultraviolet, visible and near infrared bands. Thus the technology, infrastructure and human resources of the existing factory in Sivas manufacturing lenses and Aselsan’s know-how and technology will be combined. 

As soon as the new company starts production, the Optical Sciences Research and Application Center and Optical Engineering Department will transfer its projects to the industry. The production of sensitive optical elements for ultraviolet, visible and near infrared bands that were being manufactured abroad previously will be accomplished at the facility in Sivas.

Not from Abroad, from Sivas

Cumhuriyet University, Aselsan and Sivas Optik Malzemeleri A.Ş. formed a model partnership. This union will become the pioneer of the nationalization of defence industry and its country-wide expansion. Aselsan benefits from its know-how acquired in Turkey while transferring its own technology abroad and exerts effort for doing what has not been done in Turkey. An eco-system that will increase the local content rate in defence products and decrease the current deficit shall be formed with the collaboration formed in Sivas. The know-how and labor force necessary for the design and production of sensitive optical elements required by defence industry will be formed within this system and supported by Aselsan’s engineering power.  

To be used in Satellites

Using the existing infrastructure, with the optics and opto-medical products used in satellite telescopes, a structure that will serve the civilian sector as well will be formed. The facility will set an example to SSM’s objective of expanding the technology. This capability and facility gained in a unique and special area through critic technology will also function for the exporting in addition to covering the demands of domestic companies using optical products.