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At the Helm of the SSB, Steering the Stability and Strength of the Turkish Defense Industry, SSB President Prof. İsmail DEMİR discusses Turkey’s Opportunities and Capabilities in a Multipolar World

In our exclusive interview with the President of Defense Industries Prof. İsmail DEMİR, we revisit various subjects, obtaining the latest information on the ambitious export goals set under the vision 2023 plan, including government to government sales which are strengthening Turkey’s position in export markets, to the SSB’s approach on trade financial models. We also discuss the latest on the ALTAY Main Battle Tank program as well as the T129 ATAK program, Turkey’s warship procurement plan for the balance of power within the scope of the Blue Homeland, and the latest status of the Unique and Multi-National Air Defense Projects. Has France’s attitude regarding the EUROSAM program changed? Will the end-product of Hisar+A Systems be commissioned by the end of the year? Is the first S-400 system operational? Are joint production and technology transfer a sine quo non for the purchase of the second system? Following Turkey’s removal from the F-35JSF program, what approach will Turkey take amid deployment of the S-400 systems.

Issue 101

Defence Turkey: Dear Prof. İsmail DEMİR, thank you for your time today. This April you completed your sixth year in office as the President of the Defense Industries.  Could you evaluate the developments that have occurred during your term in office? Have there been any targets that the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) could not fully achieve during this period? And do you have any projects set to be realized in 2021?

İsmail DEMİR: If you take a look at the course of previous events, you may realize that we are striving to structure a Presidency of Defense Industries that is more integrated with the Forces, and that focuses on areas required by the procurement authorities. We are expanding our workforce. Surely, speed is quite critical at this point, the requirements of our country are clear, and the procurement authorities normally want to receive the products rapidly and in full performance. However, when we look closely at global developments, we witness that these types of projects require a certain amount of time. Bearing this point in mind, we say that we need to progress faster, yet we are aware that we are certainly not slower than the others. We are doing well for the time being, yet we need to gain speed when the requirements of Turkey are considered. We must adapt a structure that stimulates the sector more rapidly and that could be integrated into the ecosystem in a better way. We have taken crucial steps to this end, but still the importance of coordination in the defense industry as well as our role need to be perceived better. When we think of the accomplishments İsmail DEMİR wished to achieve, actually I do not often speak about the local content rate that is mentioned frequently, then again, absolute independence in strategic products is quite critical for us. I will not mention the names of any products, but the critical technologies of the products we aim to generate must be developed indigenously and they need to be prepared today. Think of a system or a platform, when you fail to own certain technologies that would add vital features to that system or platform when the time comes, then the power of that product may have no effect. For that reason, such critical technologies should already be available today. We can qualify this point as the most prominent article on our agenda.