SAHA EXPO, the World`s First Virtual Defense Industry Exhibition Starts

The world`s first 3D virtual defense industry exhibition SAHA EXPO, organized by SAHA Istanbul and open to audiences all over the world for 5 months, started on November 9, 2020. Delivering a speech at the opening ceremony, which was broadcast live via satellite and on SAHA Istanbul`s social media accounts, SAHA Istanbul Chairman Haluk BAYRAKTAR said, "With its defense industry raising the local content rate to 70% and steadily reducing foreign dependency, Turkey has reached a position of being a doctrine-setting country through the warfare technologies it has developed."

Tarih: Issue 103 - January 2021

The opening ceremony of SAHA EXPO, the world's first 3D virtual defense industry exhibition, organized by SAHA Istanbul, Turkey's largest and fastest-growing Defense, Aviation and Space Cluster Association, was held with the participation of Minister of Trade Ruhsar PEKCAN, Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa VARANK, President of Defense Industries Prof. İsmail DEMİR, Deputy Minister of Industry and Technology Hasan BÜYÜKDEDE, SAHA Istanbul Chairman Haluk BAYRAKTAR and SAHA Istanbul Secretary-General İlhami KELEŞ.

SAHA Istanbul Secretary-General İlhami KELEŞ provided information about the SAHA EXPO Virtual Exhibition. 288 domestic and foreign companies are attending SAHA EXPO, and 355 3D product models, 631 product promotional videos, and 1,540 product and company catalogs are being showcased online during this event. 288 companies and 174 delegations from 44 countries will be able to hold bilateral or multiple online meetings during the five months. For this Virtual Exhibition, 826 separate bilateral meeting rooms were scheduled, and 18,231 B2B meetings were conducted by industry professionals from Turkey and other countries of the world in November 2020. Throughout the duration of the global exhibition the number of international meetings is expected to increase. The SAHA EXPO Virtual Exhibition will remain open until April 9, 2021 offering an opportunity for participating companies to exhibit in 3D various products, designs, and new systems they have developed. According to the data shared by SAHA Istanbul, a total of 42,901 visitors visited the exhibition during the first month, 38,249 of which were from Turkey and 4,652 were from other countries.

Haluk BAYRAKTAR, Chairman of SAHA Istanbul: "We are exerting great effort for our Security Forces"

Speaking at the opening ceremony that was broadcast live on SAHA Istanbul's social media accounts, SAHA Istanbul Chairman Haluk Bayraktar stated that SAHA Istanbul, which was founded 5 years ago to ensure the contributions and integration of private-sector dynamism to the defense industry, has become the largest cluster of Turkey.

BAYRAKTAR stated that SAHA Istanbul continues its activities by focusing on the concepts of the establishment of collaboration in the defense industry, cost-effectiveness, sustainability, synergy, exports, and training, and added: "The local content rate of Turkey, which was 20% nearly 15 years ago, has reached 70%. With the determined efforts, Turkey has steadily reduced foreign dependency and has become a doctrine determining country through technologies it has developed related to warfare. For the last 10 years, it has achieved a 10% increase per year in defense industry exports on a dollar basis. Our goal is to make headway effectively. SAHA Istanbul has become an exemplary model in this effort."

Noting that the defense industry is no longer an industry where just a few companies perform activities or a few projects are conducted, BAYRAKTAR said, "The defense industry has become a vertically developed sector where hundreds of projects are supported by thousands of companies."

BAYRAKTAR also noted that Turkey is no longer a follower, on the contrary, a technology developer in the world that changes the game and added: "Just as our security forces who work heartily in the field, we are also striving to contribute to our country by our hard work at our factories, universities and R&D centers."

Minister of Trade Ruhsar PEKCAN: "Through Virtual Exhibitions We Demonstrate Our Digital Capacity" 

Pointing out that virtual exhibitions, which started to be held during the pandemic, have become an important tool to abate export losses in this period, Minister of Trade Ruhsar PEKCAN said, "We receive quite positive feedback from our exhibitors and visitors about virtual fairs. During the pandemic, sustaining our exports and maintaining market entry activities of our companies have been amongst our main priorities. Virtual trade delegations and virtual exhibitions are very important in ensuring continuity in customer relations of our companies." 

PEKCAN stated that they have supported 5 virtual fairs as the Ministry of Trade so far due to the pandemic and that SAHA EXPO is the 6th virtual exhibition organized with the support of the Ministry of Trade, and said, "So far, 50,000 visitors have attended, 22,000 local and 28,000 foreign visitors. Also, considering the international attention for SAHA EXPO, we believe that the number of visitors will exceed 50,000." PEKCAN continued her speech as follows:

"Through virtual fairs and exhibitions, we exhibit not only our products but also our country's immediacy to digital technology and its digital capacity to foreign buyers and visitors. For example, the fact that SAHA EXPO, the world's first 3D defense industry exhibition, is run by our indigenous software is a source of pride for us."

Stating that the level of technological development and success in the defense industry effectively contribute to the success of our country, PEKCAN drew attention to the export figures. As per the figures given by Minister PEKCAN, the 2019 defense industry exports amounted to US$ 2.4 billion. As of the first 10 months in 2020, the export volume was US$ 1.6 billion. Despite the pandemic, exports increased by 10.4% compared to the same period of the previous year. The industry's export per kilogram increased from US$ 45.50 in 2018 to US$ 61.90 in 2019. Noting that the US$ 17.3 billion in exports reached in October 2020 is the highest monthly export figure ever achieved, PEKCAN said, "We will move on as a country that has strengthened its position in the economy in the aftermath of the pandemic. According to OECD data, Turkey is set to be the 3rd least-affected country following China and South Korea."

Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa VARANK: "No slowdown in our industry despite the pandemic"

"We are all witnessing a historic day for our defense industry. Through this virtual exhibition, we are actually opening up the capabilities we have in the sector to the whole world with 3D modeling and interactive animation", said Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa VARANK, in his opening remarks. "Exhibitors will gain very distinctive experiences and insight. During this period, the fact that SAHA EXPO has organized such an exhibition communicates an essential message. Despite the pandemic, the Turkish Defense Industry has not slowed down. With the capabilities of our engineers, we realize innovative activities that make our country prominent in the world. The products to be exhibited in this fair are the most concrete indicators of our self-confidence, our capabilities, and product quality."

Stating that gaining independence in the defense industry is almost equal to economic and political independence, VARANK said, "The local content rate in our defense industry, which was 20% in the 2000s, has reached 70% today. Of course, this is not sufficient for us. For the future of the industry and its full independence, a 100% local content rate is necessary for critical components. Along with achieving indigenization in the main and subsystems, it is also necessary to achieve the same in lower levels. In these areas, it is necessary to find local companies that can produce materials and technology or allow new ones to emerge. Simply, it is necessary to go down deep to expand indigenization in the sector." 

Emphasizing that the defense industry is an exemplary model, VARANK stated that transferring the technological know-how gained in the defense industry to other sectors is also of significance for the ministry. VARANK: "We will implement mechanisms that will increase inter-sectoral collaboration to extend the utilization of developed technologies in the civilian area. Turkey has a very strong potential in all areas of industry. I am pretty sure that with the products and technologies we have developed, the innovations that many countries admirably follow will emerge in our country."

President of Defense Industries Prof. İsmail DEMİR: "I am sure that SAHA EXPO will achieve significant success in becoming a global brand”

"I am sure that SAHA EXPO will achieve significant success in becoming a global brand with its feature of being the first virtual exhibition to bring the power and visibility of the Turkish Defense Industry to the virtual world," said President of Defense Industries Prof. DEMİR and added that the effort of SAHA EXPO should be appreciated during a period where nearly all fairs have been postponed.

"It is also a source of pride for us that the technology and facilities used for this exhibition to be held virtually are the outcomes of the efforts of Turkish companies and engineers," said DEMİR. President DEMİR illustrated the developments in the defense industry with figures: "While the number of projects was around 60 in 2002, today the number of our projects has exceeded 700. While our turnover prior was not even US$ 1 billion, today we have a turnover exceeding US$ 11 billion. The number of companies at that time was around 50, and today the figure exceeds 1,500. Our R&D expenditure was rather scarce in the past and today it has reached US$ 1.5 billion." 

Stating that Turkey has a self-sufficient and competitive defense industry today, DEMİR added, "We have made good progress, but we know it is not enough. Considering the principle that the main duty of the domestic and national defense industry is to strengthen the country's defense, it is essential that our defense industry is ready for warfare. Considering that our defense expenditures would not be enough for our defense industry to become a sustainable global player, the concepts of export and multiple use would come to the fore in the forthcoming period.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Technology Hasan BÜYÜKDERE: Exhibitors and Visitors will have the Opportunity to Get to Know Each Other Better in a Virtual Environment"

Expressing that SAHA EXPO will be held virtually this year due to COVID-19, Deputy Minister of Industry and Technology and Founding Chairman of SAHA Istanbul, Hasan BÜYÜKDEDE said that he believes exhibitors and visitors will have the opportunity to get to know each other better in a virtual environment. BÜYÜKDEDE: "A sub-cluster has been established for each domain at SAHA Istanbul, and collaborations have been achieved. In this way, doing business in the defense industry has become important for industrialists and our business world."

SAHA EXPO will be Open 24/7 for 5 months

The Virtual Defense Industry Fair SAHA EXPO, where defense industry products are being exhibited in virtually for the first time all over the world, will remain open until April 9, 2021. In the SAHA EXPO Virtual Exhibition, as in the physical fair, the exhibitors have specially designed 3D stands. Promotional brochures in PDF format, as well as promotional videos, were uploaded to the system for the promotion of both products and companies. Exhibitors were given the opportunity to send e-invitations to their customers. Corporate visitors and delegations can request bilateral meetings and, if accepted, hold live meetings online.

Individual visitors, in addition to corporate visitors, can also view the products exhibited at the virtual stands of the exhibitors, watch their promotional videos, with an opportunity to leave their business cards if they choose to do so, and they have easy access to the contact information of participating companies. Exhibitors opening stands at the exhibition are also able to access information such as the number of visitors who visited their stands and those who left business cards. The SAHA EXPO Mobile application, developed for mobile phones to facilitate access to the exhibition, is available at the APP STORE and PLAY STORE for those interested in the exhibition, including visitors. 

Our Impressions of the SAHA EXPO Virtual Exhibition

Upon access to the SAHA EXPO Defense Industry Exhibition, which consists of a foyer and 3 main halls, visitors can visit all these halls or directly access the stands of the companies they are interested in by using the menus. In addition to the globally known main contractor companies of the Turkish Defense Industry such as Aselsan, Havelsan, Turkish Aerospace, TEI, Roketsan, BMC, ASFAT, MKEK FNSS, STM and BAYKAR around 200 companies which produce subsystems and parts for these main contractors such as Altınay, Anova R&D, CES Kompozit, Ermaksan, Gür Metal, Hema, İŞBİR and Saver are attendance at the exhibition as well. According to the official figures of SAHA EXPO, a total of 288 companies are in attendance at the virtual exhibition that will last five months. As most of these companies are attending a virtual defense industry exhibition for the first time, their preparations were not enough; some companies had one or two products at their stands, or there were no products, there were no introductory brochures/PDF documents for some products. We also noticed that some companies used PDF documents in the first days of the exhibition but then they were made unavailable later.

Virtual fair culture in the defense and aviation industry has newly emerged due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we think both the exhibiting companies and organizers will get more prepared and organized for the next fair in light of the feedback to be received after this year’s SAHA EXPO.  A total of 18,231 B2B meetings have already been held with the participation of industry professionals from Turkey and the world during the exhibition, which was visited by 42 thousand visitors only in November 2020, demonstrating a satisfactory level of interest in the SAHA EXPO event. For those interested in the sector or who want to do business in this sector in the future, interactive promotional activities, online briefings/press conferences with the participation of company officials, virtual contests, and the best stand selection can be planned in future fairs to increase the interest of this type of visitor profile. Through these activities, the visitors will be offered a fruitful and highly interactive fair experience, and it will be possible to attract a higher number of visitors, as in TEKNOFEST Istanbul, while increasing the awareness and attraction of virtual defense industry fairs both in Turkey and abroad. On the other hand, it is a known fact that the number of target visitors that companies wish to access among those visiting stands is proportionally higher in virtual fairs compared to physically held fairs. Therefore, if the exhibiting companies become more motivated about the importance and impact of the virtual fair, we believe that they will be able to reach a wider target audience in the next virtual defense fair through effective planning and preparation.

Products that Caught Our Attention at SAHA EXPO

Hundreds of products will be exhibiting at the fair until 9th April. Although we have information about most of them, some products were shared with the public for the first time and we will introduce you to two of them; the 81mm Breech Loaded Mortar and Mortar Fire Control System and the MAM-TFDLS Floating Decoy and Launcher System.  

SM-81 KESKİN Mortar and Mortar Fire Control System (HAKOS)

Designed by Ermaksan/Saver and produced as a prototype, the indigenous 81mm Breech Loaded SM-81 KESKİN Mortar can use the existing 81mm mortar munitions in the inventory. In addition to standard mortar features, SM-81 KESKİN has a breach loading mechanism and a built-in recoil reduction system. Thanks to these additional features, SM-81 KESKİN has direct fire capability, which is not present in conventional mortars. The SM-81 KESKİN, which is a cost-effective and easy to operate mortar solution, includes a Fire Control Computer with software and hardware developed entirely by Ermaksan/Saver. 

SM-81 KESKİN, which can be used in fixed and mobile positions such as outposts, permanent or temporary bases, watchtowers, or mounted on vehicles, can operate invariably with the initial setup configuration. Contrary to the existing mortar systems, it offers the user the opportunity to fire 360 degrees without the need for realignment or changing position after each shot (since it is mounted on a 360 degree rotating base plate on a stable surface). Using its Laser Rangefinder (capable of measuring up to 3,000 meters) and ADOP 2000 compatible Mortar Fire Control System (HAKOS) featuring a 7-inch display with digital map capability, SM-81 KESKİN can easily perform the necessary calculations for indirect fire missions with its integrated Mortar Fire Control Computer (HAKOB). Designed to be mounted on the vehicle when necessary, the SM-81 KESKİN has a breech-loading mechanism and trigger assembly, which provides automatic firing capability without raising the barrel.

SM-81 KESKİN, which offers the opportunity to fire at a target within the user's line-of-sight and fills the heavy weapon gap between 300m and 2,000m, features a recoil reduction system as well as a newly designed barrel and breech assembly that allows both muzzle and breech-loading. Thanks to its breech-loading feature, it enables firing without the need to raise the barrel each time. This capability also allows the system to be mounted on armored turrets and automatically loaded from inside. This feature paved the way for the indigenous development process of double or single-barreled turreted mortar systems, such as Patria products AMOS and NEMO. In this way, wheeled or tracked Armored Mortar Vehicles with rapid-fire turreted mortar systems can be developed without sacrificing the need for CBRN and armor protection. Moreover, using these systems on Navy platforms is also possible. In this context, we believe that the next step will be the development of an indigenous 120mm turret-mounted mortar system with both muzzle and breech loading capability.

The main purpose of the SM-81 KESKİN system is to provide line-of-sight firing capability up to 2,000m without performing the necessary firing calculations to 80% of the existing mortar systems in fixed locations (outposts, permanent or temporary bases), which use indirect firing principles to fire directly. Thus, it allows for direct firing against unexpected targets. Weighing 385kg, the SM-81 KESKİN mortar system has a minimum range of 100m and a maximum range of 6,100m. The 360-degree rotating base plate of the SM-81 KESKİN system can also be armed with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun, 7.62mm MG-3, or 40mm automatic grenade launcher.

MAM-TFDLS Floating Decoy and Launcher System

The MAM-TFDLS is a ship-deployed surface floating passive RF soft-kill countermeasure. Floating Decoys are used as off-board passive targets against RF-based threats (radar-guided missiles, surveillance and fire control radars, etc.) as part of Electronic Countermeasures (ECM), especially as part of the naval electronic warfare concept. 

Within the scope of the Floating Decoy and Launcher Development Project, which was initiated by the Turkish Ministry of National Defense (MoND) R&D and Technology Department with the support of TÜBİTAK and dated back to 2007, a floating decoy and launcher system providing a high Radar Cross Section (RCS) was developed and produced by the TÜBİTAK MAM Materials Institute. This off-board surface floating decoy aims to be caught by the hostile radar by creating a ship-like RCS that is larger than the carrier ship using broadband reflectors on it and deceive the RF-based threat into following it instead of the main target (friendly surface element).

MAM-TFDLS Floating Decoy, which requires a small footprint for installation on the ship, can be inflated with nitrogen in a short time and can operate between -20 °C and 50 °C. MAM-TFDLS Floating Decoy and Launcher System consists of 4 primary subsystems, including Floting Decoy, Inflator System, Launcher System and Canisters, and the Electronic Control Unit. The MAM-TFDLS Floating Decoy and Launcher System, which was approved by the Turkish Naval Forces and issued a NATO Stock Number (NSN, DA 0296913), was successfully tested in the NATO NEMO-2017 Naval Electronic Warfare Trials hosted by the Turkish Naval Forces Command (TNFC) in March 2017 and its scale model was subsequently displayed to the visitors at the TÜBİTAK MAM booth during the IDEF ‘17 Exhibiton in May. A TÜBİTAK MAM official, whom we had the opportunity to meet at the Exhibition, stated that the system successfully deceived the fire control radar of the ship, which was acting as the hostile, and the floating decoy got locked instead of the friendly ship