Turkey’s Defence and Armament Policy In A Changing Environment

Turkey is located in a fragile neighbourhood, positioned in the midst of three regions where instability historically prevails: the Caucasus, the Balkans an

Tarih: Issue 26 - January 2011

As of 2009, Turkish defence turnover has reached 2,3 billion dollars while defence exports increased by 40%, reaching a level of 831 million dollars. Indeed, it is a consequence of our recent efforts to diversify our export targets, besides that of transatlantic market.

Strategic partnerships especially in the framework of multinational programmes such as JSF and A400M have been established. In accordance with our current defence industrial strategy Turkey has been investing in progressive technologies and R&D, so as to create an indigenous capability in nanotechnology, MEMS, acoustic sensors, etc. In this framework, Turkish defence companies are seeking strategic partnerships with companies from both sides of the Atlantic as well

Regarding international cooperation, Turkey sets its defence industry policies within the two pillars: NATO as the main platform of the transatlantic cooperation and the European defence and security for which Turkey has made great contributions for decades. These two interlinked pillars shapes also Turkish defence industry?s cooperation activities in global defence market. While having experience in different settings, multilateral cooperation activities in NATO, OCCAR and bilateral ones with US, Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa; Turkish defence industry has also become one of the leading participants of multinational programmes, specifically, A400M and US-led JSF. On the other hand, Turkish defence companies have increased their activities within NATO agencies; many Turkish companies have won contracts from NAMSA and NC3A.

The necessity for more joint efforts is not only derived from the economic rationales in the market, but also has the political and security magnitudes which may vary. Today our alliance is facing a new set of threats, which also have uncertainties embedded unto them; such as terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and problems that might be posed by failed states like humanitarian issues. These threats necessitate our alliance to respond in a collective way. In order to do so, we need to collaborate closely so as to meet the needs of our allied troops in the theater of operation as in Afghanistan today. Interoperability, missile defense and obtaining real time picture of the operational areas are the key requirements of NATO. Thus, the new security environment also draws our policy-formulation on a national basis.

As a good example of interaction between the two pillars, namely NATO and Europe, NATO?s new strategic concept adopted at Lisbon Summit recently deserves also great attention. The Document underlines the need for a strong cooperation between the Alliance and the EU. What is remarkable for Turkey is underlined in the Document promoting involvement of non EU Allies into Common security and defence activities for a stronger NATO-EU relationship. As the NATO General Secretary Rasmussen has underlined previously, the EU should sign a security agreement with Turkey including administrative arrangements with EDA that would grant long-due equal status to Turkey as given to non-EU Norway. As a matter of fact, Turkey has always been one of the main contributors and actors of the European security and defence. .

Another important issue for Turkey is its involvement in OCCAR. Having been a participant of A400M Programme, we view that OCCAR has a potential to be an efficient body to conduct international collaboration projects with its experienced and professional staff. For this reason, we initiated our internal process on the way for membership to OCCAR. In fact, official letters have been conveyed by our Minister of Defence Vecdi Gönül to his counterparts, underlining Turkey?s intentions as such.

Having stressed the OCCAR aspect as an important factor of cooperation, I would like to underline that Turkey perceives the defence industry collaboration perspective in the light of the changing global environment as a three legged stool where three models come upfront:

The existing NATO model where the basis of the international cooperation in the classical sense is to be preserved. As a result, the main platform to be procured should no doubt possess the interoperability aspect of the military sub-systems and render large scale programs feasible in terms of life cycle cost, availability and maintenance, as well as maintaining and enhancing the strategic military dimension in operations.

The second type of model would be that of OCCAR for instance. As I have underlined beforehand, this would serve as a condensed international model where work share simultaneously combined with best value commercial approach in terms of significant sub-contract to be allocated, would demonstrate that an internationally localized programme (as is the case with A400M) would be beneficial to those involved. The DPP (Development, Production Phase) which has its shortfalls in terms of meeting the due calendar date, and difficulties experienced in developing some of the sub-systems of the platform jointly, no doubt also has it overlapping positive effects in terms of industrial sustainability, low cost, exportability of these platforms worldwide; because they would entail some high tech sub systems at a relatively low cost precisely targeted for specific needs and operations derived from multi staffs requirements and assessed/optimised as such. This in turn constitutes would constitute a common platform with replaceable LRUs and ISS pooling.

In the case where the multinational initiative would prove too difficult to be exercised due to diversified international staff requirements of many nations, difficulties pertinent to the management and the necessity that may arise related to a strategic initiative; the 3rd model -the bilateral cooperation model would have to be construed. The Joint Aircraft Career Programme between the UK and France is such an example. As far as Turkey is concerned however, the bilateral model would not only serve the specific need of the end user but it would also, in its own right, boost the existing local defence industry capability, thus allowing a certain share of the work to be performed and manufactured to remain in Turkey. This is actually .a transition from ?only a customer? to ?a player? developing and building systems at least as a second-tier manufacturer in the market place. Through the bilateral model, the intent would be to expand on the existing niche products that have been attained up until today. These are as follows:

Wheeled and tracked armoured vehicles

Composite and steel fast patrol boats

Tactical and MALE type UAVs.

Secure communications systems

Fire control systems.

Moreover, Airbus A320 section 18 productions are planned to be obtained under the A400M Programme while Turkish companies had enormous work shares in the US-led JSF programme, including center fuselage, structural parts and electronic assemblies, which in turn are being reassembled in order to constitute the level of capability and technology gained by Turkish defence industry. In addition, the intention as an end result of these bilateral initiatives would no doubt encompass the objective to expand on these current niche products that I have already mentioned. And this objective would be to the mutual benefit of both sides involved in the sense that these systems would be competitive and relatively low cost in the market, ready to be exported. This model therefore, might be preferred depending on operational needs, configurations to be deployed, cost and calendar due dates.

I should point out that all these changes in the defence market have been reflected in our Defence Strategy as well. A sustainable and competitive defence industry is defined as one of the main objectives, along with attaining defence technology that will provide the Turkish Armed forces with necessary leverages for future defence oriented competency. We set 2 billion dollar export objective by 2016 that shows the capability as well as industrial and technological base we want to attain in near future. In fact, it shows the potential of Turkish Defence Industry and its flexible structure that can adopt itself to the recent challenges and changes in the political and commercial environment.