“What Do You Mean: A Foundation Company?” Remembering the Early Days of Turkish Ground Forces Foundation and Aselsan

By Kaya Yazgan

Issue 68

At these pages of Defence Turkey, I try to write on issues of science and technology and share my observations in the defence industry. I had started to write on a similar subject when was shocked by the news about passing away of my dear friend, my big brother Necip Berkman (past General Manager of Aselsan and STM, past General Secretary of SaSaD – Defence and Aerospace Industries Manufacturers Association). I remembered our venture at first years of Aselsan/Turkish Ground Forces Foundation and suddenly realized that we must write about the atmosphere of defence industry in mid-70’s, a period which is very important in the history of Turkish defence industry. Ret. Gen. Turhan Olcaytu was the Chairman of Turkish Ground Forces Foundation; Mr. Hacim Kamoy the General Manager of Aselsan and we were a handful of young engineers, all graduates of Middle East Technical University. In this issue of Defence Turkey, I say “verba volant, scripta manent - spoken words fly away, written words remain” and try to describe this atmosphere.

40 years ago, the defence industry in Turkey was very different from today’s scene. Defence industry consisted of a government owned arsenal type of weapon/ammunition producer, MKEK and some naval shipyards. United States was the dominant source for high technology products such as communication, electronic warfare equipment, radars, tanks and rockets/missiles etc.  Then came the Cyprus affair in 1974 with resulting embargo on various technologies/components/equipment. On the other hand military operations in Cyprus proved the importance of a reliable communication and triggered developments in Turkish defence sector.