Thursday, 20 March 2014 00:00

Turkish Defense Industry Development and Role in the New World Order

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Turkey, which has had a say in the defense industry until now, has reached the level of competing in the same arena as countries such as the United States, Russia, England, Germany and France, and it is unthinkable that it will not be able to stand out from these countries and have a say in the defense industry by using its geographical position superiority. These countries in question meet 76% of the world defense industry. Turkey has to compete with about 200 countries for the remaining 24%.

In order to understand the status of the defense industry we are in today and to reveal that we can become an indispensable force in the defense industry, we need to briefly look at the history of the Turkish Defense Industry.

Turks have been known as a warrior nation throughout history and have been the nightmare of all the nations. The Turkish Nation, which has a warrior spirit, has used its combat tools and equipment extremely efficiently on the battlefields. For this purpose, Turkish armies are equipped with the best offensive and defensive weapons according to the requirements of the modern era. In periods when the mines were not used extensively, they furnished the battlefields with modern weapons they made from wood.

With the use of the iron mine in the war industry, processing war weapons from iron has become an art rather than an industry for the Turks. Thanks to these features, they produced excellent war weapons and equipment such as swords, shields, pikes, spears and arrows. Thus, the Turks succeeded in ruling many regions thanks to their extremely perfect processing of iron.
It is seen that the Turks used iron not only in assault equipment but also in defense equipment. It has also been observed that they use helmets, armor and shields to ensure safe and mobile navigation in battlefields. In addition to these weapons, they have benefited from horses in a way that they have high mobility in battlefields and they have been quite adept at using weapons on horseback. Although other nations also used these weapons which used by the Turks, the fact that the Turks used these weapons with lightness and efficiency that would provide superiority to the enemy armies, this situation gave Turks a privilege.

The Turkish defense industry showed a significant development during the Seljuk period and when Tzachas captured İzmir, the first Turkish Shipyard was established there. During the Ottoman period, the Turkish Defense Industry reached its peak. On land, it has developed the defense industry with Djebedji, Artillery and Humbaracı. The Ottoman Empire aimed to be strong in the seas and had the strongest navy and shipyards of the era.

The Ottoman Empire achieved these developments in the defense industry entirely with indigenous resources. Selling iron to the enemy means giving them a weapon. Acting with its principle, the Ottomans prevented these resources from being sold abroad. It attached importance to specialization and increased the industrial cities for this purpose. However, from the end of the 17th century, the Ottoman defense industry was delayed in pursuing technical developments and by the beginning of the 19th century, it had to leave its bright days behind.

After the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey attached importance to the defense industry and laid the foundation of weapons factory in Kirikkale in 1924. After this date, artillery and light weapon repair and bullet production factories were established in Ankara, Kayaş and Mamak until 1938. On February 10, 1937, Nuri Demirağ and Selahattin Alan opened the first private aircraft factory.  In the field of air defense industry, Eskişehir aircraft factory in 1925 and Kayseri aircraft factory in 1926 were established. As a private sector, Vecihi Hürkuş has carried out aircraft production works. In 1948, the Turkish Aeronautical Association started aircraft production in Atatürk Forest Farm.

Unfortunately, all these attempts were stopped as a result of not being able to see the future, mismanagement and American Marshall aids, and turned into organizations that can only carry out maintenance and repair activities. During this period, the state withdrew from the defense industry and the factories were not used. After the 1974 Cyprus Peace Operation, our defense industry entered a different turn after the embargo imposed by the United States and stepped from external dependence to national projects.

Aselsan, Havelsan, İşbir, Aspilsan military foundation companies were established and national projects were initiated. At the end of the 1990s, Turkey gained a lot of experience with the development of the defense industry, which it has been implementing since the 70s. In many of these projects, Turkey tried to use domestic technology and resource power.  Following the "Turkish Defense Industry Policy and Strategy Principles" approved by the Council of Ministers in 1998 and the Strategic Plan of "Defense Industry Undersecretariat" 2007-2011, Turkish Defense Industry has entered a new era.
In recent years, the region where the world economy has been concentrated has been the Middle East and Far East countries, also where Turkey located. Turkey, which is also located in a geopolitical transit route between European and Middle Eastern countries, has become very important. Turkey, which has continued its defense industry as dependent on the outside countries, has obtained the needs of its own Armed Forces from its own resources in the last 10 years and has increased its exports to the other states.

The radical changes in the Middle East and North African countries and the partial war situation have increased the importance of the defense industry in this region. It has so happened that the defense industry has been the most important factor in determining the economic and political power of countries in the global process. In this period of rapid technological development, the development of the defense industry has also accelerated. Countries have to modernize their existing armed forces according to the developments in the defense industry in order to stand up against this change and to ensure their deterrence at the highest level.

Turkey, which has had a say in the defense industry until now, has reached the level of competing in the same arena as countries such as the United States, Russia, England, Germany and France, and it is unthinkable that it will not be able to stand out from these countries and have a say in the defense industry by using its geographical position superiority. These countries in question meet 76% of the world defense industry. Turkey has to compete with about 200 countries for the remaining 24%.
As a matter of fact, Turkish Defense Industry managed to increase its exports by 43% as of 2012. Combining its support with the right strategy and marketing, our defense industry has managed to export a wide range of products to many countries like Rwanda and UK. Among the countries we export to, there are giants such as Russia, France and Germany. The item we export the most was aircraft and helicopter parts, and secondly jet parts and armored vehicles.

A total of 297 million dollars was exported in aircraft and helicopter parts, while this figure was 218 million dollars in turbo jets and 108 million dollars in armored vehicles.  In total, our exports increased by 43% compared to the previous year and reached 1 billion 262 million dollars. Interestingly, the USA took the first place among the countries Turkey export. Considering that our export figure for 2008 was 600 thousand dollars, the point reached is not underestimated.
In the words of the Defense and Aerospace Exporters Union, the Turkish defense industry, which ultracrepidated, has been the sector that increased its export figures the most as of 2012.  The Turkish defense industry, which designs and manufactures all systems in the land vehicles sector by our Turkish engineers, has come to meet 54% of its own needs from its own resources.

An increase and density is expected on tanks, armored vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles and helicopters, which take the first places in production and sales in the world defense industry, in addition to warfare weapons and equipment and their spare parts, which are currently exported in the export volume of the Turkish defense industry. Turkey's cooperation in the defense industry, especially with countries located in its geography, will provide an opportunity to develop our country in the world defense industry sector. If our defense industry, which is at an advanced and important point in land vehicles, comes to an advanced point in marine vehicles, we will be one of the leaders in this sector. 

The Turkish defense industry, which is in a more advantageous position in the eyes of Islamic countries than other countries, will be able to capture the technological power of the age in land, navy and air defense systems in a short time if it manages to meet defense industry expenditures in North Africa and Middle East Islamic countries while continuing its exports to the United Arab Emirates and Europe.

The USA comes first among the countries that export the defense industry to the Islamic countries defined as the Middle East. England have the second share in this region. Russia and other European countries follow England.  The dynamism in the Middle East and especially in the Gulf countries indicates that there will be a continuous increase in defense industry expenditures.
Saudi Arabia spends the most on defense industry in the Middle East. Together with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates constitute the 60% of defense industry expenditures in this region. 2/3 of this ratio belongs to Saudi Arabia.  If the future situation of Iraq and Syria is also evaluated, this regional market will come to an important point.

The Turkish defense industry will be in a position to change the balances in the world defense industry sector, if it succeeds in increasing the export figures of the Central Asian Turkic Republics, Far East and Asian countries, which it has taken into its defense industry export targets for 2023, and if it takes advantage of its natural advantage of its geographical position.
If we take a brief look at the defense expenditures of some countries that the Turkish defense industry has targeted for exports, we realize that these goals are not imaginary at all. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) 2012 world military expenditure report, the defense industry expenditures of some countries are as follows.
        Table: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) 2012 Report

As can be seen, the defense expenditures of the countries that are included in the export goals cannot be underestimated. Another point is that if we consider that this region is open to constantly active and aggressive movements, these expenditures will continue to increase rapidly.

Since the industry in Islamic countries does not develop in general, the defense industry is almost non-existent. The vast majority of income in these regions is derived from energy and agriculture. Considering that energy directly affects defense expenditures, it will be understood how technologically advantageous Turkey is when the defense industry is developing.

However, especially in the last century, the Islamic geography has been in constant turmoil and they have been prevented from forming a common market with each other. Energy revenues generated by oil and natural gas revenues are transferred to the USA and European countries in return for defense expenditures. 65% of the world's oil reserves are located in the Middle East region.  The Turkish defense industry is addressing such a rich and promising market. Muslims offer their wealth to the USA and Europeans on their own and deliberately. With the right strategies that Turkey will follow, the defense industry hand in this region can be turned into our country.

It is obvious that the technological superiority to be achieved in the defense industry, which directly affects the world economic development and guarantees the security of the countries, will provide political and economic advantage to Islamic countries. Thanks to a defense industry cooperation partnership to be established between Islamic countries, foreign dependency will decrease, the use of own resources will increase and a Defense Industry that can produce technological products suitable for the requirements of the age will be acquired. Thus, peace, stability and security will come to the fore in Islamic countries with a strong defense industry, where chaos and war will come to an end.

Developments in the last century have shown that the prosperity and peace of Islamic states can only be achieved by being united. Today the European Union (EU) is the most prominent indicator of this. It is the duty of other Muslims to protect the rights of Muslims. It is not right to expect this from non-Muslim states. Because there is no state that does not transfer the economic income of the country it goes to because it will bring peace and tranquility. Today, after the invasion of Iraq, the USA has transferred most of the oil revenues of both Iraq and Kuwait to itself as war expenses.
For this, economic cooperation should be established between Islamic countries. The defense industry has an important place in making the world economies more prominent. Defense industry expenditures of all countries are higher than other expenditures. Education and health expenditures are less than defense expenditures in many countries. Adam Smith’s saying "Defense is more important than wealth" proves this.  No state without a strong defense industry can maintain its economic independence. One day it will surely be occupied by another economic power.
All these show that Islamic States should definitely cooperate in the defense industry. In this way, monetary power will be cycled within itself and economic development will be achieved quickly. Moreover, this union is a kind of command of the Qur'an. In the Qur'an, Muslims are ordered to be in solidarity with each other, help each other and the rich to support the poor. Zakat is a clear indication of this order. By transferring their income to non-Muslim states, Muslims prevent the welfare of other Muslims.

Of course, it is possible to trade with non-Muslims if needed. However, this should be preferred in cases where there is no trade opportunity among Muslims. The 103rd verse of Allah Almighty Ali Imran Surah reads in the abbreviation, he recommended “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah and do not be divided...” In accordance with this verse, we have to do our duty by ensuring our unity and solidarity.

If a defense industry cooperation partnership is established between Islamic countries, victory will be ours not only in the field of defense industry but also in every field. Because Allah gave the good news of this in verse 63 of al-Anfal Surah.
“He brought their hearts together. Had you spent all the riches in the earth, you could not have united their hearts. But Allah has united them. Indeed, He is Almighty, All-Wise.”
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