Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Milgem, Anka attract Brazil’s Interest

Turkey’s achievements in the defense industry in recent years continue to attract potential new partners such as Brazil, a leading emerging economy.

TCG Heybeliada (F-511)
The potential for cooperation in a good number of projects in the defense industry is expected to be discussed by top-level officials from both sides as Celso Amorim, Brazilian minister of defense, is in Turkey on the occasion of the activation of the office of a military attaché at the Brazilian Embassy in Ankara.

I think we will discuss seven or eight [projects] and then concentrate on two or three of the projects, Amorim told Today’s Zaman on Monday. Buying arms from one another may also come onto the agenda, but the minister particularly stressed the potential for cooperation in joint projects, but noted that it is not possible at this stage to state which projects the two countries may work on together. 

Milgem class Stealth Corvette

Turkey’s homemade corvette with stealth technology and the unmanned aerial vehicle (Anka-Phoenix) together with the attack helicopter Turkey has recently produced with the help of Italian AgustaWestland are some of the leading Turkish weapons Brazil seems to be interested in. You have a corvette which has very high standards very good helicopters. I think the UAV is [also] a possibility, said the minister of defense of Brazil, a country which has been busy redeveloping its own corvette. We can learn from each other and improve each other, added Amorim, a career diplomat who also served for many years as minister of foreign affairs. 

For its part, the South American country is ready to cooperate with Turkey in areas in which it is stronger than Turkey, such as light fighter and civilian jets. Brazil has also been developing its own unmanned aerial vehicles with the help of the Israeli Elbit Systems. Brazil is very good at civilian airplanes, stated Amorim, who sounded hopeful about cooperation, but also noted that the two countries are at present at the learning stage, trying to get to know each other’s capabilities better. 

Satellites may also turn out to be a potential field of cooperation between the two countries. Turkey has been making efforts to produce its own satellite, a field where Brazil, having already produced its own satellite some years ago, is stronger than Turkey. Even satellites. Maybe we can look at it [for possible cooperation as well], the minister commented.

Turkey, having assigned a defense attaché to Brazil three years ago, is also eager to improve defense ties with South America’s largest economy. In an effort to boost bilateral ties, Turkish Minister of Defense smet Ylmaz also paid a visit to Brazil last year. 

As part of the strengthening of relations between the two countries, the exchange of cadets and officers may also come onto the agenda. Noting that courses are usually offered in English at academies of most armed forces in the world, Amorim stated, So, we can receive people from your war colleges, [defense] academies and vice versa. Amorim was received by President Abdullah Gül on Monday and is also expected, on Wednesday, to meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutolu, with whom he is known to have very good personal relations. 

The Turkish defense industry has been developing by leaps and bounds in recent years. As per data from the Defense and Aerospace Industry Manufacturers Association (SaSad), the total industry turnover, including sale of items produced by the civilian aviation industry, reached $4.4 billion in 2011, while the total exports figure amounted to $1.1 billion in the same year. The defense-only figure, which is stripped of civilian aviation items, stands at $817 million. In 2012, defense industry exports, both civilian and military, rose to $1.262 billion, while the figure was only a little over $600 million in 2007, and $850 million in 2010. 

As per the strategic plan of the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) for 2012-16, the industry aims to increase yearly revenue to $8 billion and exports to $2 billion by 2016. Presently ranked 16th in terms of turnover, the industry hopes to place in the top 10 in the world by 2023, the centennial of the foundation of the Turkish Republic. Turkey is also working towards the domestic production of fighter jets, with the first test flight expected to take place in 2023.

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