Turkey: with Baykar, national defense technology gains momentum

Baykar’s General Manager Haluk Bayraktar answered the questions of TVNET Editor-In-Chief İsmail Halis in a joint live broadcast aired on the digital platforms of Yeni Şafak, TVNET and GZT, YeniSafak reports. “Turkey used to procure helicopters, drones and tanks from overseas. These purchases have all been cancelled. We said that we would locally produce these and a will was put forth. This was only a dream 15 years ago, but we advanced to today step by step,” Bayraktar said.

Turkey with Baykar national defense technology gains momentum
Baykar today plays a critical role in pioneering the unmanned aerial system (UAS) market in Turkey (Picture source: Baykar)

“We started off with a team of seven or eight people. We did not get any state funding or loans. An entire system of a country cannot be changed in a single moment, we experienced many things for the first time by learning step by step. The will put forward by the Defense Industry Presidency was very important,” he added.

Baykar was established in 1984 by mechanical engineer Özdemir Bayraktar during the indigenization of Turkey’s automotive industry. Baykar today plays a critical role in pioneering the unmanned aerial system (UAS) market in Turkey. It is a prime mover in the build-up of the Turkish defense industry. “The production model implemented by Turkey after the 2000s is critical. When we say we produced armed and unarmed drones, these have meaning far beyond the military technology field. We are overcoming learned helplessness. Simply, we have overcome the view that Turkey cannot produce technological developments that occur outside the country, and changed the belief that others produce the best while we just purchase and use,” Bayraktar said.

“To set up all infrastructure from research and development to design and production is called the national technology move. Technology is rapidly developing. We live in the fourth industrial revolution. There is a great race. Countries that produce products with high added value rise quickly. Turkey can race by determining a strategy based on 10 to 20 years ahead. We may not be able to compete in some fields, but we could a decade from now,” he added.

The Baykar general manager emphasized that one of the advantages domestic production had over foreign purchases was that the associated costs were much cheaper. Bayraktar stated that there were 10 active technology studios in Istanbul alone. Four indigenous Bayraktar TB2 drones cost the same as one IAI Heron Israeli-produced drone, he said.
“The rate of Turkey’s domestic defense production rate was 20 percent in 2002, and this figure now stands at approximately 65 percent. However, our armed drones have a domestic defense production rate of 93 percent,” Bayraktar said.

Turkey's aviation and defense industry exports saw an increase of nearly 14 percent, reaching over $900 million in the first half of 2018, versus the same period last year.
The aviation and defense industry sectors made up most of the exports to the U.S. - $342.9 million, followed by Germany with $116.9 million.