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Turkey's defense industry still striving for self-sufficiency

Turkey has made significant strides in developing its defense industry during the past four years, but it is still being held back by its dependence on other countries' goods and technologies.
Technicians construct a Turkish Attack and Tactical Reconnaissance Helicopter (ATAK) at the Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc (TAI) factory in Ankara, Turkey, April 28, 2015. TAI, which produces F-16 fighter jets and other military aircraft, could float on the Istanbul stock exchange in the second half of this year, its chief executive told Reuters. Ankara-based TAI was established to co-produce Lockheed Martin's F-16 for the Turkish Air Force in 1984. It is almost wholly owned by the Turkish Armed Forces Fo

Ankara recently hosted an eager crowd at the first Turkish Defense Industry Summit, but all the accompanying fanfare wasn’t enough to hide the most significant flaw in Turkey's own defense program — foreign dependence. All of Turkey’s state-controlled defense industries were represented at the Dec. 12 summit, held at the Presidential Complex and organized by the Defense Industries Undersecretariat (SSM), which is tasked with developing the country's industry and modernization of the Turkish Armed Forces.

The SSM has been under the direct authority of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan since 2017. The Turkish Armed Forces Foundation (TSKGV), the state-controlled giant that owns majority shares in Turkey’s top defense companies, was also moved from the Defense Ministry to Erdogan's desk in 2017.

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