Skip to main content

After Saudi drone deal, Turkey’s defense industry eyes record export year

Turkey’s military exports could hit a record $7.5 billion this year after a major deal with Saudi Arabia.
A Turkish Bayraktar TB2 combat drone is on view during a presentation at the Lithuanian Air Force Base in Siauliai, Lithuania, on July 6, 2022.

ANKARA — The landmark $3.1 billion deal that Turkey’s leading drone manufacturer Baykar signed with Saudi Arabia last month is expected to boost Turkish military exports to a record level this year and open new avenues of cooperation with the Gulf heavyweight.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Turkey is aiming for $6 billion in defense industry exports this year, but the sales could well surpass that mark to reach $7.5 billion, according to representatives and observers of Turkey’s defense industry sector. 

The deal between Baykar and the Saudi government was signed during Erdogan’s July 18 visit to Saudi Arabia, which marked a high point in fence-mending between Ankara and Riyadh after years of regional rivalry and tensions in the wake of the Arab Spring. Turkey’s economic turmoil and hopes to attract Saudi investment are among the key drivers of the reconciliation quest. While few details have emerged about the defense deal, Baykar representatives have said that it entails the sale of the Bayraktar Akinci combat drones to Saudi Arabia and cooperation in the defense industry, calling it “the biggest defense and aviation export contract in Turkey’s history.” 

Riyadh looks to boost military with 'strategic' deal

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.