Turkey exhibits a fascinating performance in the field of defense industry.
While the dependence of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) on foreign countries was 80 percent in 2002, this rate decreased to 35 percent in 16 years.
The current goal is to achieve full independence on critical materials and systems by 2023.
Yesterday morning, I asked the Undersecretary of the Defense Industry Prof. Dr. İsmail Demir, "What is it that was not available before 2002 but was discovered and introduced later on?"
"Stability, will and persistence," he responded.
We can also support this sentence in the form of President Erdoğan's will, persistent follow-up, and thus the motivation generated in the public.
We can simply underrate the foreign dependency in the defense industry.
One does not have the luxury of saying that I bought this product and I can use it as I want.
Let us remind you of an example we gave on the days following July 15:
In an environment in which Turkey request temporary F-16 trainers from Pakistan due to Turkey's military pilot shortage, and Pakistan "affirmed" such a request, the U.S. has exerted its contractual rights and did not allow this.
Foreign dependence, especially military dependence on a country like the U.S., can often confront us both as a high cost and an operational limitation.
On the other hand, remembering the contribution of the domestic and national orientation in the field of the defense industry to the success achieved in the Afrin operation in a short time may be a good example to appreciate the value of such efforts.
Defense Industry Undersecretary İsmail Demir gave another piece of good news during our talk: "We will have a new combat helicopter. It is better than "ATAK". Soon you will hear about it," he said.
According to Demir, the ATAK helicopter is in the Top 5 list among its counterparts.
As a matter of fact, we see that these and similar products are becoming remarkable in international markets.
In 2002, there was not even one Turkish defense industry company among the world's 100 biggest defense industry companies; currently four companies have managed to enter this list.
Ismail Demir says that a good potential momentum has been achieved so far and that exports of defense industry products can be boosted after a certain threshold is overcome.
For example, ATAK helicopters can experience a surge in demands since it is among the top five combat helicopters in the world and its performance can be observed better in time.
Let’s move on from the issue of the S-400 air-to-surface defense missiles, which has become our "national matter," to the F-35 warplanes.
From time to time, we know that the U.S. had some reactions that meant, “Either cancel the order of the S-400 missiles or forget about the F-35 warplanes.
The fact that even India, which is not a member of NATO, was exposed to sanction threats recently involves the risk that this issue can show up in the form of annoying pressures for Ankara.
Demir speaks in a language complementing the clear framework drawn by the political administration:
“It is not even a matter of discussion to give up the S-400s.The agreement has already been signed and payments are being made. There's no point in talking about it anymore. In this sense, this matter has been shut. Turkey, as a result of its research related to air defense systems, determined that it is the best.”
The oppressors themselves know that Turkey holds a justifiable position against the U.S.
However, it can be seen that the pressures are made based on "brute force" in the form of sanction threats rather than on a justifiable basis.
Naturally, the threat of sanctions or brute force must also be based on an excuse.
Well, is the claim that the S-400 system will endanger the confidential information of F-35 warplanes or, more technically, would endanger radar invisibility a good excuse to bring Turkey into line?
Claims that the U.S. was trying to convince Ankara to give up its S-400 purchase recently have already reached our ears.
It seems that the truth of the matter is not like that.
As in other false rationalizations, Ankara has responded to its interlocutors with a direct stance.
The following statements of Demir summarize the situation:
"Norway has F-35 warplanes. As it is known, the S-400 systems in Russia detect F-35 warplanes when they take off. So far, a clear statement has not been made to us about this issue.
They may regard the introduction of a Russian system into Turkey as a long-term loss. Unfortunately, it is claimed that the F-35 will be exposed in the radars. It's a claim we don't agree with. We do not take a step to worry our addressees.
The F-35 warplane project is a project of which Turkey is not a customer, but a partner.
The good news is that the stick that has been shown so far to give up the S-400s has not affected the project's timetable.
Demir said, “We make our payments. Trainings continue. Apart from our addressees, other political approaches have no value. There is no delay in timetable.”
However, in order to see Washington's true intentions, it may be necessary to wait for July 2019 in the first place.
It will be better to watch closely what will happen until the first delivery of the S-400 missiles, for which all agreements are concluded and the payments are being made.