Latest World News: Erdoğan hails record first-half defense exports, sets $6 billion mark for 20

Defense makers in Trkiye made record deliveries in the first half of the year, with the country’s president stressing expectations of continued momentum and a new all-time high by the end of 2023.

“We achieved a record export value of $2.37 billion in the first six months of this year. Our target in 2023 is $6 billion,” Recep Tayyip Erdoan said in a video message at the 16th International Defense Industry Exhibition (IDEF) 2023.

“I think we will reach our export target by the end of the year, and even exceed this figure.”

The IDEF, one of the biggest defense events in the world, opened on Tuesday and will continue until Friday. The show exhibits a range of defense products including land vehicles, weapons, simulators, radars, sonars, naval platform solutions, aviation systems, missiles, logistics vehicles, supply equipment and security systems.

Trkiye’s defense industry has undergone a profound transformation over the past two decades, in a breakthrough that has been spurred by a score of Western embargoes. It aimed to reduce external dependence on Western weapons through innovative engineering initiatives and domestically developed technologies and to ensure self-sufficiency.

This campaign spurred the development of local air, land and sea platforms, which ultimately helped Trkiye secure multi-billion dollar contracts in recent years.

Its vehicle capabilities, spearheaded by its combat drones, have sparked unprecedented demand that has seen Trkiye’s defense industry exports hit a record high of over $4.4 billion in 2022.

The figure is expected to rise above $10 billion in the near future, Vice President Cevdet Ylmaz said at the IDEF opening ceremony in Istanbul.

The localization campaign helped Trkiye reduce its foreign dependency in the defense industry from around 80% in the early 2000s to around 20% today.

Erdoan said Trkiye is now “meticulously” implementing 850 different projects that will leave their mark on the industry. It compares to only 62 run in 2002.

Trkiye attaches “great importance” to the development of its defense industry, “despite the many obstacles, secret and open embargoes we face”, he noted.

Ylmaz said that Trkiye is located in a geography where conflicts are intense, adding that “past experiences show that Trkiye’s independence depends on the design and production of defense products”.

Turkey’s defense industry is a vast ecosystem that develops its own products with its global contractors, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), research institutes, technology and industrial clusters, he added.

The vice president said Trkiye had a defense industry budget of about $5.5 billion in 2002, compared to $90 billion today. He informed that the sector has 3,000 companies and more than 80,000 employees.

The replacement of Western technology with locally developed weapons dates back to the origins of Trkiye’s national arms industry, which Ankara has pushed since the US arms embargo of the 1970s following its military intervention on the island of Cyprus, prompted by a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece’s annexation of the island. Trkiye acted as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence.

“The Turkish defense industry sector has written a success story that has been followed with admiration by the whole world in recent years,” Erdoan said.

“Our industry has a proven track record with armored vehicles, artillery, rockets, air defense systems and all manner of conflict-tested weapons and radar systems.”

Among Trkiye’s most sought-after products are armed drones, piloted in part by the famous TB2 Bayraktar produced by the private company Baykar.

Erdoan hailed Trkiye’s capabilities in drone technology, saying it was among the top three countries in the world in this field.

Reaping the rewards of Erdoan’s diplomatic efforts, Baykar signed a deal last week to sell drones to Saudi Arabia in what would mark the biggest defense deal in Trkiye’s history.

The value of the transaction has not been made public. Baykar said the deal included the export of its historic Aknc combat drone, the bigger brother of its battle-tested Bayraktar TB2.

“During our visit to the Gulf countries last week, we signed the biggest export contracts in our history for defense industry products,” Erdoan said.

“We expect new ones to be added to these deals at IDEF 2023,” he noted.

Bayraktar TB2 has made a name for itself around the world and demand for the drone has skyrocketed after taking part in conflicts in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan. Interest has further increased following its use by the Ukrainian military to thwart Russian forces.

Baykar has signed deals to sell TB2 to at least 30 countries to date, including four NATO member states and two European Union member states. He finally signed a $367 million contract last month with Kuwait for TB2s.

“Trkiye, which is one of 10 countries that manufacture its own warship, is also a major exporter in this field,” Erdoan said.

In what marked the final milestone, Trkiye commissioned its long-awaited largest warship in April, bolstering its naval capabilities and making the country one of the few countries in the world with a domestically-built aircraft carrier.

Destined to be the country’s flagship, the multipurpose amphibious assault ship TCG Anadolu will also be the first ship in the world with an air wing composed mainly of unmanned aircraft.

The carrier’s fleet is expected to consist primarily of Baykar’s Bayraktar TB3, a short-runway capable version of TB2. The aircraft, the first of its kind to be able to fold its wings, is expected to complete its testing phase by the end of 2023.

Another of Baykars’ signature platforms, the Kzlelma unmanned fighter jet, will also be able to take off and land on the TCG Anadolu.

“We have put the TCG Anadolu, which we can call the world’s first ‘drone ship’, into the service of our navy. We are taking drone piloting, which we started with Aknc, to a very different dimension with our Kzlelma unmanned combat aircraft,” Erdoan said.

Erdoan also referred to the 5th generation fighter aircraft developed in the country. Codenamed KAAN, the aircraft was developed to replace the F-16s in the Air Force Commands fleet and is expected to be phased out from the 2030s. KAAN made its runway debut and performed its first test taxi after starting its engines for the first time in mid-March.

“We carry out the production processes (of KAAN) step by step,” said the president.

Ankara not only seeks to sell products, but aims to establish long-term partnerships and develop joint projects, he noted.

“We are pleased to present our knowledge and experience in the defense industry for the benefit of our friends.”

Ylmaz echoed Erdoan’s view and said, “We are not a country that shows jealousy and greed like others.”

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An Overview of Global Events in 2023

In 2023, the world witnessed a myriad of events that left a lasting impact on global affairs. From political developments and economic shifts to environmental challenges and breakthroughs in science and technology, the year was marked by significant changes and a sense of urgency for collective action. Here’s an overview of some of the latest world news in 2023.

Political Unrest and Diplomatic Strides:
In the political arena, several regions experienced unrest and geopolitical tensions. The ongoing conflict in the Middle East continued to dominate headlines, with efforts towards peace and stability remaining elusive. However, there were also moments of diplomatic breakthroughs as nations engaged in dialogues to ease tensions and work towards lasting solutions.

Economic Transformations:
The global economy faced both challenges and opportunities. Trade disputes between major powers affected markets, while some countries grappled with debt crises. On the other hand, emerging economies showed resilience and promising growth, fueling optimism for a more balanced global economic landscape.

Technological Advancements:
Innovation surged forward in the tech industry, with breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and space exploration. Quantum computing achieved milestones, promising radical transformations across industries. Renewable energy sources gained traction, with many countries setting ambitious goals to combat climate change.

Climate Crisis and Environmental Resilience:
As the climate crisis intensified, extreme weather events wreaked havoc in various parts of the world. Wildfires, hurricanes, and floods reminded humanity of the urgent need for climate action. In response, governments and communities across the globe doubled down on efforts to reduce carbon emissions, invest in sustainable infrastructure, and protect biodiversity.

Health and Pandemic Management:
Health remained a global priority as countries continued to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. With the emergence of new variants, vaccination efforts and public health measures remained crucial to curbing the spread of the virus. There were also significant advancements in medical research and technology, offering hope for better preparedness in handling future health crises.

Sports and Cultural Milestones:
Amidst the challenges, the world found moments of joy and unity through sports and culture. International sporting events brought together athletes from diverse backgrounds, promoting solidarity and camaraderie. Cultural exchanges and celebrations showcased the richness of human diversity and fostered mutual understanding.

In conclusion, the year 2023 was a dynamic period filled with significant events that shaped the course of history. From political unrest to technological advancements and environmental challenges, the world witnessed the complexities of the global landscape. While obstacles remained, there were also encouraging developments and collaborative efforts towards a more sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous future for all nations. As we move forward, the lessons learned from these events serve as a reminder of the importance of collective action and cooperation to address shared global challenges.