“One day, humankind will walk in the sky without airplanes, visit planets and, maybe, send us news from the moon… Our duty is to ensure that we are not left far behind the West.” Mustafa Kemal Atatürk spoke these words in 1936 to inspire the people of the fledgling nation of Turkey. Turkey’s aerospace and defense (A&D) sector has since progressed, but remains far from its ambitious 2023 goal to become one of the world’s top-ten defense producers.
The resurgence of Turkey’s A&D industry began in the 1980s at a time when the country 2.5 as heavily dependent on foreign countries for critical technologies. An arms embargo prompted the government to rethink its policies and develop an independent A&D industry that could reduce Turkey’s dependence on foreign technology. The guiding strategy was to increase the share of local content in production, which was to be achieved by encouraging technology transfer, strategically allocating offset requirements—or portions of projects that required domestic development—to major projects, and procuring large A&D projects to strengthen the local knowledge base.