China Explores Turkish Defence Industry
China’s interest in Turkiye intensifies as the Turkish defence industry progresses. A total of 64 Chinese companies attended the Turkish Defence Industry Fair (IDEF) in July 2023. Chinese Military Newspaper sets the most recent example of it. The People’s Liberation Army Daily 81.cn published an article with the headline, “Turkiye accelerates the promotion of strategic independence in its defence industry, and the results of independent research and development of weapons are beginning to appear.”
The article mentions specific Turkish products such as Hisar, TCG Anadolu (L400), TB2 UAV or KIZILELMA and underlines that the Turkish Defence industry is forced to gain its independence by fighting with the sanctions and states, “The U.S. military assistance once put Turkiye’s defence industry into a development dilemma. However, as the conflict between Turkiye and the United States intensified, Turkiye accelerated its pursuit of an independent development path and continuously enhanced the degree of autonomy in its defence industry.”
The article states that “the Turkish defence industry has embarked on a development path that combines introduction and absorption with independent research and development. According to statistics, Turkiye’s self-sufficiency rate in military equipment was only 20 per cent in 2004, but by 2022, this number will rise to 80 per cent.”
The article gives an example of recent achievements. “In April this year, the Turkish Navy’s first aircraft carrier “Anadolu” was officially commissioned. It is said that 70 per cent of the ship was built independently by Turkiye. It integrates the functions of three large warships: a light aircraft carrier, an amphibious assault ship and a dock landing ship. It is called “the world’s first drone aircraft carrier” and has strong autonomy.” He explains, “It is worth mentioning that the direct reason why “Anadolu” became a “drone aircraft carrier” is that the United States refused to provide Turkiye with vertical take-off and landing fighter F-35B, and Turkiye could only use its own TB-3 drone aircraft, and “KIZILELMA” stealth drones have taken their place.
According to the article, the Turkish defence industry has gained a lot of capacity but not complete autonomy due to the brain drain.