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Turkey seeks increased arms exports

  |   Aug. 28, 2012 at 4:35 PM
ISTANBUL, Turkey, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- The Turkish government is making determined efforts to promote its indigenously produced armaments.

To that end the Turkish defense industry plans to promote its military products at least eight international defense and security exhibitions in 2013.

The Turkish defense industry exports to nearly 60 countries, garnering sales in 2012 worth more than $1 billion.

Turkish Undersecretariat for Defense Industries international cooperation department head Lutfi Varoglu said the most important of the exhibitions will be the IDEX exposition, scheduled for next May in Istanbul.

Varoglu added that other important shows for Turkish defense contractors include the Goda in Oman in January; the February IDEX exhibition in the United Arab Emirates; Laad in Brazil, April 9-12; the F-AIR COLOMBIA in Colombia in July; Brunei's BRIDEX and the U.S. AUSA, both in October and Thailand's Defense and Security exposition and the United Arab Emirates Dubai air show, both scheduled for November 2013.

Varoglu noted that Turkish defense companies have participated in eight international fairs and visited six countries, with sales of Turkish defense products to Arab Gulf countries increasing as a result, Balkans Business News reported.

Even as Turkey increases its armaments exports, it remains an important market for foreign defense contractors.

By 2016 Turkey will spend up to $8 billion in defense purchases as its exports reach $2 billion, Turkey's Undersecretariat for Defense Industries said.

Turkey's planned foreign armaments purchases under its updated 2012-16 strategic program include about 100 U.S. made Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation stealth aircraft and U-214 submarines from Germany.

Turkey is also meeting with four key foreign defense manufacturers on a $4 billion Long Range Air and Missile Defense Systems project.

The Turkish Ministry of Defense said that Turkey's defense budget for fiscal 2012 contains a 7.4 percent increase over 2011 defense spending, comprising 1.3 percent of the gross domestic product for 2012.

A major point of disagreement between Turkey and foreign arms manufacturers seeking to enter the Turkish market involves the transfer of sensitive military technology.

Lockheed Martin, which is competing to supply the Turkish navy with six Salih Reis class frigates, is gridlocked over Turkish demands on some of the technical aspects of the vessels' missile integration. Some Turkish navy officials also oppose mounting AN/SPY-1 naval radar systems on the frigates, preferring instead to use the indigenously developed Cok Amaclı Faz Dizinli Radar system rather than the U.S. system.

The Turkish navy already operates two Salih Reis class frigates, which offer protection from aerial threats and improve the reconnaissance and early warning capabilities of the naval forces. Turkish military officials said that they rejected an earlier offer by Britain's BAE Systems PLC because of cost concerns and the tardiness the British side in submitting a firm bid for the contract.

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