One-hundred-and-fifty high-technology SMEs led the way and established the SA-HA Istanbul Defense and Aerospace Cluster Association. The goal is to gain presence in the million-dollar global market as a "national power."
Turkey has seen a silent revolution in the defense industry. Remaining at the 25 percent level for about 50 years, the share of domestic production in the market rose over 65 percent for the first time in 2016. About 3,000 SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) succeeded in gaining a place along with huge, million-dollar projects for the first time during this period. In the new period, on the other hand, the companies operating in this field prepare themselves for new attacks by clustering. The defense and aerospace clusters recently starting to emerge in Ankara began operating in Istanbul, as well. Over 150 SMEs operating in the Marmara Region came together and led the way, establishing the SAHA Istanbul Defense and Aerospace Cluster Association. The goals of this establishment included several successful companies from Turkey's first unmanned aerial vehicle's manufacturer, the Bakyar Machine, to Turkey's first domestic robot's manufacturer Altınay, are pretty high. Completing its pilot projects and holding its first congress on May 26, SA-HA Istanbul wishes to develop systems on the national level and contribute to aerospace projects. The association, marking this important success by coming together, also has a vision regarding the establishment of certificate centers.
SA-HA Istanbul Secretary General İlhami Keleş said they aimed to direct Turkey's tremendous production potential towards the sectors of defense, aviation and aeronautics with high added values. "We could say that we have just begun our journey. Our aim is to bring together our companies who have gained important achievements along the road and establish a strong structure. We have powerful partners not just in production but also in academics and bureaucracy." Keleş concluded.
The undersecretariat for defense industries decided to open up for SMEs in order to increase its domestic share more over the past years. Within the scope of this decision, the SMEs operating in the organized industrial zones around Turkey were included in the production of the equipment required by the Armed Forces. This system was enough to jump-start the domestic defense industry. The 25 percent domestic share of the defense industry first went up to 45 percent in 2009, later going as high as 65 percent in 2016. The firms began these defense industry clusters by coming together with advanced technology. The number of SMEs operating in the defense industry has since reached over 3,000 across Turkey.
The aim is to manufacture national aircraft
A rapid increase stands out in the number of SA-HA Istanbul's members. Starting with 17 firms last year, the association now has 145 members. Year-end goals include raising that number to 300. In hopes to conduct several joint projects with Turkish Airlines Technic/ HABOM (Aviation Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Center) and other civil aviation institutions, SA-HA Istanbul prepares important roles for itself regarding national commercial aircraft.