The SAHA Istanbul Defense, Aviation and Aerospace Cluster, Turkey's largest industrial group that has undertaken important responsibilities for the country's defense and aviation industries, is set to open up to foreign markets with new products and capabilities. Assessing the cluster's activities last year, CEO Haluk Bayraktar said that SAHA Istanbul, working to support Turkey's technological transformation and national technology move in defense and aerospace industries, carried out a total of 314 activities in 2018.
Bayraktar added that SAHA Istanbul's administrative staff and teams worked hard for the sake of Turkey's technological development in 2018. Bayraktar said that the teams held some 116 visits and meetings with different companies last year, as well as paid 76 visits to public institutions, organizations and universities.
Bayraktar said that they held 11 board meetings, 21 committee meetings, 13 project meetings and 20 SAHA EXPO meetings. "We also met foreign delegations and nongovernmental organizations nine times throughout the year," he said, adding that they held 14 SAHA Istanbul events and participated in 24 other events.
"We also participated in eight fairs across the country. Now, it is time for us to make our move abroad to transform Turkey into a defense industry exporter. At SAHA Istanbul, we aim to participate in a number of international fairs abroad," he added.
The export performance of the defense sector in 2018 increased by 17 percent compared to 2017. The industry broke its previous export record of $1.7 billion in November and set a new $2.03-billion record at the end of the year.
Bayraktar said that the number of SAHA Istanbul members increased to 342 last year. He added that they held a number of bilateral meetings and workshops with industry representatives, for the development of national and domestic technologies. They also supported critical national systems during these meetings and workshops. He noted that their most striking activity last year was the SAHA EXPO 2018, which was held with the participation of 135 institutions and companies.
He said that Turkey's domestic production capabilities were introduced at the fair. "We had the opportunity to showcase Turkey's development in the defense industry to local and international visitors. The exhibition paved the way for new collaborations in the domestic market as well as overseas. We experienced that when we are united, we can make significant contributions to the nationalization of the Turkish defense industry and we can be a global leader in the sector," said Bayraktar.
Dozens of strategic products, including the Bayraktar TB2 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), considered to be Turkey's national pride, non-flammable and waterproof material Aerojel and a 600-horsepower domestic diesel engine produced by BMC were displayed at the fair for the first time.
The next SAHA EXPO is scheduled for 2020. Bayraktar pointed out that they implemented a number of important projects with the support of SAHA Istanbul members. "A consortium of cluster members has been formed for the air conditioning and cabin pressure system of Hürkuş, a basic training aircraft for the Turkish Air Forces. Under the coordination of SAHA Istanbul, the consortium, including TAI [Turkish Aerospace Industries] is establishing a new company for this purpose."
He underlined that they also have a number of other projects for the aviation industry. "We continue to work on the National Aviation Industry Platform (MİHENK) and Aviation Testing and Certification Center (HATEM). With the founding of MİHENK, we will have created the infrastructure required for TÜRKAK [Turkish Accreditation Agency] that would enable domestic audit firms to issue AS 9100 certificates."
He further added that they have been working to close the qualified personnel gap in the defense and aerospace industries, adding that they established a consortium that would work on laser weapon systems.
According to Bayraktar, companies in the cluster have joined on a 3D printer dust production. Also, works to develop national software, aimed at meeting national needs with open source codes, have been initiated. "At SAHA Istanbul, while contributing to the national technology move, we have been also taking important steps to increase the number of companies that could contribute to Turkey's nationalization move and boost the quality of production."