Negotiations between Turkey and Russia for the purchase of S-400 missile defense systems are near completion, Parliamentary Defense Committee head Yusuf Beyazıt recently told Daily Sabah, adding that Turkey's efforts in developing a fully local defense industry for the past 15 years have also been gradually paying off.
"According to the latest information I gathered, the negotiations are at the final stage," Beyazıt said, adding that Ankara aims to transfer the technology.
"What is significant here is that Turkey ensures the security of its soil," he said, asserting that a possible S-400 deal would not affect Turkey's relations with NATO.
Accusing NATO of not quite helping Turkey in its fight against terrorist groups such as Daesh and the PKK, Beyazıt recalled recent Daesh shelling and missile attacks in the Turkish border provinces of Hatay, Kilis and Gaziantep.
On top of that, Beyazıt asserted that some of Turkey's allies have put obstacles in the way of its counterterrorism fight. "Our allies left us alone in Operation Euphrates Shield. Some of them put hurdles in our way rather than support us. Germany, for example, withdrew its missile defense system stationed in Malatya [in eastern Turkey] at a time when PKK and Daesh terrorism was at its peak," he said.
Beyazıt said that Turkey is one of the most important member states in NATO, but countered that Ankara prioritizes its national security and the future of its citizens.
Apart from the S-400 negotiations with Russia, Beyazıt said that Turkey also has "very close cooperation" with the United Kingdom and Pakistan in terms of the defense industry.
Turkish national defense industry booming
Beyazıt also said that Turkey's efforts to develop a completely national defense industry has already been paying off, as meeting the needs of the country with national projects and resources has dramatically improved, increasing to 75 percent from 25 percent in 2002.
Exemplifying Turkey's own defense projects, Beyazıt said drone projects such as the ANKA and Bayraktar have made Turkey one of few countries in the world active in defense industries. He also said that the Turkish-made T-55 infantry rifle and KNT-76 sniper rifle have been delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).
ATAK helicopters and Hürkuş training planes have successfully passed tests and been offered to the Turkish military, Beyazıt said, adding that the country's defense industry has also knuckled down to make anti-tank and guided missiles.
Turkey's defense industry sector has also seen an increase in turnover figures 11 times over the past 15 years, Beyazıt said. Explaining that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) governments have invested heavily in the efforts to establish a 100 percent Turkish defense system for the past 15 years, he said that the turnover of the Turkish defense industry jumped from TL 1.6 billion to TL 17.65 billion ($456.37 million to $5.03 billion).
Beyazıt asserted that Turkey is the leading country globally in terms of allocating the biggest budget for research and development projects when based on the gross domestic product (GDP). "We are following a policy of developing our own projects with our own resources he said. "The number of projects was 66 in 2002, and there are 460 projects in the defense industry now."