Having made Turkey's most populous city a hot spot for aerospace and technology enthusiasts over the past week, Teknofest Istanbul, with its quality and volume, has proved the thesis that ranks it among the top events in the world. Turkey's largest technology and aerospace fair offered plenty of the latest examples of national tech innovations to its visitors, and displayed not only the technological achievements, but also validated Turkey's progress over other countries in producing vehicles of different kinds and equipment indigenously. Teknofest aimed to exhibit the country's rapid advances in technology and created public awareness irrespective of age.
Co-organized by the Turkish Technology Team Foundation (T3) and the Industry and Technology Ministry, the festival enjoyed an influx of primarily young people, as well as science and technology enthusiasts and visitors from all segments of society, from all professions and from all age groups and social environments. It managed to beat all previous expectations and hosted some 1.7 million visitors at the end, exceeding last year's figure and the target for this year. It welcomed 450,000 visitors in the first four days, while on Saturday alone it saw 570,000 citizens arriving at the now-closed Atatürk Airport. Last year's premier festival, hosted by the new Istanbul Airport, was visited by over half a million people. This year, attendance was expected to double. Together with Sunday's figures, the event reached 1.720.000 domestic and international visitors.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attended the festival in Istanbul on Saturday, where he reiterated once again that such events served as great inspiration to young people who have dreams for their country's future.
"I see this place as a platform that shows what our young people can do, even with very limited opportunities in the field of technology," Erdoğan said.
The festival featured numerous activities and competitions such as aviation shows, seminars, workshops, a drone championship, contests and concerts. Visitors to the festival, including students of all ages, flocked to also take part in tech company activities to experience augmented reality, coding and digital technologies.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signs Baykar Makina's latest armed drone Akıncı, Istanbul, Sept. 21, 2019.
There were different levels of technology competitions, starting from primary school to university. Competitors competed in a range of 19 categories from aviation to automotive, from artificial intelligence to simulations, and from Underwater Autonomous Vehicles to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and more.
"This year, Teknofest has broken a record with nearly 17,400 teams and 2,000 finalists, 50,000 contestant applications and 10,000 finalists in all 81 provinces of Turkey and 122 countries," the president added.
TURKEY AIMS TO BE MANUFACTURER OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES
In line with these goals, Erdoğan also said that Turkey wanted to be the manufacturer of new technologies, not just a market, and it was time for it to grow its global competitive power and establish its technological independence. In his address, the president also stressed that the leading international researchers program will continue in the following years.
The fellowship program was launched last November and used by nearly 250 international researchers from top-100 global universities and high-level public and private sector institutions. Within the scope of the fellowship, 127 top-level scientists from 21 countries – mostly Turkish expatriates – were chosen to conduct research in Turkish laboratories.
"Senior researchers who have come to Turkey under this program will conduct scientific studies in a rich research environment and hopefully they will set an example to our youth," Erdoğan said.
"Some 127 senior researchers, 98 of whom are Turkish and 29 foreigners, will benefit from this program and will have important roles in crucial research and development projects," he added.
VISITORS SAW MULTIPLE TECH MARVELS
Dozens of technological marvels, produced by local companies via Turkey's own national known-how and resources as a result of hard work and intensive research and development (R&D) processes, have met visitors during the six-day event.
Visitors had plenty to see, from UAVs, artifi
cial intelligence (AI) software, civil and military aircraft, to weapons, rockets, flying cars, unmanned vessels, robots, autonomous and electric cars, engines and communication systems.
Turkey's technological progress can be seen in every field, particularly in the production of UAVs.
Leading unmanned aerial platform and UAV developer Baykar Makina showcased its latest armed drone Akıncı, an upgraded version of the company's trademark platform Bayraktar TB2 armed drone, for the first time in
Dubbed "the flying fish," the Akıncı drone is an important step for Baykar to upgrade its UAV technology and has attracted a great deal of attention during the six-day event. The Akinci with nearly 1.5 tons of load can fly at an operational altitude of 40,000 feet and stay in the air for 24 hours.
The Akıncı is equipped with an electronic support pod, air-to-air radars, satellite communication system, barrier-identification radar, synthetic aperture radar, and meteorological radar.
can also perform some tasks of warplanes like air bombardment.
The drone has just recently completed its first engine test and is expected to officially start serving Turkish security forces in 2020. Bayraktar yesterday said they aim for Akıncı to carry out its first flight in October.
On the other hand, Baykar Makine's high-tech flying car prototype also made its debut in public at the Teknofest. The country's first indigenous flying car, Cezeri, was produced in a lightning-fast nine months. Cezeri can currently carry one person but its next version will have room for more. The vehicle is to be used for urban transportation in the future.
The car gets its name from Ismail al-Jazari, one of the great Muslim inventors and engineers of the Islamic Golden Age who lived during the 12th century in eastern Anatolia.
Baykar, established in 1984, produces armed and non-armed drones, control systems, simulators, and avionics systems.
Among others, one of Turkey's largest commercial and defense vehicle producer BMC displayed its newest armored pickup vehicle, which was named Tulga after company officials asked President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to name the vehicle after he inspected the vehicles and had a test drive on Saturday. The company aims to develop at least seven different models of the vehicle.
The vehicle weighs six tons, has 280 horsepower and can carry five people. A machine gun can also be mounted on the back of
the vehicle. The pickup is mine sensitive, has a BR 7 ballistic protection level and is resistant to up to 3 kilograms of TNT. Several other companies and institutions, such as Turkey's defense giant ASELSAN, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), diesel engine producer Erinmotor, defense firm STM, also attended the event and exhibited their products.
TAI exhibited a mockup of the National Combat Aircraft (MMU) for the first time in Turkey at the event.
The mock-up of the fifth-generation MMU was unveiled at this year's Paris Air Show.
The preliminary design activities of the fifth-generation fighter jet received a TL 4.8 billion incentive certificate. The project will employ 3,200 people, with an indirect employment contribution estimated to be around 11,200.
The company showcased a number of other national projects that have attracted a lot of local and international attention.
The HÜRKUŞ training aircraft performed demonstration flights at the festival. The event will also showcased aircraft like the locally-developed T625 multi-purpose helicopter Gökbey, the UAVs ANKA and Aksungur, jet training and light attack aircraft Hürjet and ATAK II, an upgraded version of Turkey's first home-grown T129 Advanced Attack and Tactical Reconnaissance Helicopter (ATAK).
Having attracted a great deal of attention, ATAK performed a popular "Harmandalı" dance on the sidelines of event.
The event also saw ASELSAN for the first time publicly display its smart nano drone. The drone – developed for exploration, surveillance and intelligence purposes – is capable of performing tasks in both open and closed spaces. Thanks to its size, the drone is silent and can barely be seen.
The Göktuğ, Turkey's first air-to-air missile, was also at Teknofest. Developed in line with the needs of the Turkish Air Force by the Defense Industry Research and Development Institute (SAGE) of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), the missile was displayed mounted beneath warplanes in the exhibition area.
Two bomb disposal robots, Ertuğrul and Kaplan, an advanced drone called Serçe, the battle tank Altay – considered among the best in the world – were on center stage for all the world to see at the event.