At the “BMC’s Next 50 Years” event, organised on January 13 at the site of the BMC Sakarya Karasu Production and Technology Base, BMC disclosed to the public the investments and products that will shape the company for the next half century. Among those witnessing BMC’s vision and enthusiasm for the future were President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; Vice President Fuat Oktay; Süleyman Soylu, Minister of Interior; Hulusi Akar, Minister of National Defence; Mustafa Varank, Minister of Industry and Technology; Ruhsar Pekcan, Minister of Trade; and Mehmet Cahit Turhan, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Over the next 50 years, BMC plans to engage in a broad spectrum of different areas, ranging from commercial to military vehicles; from wheeled to tracked vehicles and rail systems; and from land vehicle engines to aircraft engines. The “BMC’s Next 50 Years” event celebrated the groundbreaking of the facility where these activities will be carried out, and gave the company the opportunity to introduce some of the key products and technologies found within BMC’s portfolio. Following the speeches delivered by the attending officials, the event also featured the Launch Ceremony for the BMC TUĞRA Truck Family; the Commissioning Ceremony for the Advanced Technology Production Line of the BMC Izmir Pınarbaşı Factory; the Starting Ceremony for BMC POWER’s First Indigenous and National Engine; and the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the BMC Sakarya Karasu Production and Technology Base.
Target: $1 Billion in Annual Exports
The first speech of the event was given by T. Yasin Öztürk, Member of the Board at BMC, who greeted all those in attendance. “We welcome you to the present and the next 50 years of BMC,” he said, and continued: “Founded in 1964, and having gained a reputation as a valuable brand through both the services it offers our country and its exports to 80 countries around the world, BMC has been working since 2014 – as part of the strategic partnership between Turkey and Qatar – to advance on the path to becoming a global brand, and by labouring day and night with emphasis on indigenous and national engineering. Being purchased by Turkish and Qatari partners for $360 million following a tender held in an early 2014, BMC was still a highly respected brand at the time. However, its operations had all but stopped in those days, and its 1,500 employees were waiting in their homes for new work to come. Setting out on our journey from that day onwards, we have today reached a point where we can speak of our activities with pride, thanks to the dedicated works carried out with a sincere belief in our goals, and to a total of $1 billion in investment and working capital used in line with a highly detailed work plan covering 10 years.Nowadays, our 3,000 employees are providing services both to our country and to the rest of the world through a portfolio encompassing a broad range of different products, including military armoured vehicles, military tactical and logistic vehicles, tanks, buses, commercial vehicles, rail systems, land and aircraft engines, and transmission systems.
The growing scope of our dreams can no longer fit our current facilities. And so, here at Sakarya Karasu we begin laying the foundations of a BMC Production and Technology Base that covers a 222-hectare area, and which, following construction in several phases, will reach a total enclosed area of 500,000 square metres. We carry out these works with the aim of serving many countries around the world – and Turkey and Qatar in particular – through indigenous and national engineering and production capabilities, with a view to building the next 50 years, and implementing the vision and targets delineated by our President.
I would like to take this opportunity to offer our sincere gratitude to the President, who has instilled in us this courage, vision and national awareness. We would not have been able to accomplish tis without his leadership.
With the full establishment of our technology and production base by 2023, the company’s entire range of activities will provide employment for 10,000, and contribute $5 billion in added value to the national economy every year, while our export target will be in the region of $1 billion.
The first phase of the construction of our facility – the foundations of which we are laying today – comprises 100,000 square metres that will be completed by the end of 2019 following highly intense works, and will become operational in 2020.”
Unmanned AMAZON Ready for Battles of the Future
Öztürk concluded his speech by introducing the AMAZON vehicle that has been designed for both manned and unmanned based on its remote control system. Öztürk then introduced a promotional film with the following words: “Mr. President, you spoke to us last year of the necessity for an unmanned tank. Following this talk, we have included unmanned tanks in our targets. And now, we have a surprise for you. Mr. President, I would like to introduce to you Turkey’s first military unmanned land vehicle, the AMAZON!”
The promotional film on the AMAZON demonstrated the readiness of the vehicle for unmanned missions, and its manoeuvrability in both field conditions and urban areas, listing its characteristics as follows:
- Portable command console that can be set up rapidly and easily.
- Ability to control all features of the vehicle in real-time from a remote location.
- Ability to establish mobile control through another vehicle.
- Integrated weapon system that can be controlled remotely.
- Special safety system that prevents interference from inside the vehicle while the vehicle is being remotely-controlled.
- Real-time 360 degrees visualisation with integrated camera system.
- Command range with a radius of five kilometres under standard conditions, and a radius of one kilometre in urban areas.
- Original design suitable for urban area and asymmetrical warfare environments.
- Stops after assuming a safe position in case of the interruption to the remote control signal.
- Image acquisition even under pitch black conditions with x4 magnification uncooled type thermal camera.
- Lighting provided by IR projectors, suitable for night and blackout conditions.
Full Support from the Ministry of Industry and Technology
The next speaker to take the stand was Mustafa Varank, Minister of Industry and Technology. Describing their perspective for the defence and aerospace sector, Minister Varank said: “Our goal is not to act as subcontractors to international defence industry manufacturers, but to make our indigenous and national defence industry a global brand. We are diligently following every stage, from strategy to design, from the establishment of infrastructure to technological development, and from prototypes to commercialisation.” Minister Varank informed the assembled guests that 700 local patents had been applied by the Turkish defence and aviation industry for over the past 16 years, and that 63 percent of these had been submitted within the past five years.
Noting that, in accordance with the Law on Industrial Zones, the area on which the foundations are being laid has been declared as the “Karasu Individual Investment Area”, Minister Varank outlined the operations that will be carried out at the facility: “We have provided project-based incentives for the production of railed systems, armoured vehicles, miscellaneous land vehicles, defence sector systems, diesel engines and subcomponents. Once this production and technology base is completed, it will provide employment for about 10,000 of our citizens. In addition to the added value it will generate, we forecast a level of exports from this location valued at $1 billion a year. Our support to the company is not limited to the provision of a place of investment or of investment incentives. We cannot think of added value-generating production without R&D, As such, the BMC R&D Centre, in which 269 engineers are employed, benefits from the supports of our Ministry. Furthermore, the company is engaged in 25 projects with TÜBİTAK.”
The Importance of the Private Sector
The next speaker to take the floor was Hulusi Akar, Minister of National Defence. Emphasising the importance of the defence sector, Minister Akar said: “It can be clearly seen that the successful outcomes of our domestic and cross-border antiterrorism operations rest not only on the heroism and sacrifice of Turkish soldiers, but also on the superior technology weapons, vehicles and equipment of war developed by our national and indigenous defence sector. You, by which I mean the workers in the defence sector, are the ones standing behind our Turkish soldiers. While Turkish soldiers have shed blood and written history through these operations, the workers of the defence sector have sweated in factories in support of these soldiers with the equipment they produced. We, as a nation, have grasped that a strong defence sector is an indispensable precondition for [military] success. Indigenous and national production is not just a matter of preference for our country, but an absolute must and an obligation for our survival. To preserve itself in this region, Turkey has to produce its own weapons and equipment of war, and has to be strong, deterrent and successful with its own arms. Rising on our national values and interests with a focus on indigenousness and innovation, the defence sector will be one of the primary driving forces behind our efforts to reach our targets for 2023.”
Following these remarks, Minister Akar shared his views about the BMC Sakarya Karasu Production and Technology Base: “With its foundations laid based on this perspective [of indigenousness], the facility will engage in R&D works and indigenous production, with none of the restrictions on modern weapons, vehicles and equipment of warfare that come with foreign company technologies or licenses.”
Minister Akar went on to speak about the private sector in particular: “It is an important development that, aside from public enterprises, we are seeing a rapid increase in the share of the private sector in the field of defence. To meet our security needs, and hence the needs of the Turkish Armed Forces, in a timely manner, it is vital that we create indigenous capabilities, enhance the effective and efficient use of the country’s resources, and benefit from the advanced technologies and rapidity of the private sector. The handover of the 1st Main Maintenance Centre in Arifiye should be considered within the context of this necessity.”
BMC TUĞRA Unveiled
Minister Akar’s speech was followed by the Launch Ceremony for the BMC TUĞRA Truck Family. Following a special dance performance, two members of the product family made an appearance in front of the audience, entering the venue from either side. The launch event also featured the screening of a new promotional film for TUĞRA. The featured also the Austin TM-140, one of BMC’s very first truck models that appeared in the 1977-made Turkish film Selvi Boylum Al Yazmalım (The Girl with the Red Scarf).
The BMC TUĞRA product family consists of the Tow-Truck Series, Road Series and Construction Series.
Our Deterrence has to be at the Highest Level
The final speech at the event was delivered by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. At the beginning of his speech, President Erdoğan congratulated all those who had contributed to the realisation of the BMC Production and Technology Base, and expressed his gratitude to the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim, reminding that the project involves a Turkey-Qatar partnership.
President Erdoğan went on to speak about the latest developments on Turkey’s agenda, while also touching on topics related to the defence and aerospace sector: “Our deterrence has to be at the highest level, especially in the defence sector,” he said, continuing: “Going beyond self-sufficiency in all critical areas, especially in the defence sector, Turkey is obligated to reach the level where it can meet the needs of all its friends. Thanks to the steps we have taken, our ratio of external dependence, which hovered at around 80 percent in 2002, has now decreased to around 35 percent.”
Pointing out that Turkish defence sector companies are already exporting armoured vehicles, anti-air systems, rockets systems, simulators, coast guard vessels, communication and command-control systems and software, President Erdoğan said that this success stems from the combination of the public sector’s means and the private sector’s experience and dynamism.
He then mentioned the $1.5 billion contract signed with Pakistan for the export of MİLGEM ships, and said that an understanding had been reached with Ukraine for the sale of six UAVs. President Erdoğan also pointed out that no developed country today produces 100 percent of any product, often procuring parts from many different countries, and that several parts of the F-35 are being shipped from Turkey.
Also commenting on the works related to the 1st Main Maintenance Centre in Arifiye, President Erdoğan continued: “Following the Presidential Decree of December 19, certain factions immediately launched a campaign of distortion. It is absolutely out of the question that the current personnel in Arifiye will be sacked, and deprived of work, livelihoods and subsistence. The employee rights of our brothers working in that Centre will not be diminished or altered in any way.” Stressing that the main intention behind the decision had been to enhance the efficiency, productivity and technology of the factory, President Erdoğan said, “As a matter of fact, every activity [carried out in the factory], every immovable within the factory’s premises, and every piece of equipment used for production, maintenance and repair, is under the sole ownership of the state, and shall remain so.” The President emphasised that the decision pertaining to the factory in Arifiye is not an example of privatisation, but rather a transfer of operating rights to BMC under certain conditions, timeframes and restrictions.
BMC Continues Expansion in Izmir
Following the speeches, the event continued with the Commissioning Ceremony for the Advanced Technology Production Line of the BMC Izmir Pınarbaşı Factory. Connecting live from the factory, Bülent Santırcıoğlu, General Manager of BMC Land Vehicles, led the opening of the new production line, and the first BMC TUĞRA trucks to leave the line were then sent off by BMC employees.
Established with an investment of ₺800 million, the Advanced Technology Production Line covers an enclosed area of 100,000 square metres, and will roll out a broad family of products, including buses, trucks, tactical wheeled vehicles, and mine resistant ambush protected vehicles.
BMC POWER Looks to the Future with Confidence
The second ceremony held during the event was the Starting Ceremony for BMC POWER’s First Indigenous and National Engine. Dr. Osman Dur, General Manager of BMC POWER, who was at the Istanbul Technical University on that day, joined the ceremony through a live link-up.
In his brief and informative speech, Dr. Dur described that BMC POWER had already signed contracts for the development of 380, 1,000 and 1,500 HP engines destined for defence sector applications. However, BMC POWER first developed a 600 HP engine with a view of enhancing the compatibility of its team and getting to know the ecosystem of the companies and academies with which it can cooperate in Turkey prior to initiating these other projects, Dr. Dur explained. Following a development period of about one-and-a-half years, the engine became ready for testing, and it was this engine that was started at the ceremony.
The engine was started with the symbolic turning of ignition keys by President Erdoğan and other high-ranking officials. As the ceremony continued, another engine developed by BMC POWER was successfully undergoing its lifespan tests at the TÜBİTAK Gebze facility.
The technical characteristics of the engine that was started at the ceremony are as follows:
- Volume: 12.8 litres
- Six Cylinders
- 600 HP
- Euro 3/6 emission standard
- 2700 Nm
Dr. Dur said that following their success with the 600 HP engine, the other engines will be readied in a much shorter period of time.
Groundbreaking for New Base of BMC
The final ceremony held during the event was the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the BMC Sakarya Karasu Production and Technology Base.
Covering an area of 222 hectares, and planned to be constructed in several phases, the BMC Production and Technology Base will provide employment for around 10,000 people by the time it is competed in 2023, and will have a total enclosed area of 500,000 square metres. The base will comprise the following facilities:
- BMC Tank Factory
- BMC Armoured Vehicle and Truck Factory
- BMC Commercial Vehicle Factory
- Engine Factory
- High-Speed Train and Metro Factory
Following the completion of all the ceremonies, T. Yasin Öztürk, Member of the Board at BMC, gave President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a gift in appreciation for his attendance, while President Erdoğan handed to Öztürk the Operation Permit for the BMC Karasu Production and Technology Base. President Erdoğan then toured the showroom area, which featured nearly 40 different BMC vehicles.