Berkin Defence Engineering, this issue’s cover story, is a great example how correct needs analyses and correct investment can advance a new company in the Turkish defence and aerospace sector quickly, with the strides it took in a relatively short period of time and its development.
The company began its journey in 2014, in a flat in Ankara, and as of now it is an engineering company that has its own products, a company that is running significant R&D projects, and even a company that has its products being in mass production stage. The leader of the company, Yücel Atalay works as the Chairman of the Board and CEO of the company, and he is well known in the sector. Mr. Atalay is a former member of Turkish Naval Forces Command and had used the systems similar to the ones the company is developing now. Mr. Atalay took part in the MİLGEM project as a designer, and then assumed managerial duties on various headquarters, he ran modernisation, repair, and maintenance activities as a Chief Engineer.
As he has personally taken part in process of the life cycle of systems; like procurement, integration, operation, and maintenance, he can observe what is needed and what is lacking. The other employees of the company, with their varying levels of experience, also bring their viewpoints.
Berkin Defence Engineering has roughly doubled both its staff and its revenue every year since its founding, and the company aims to continue its activities in a new installation that combines all its departments and units, to be finished by 2023 in Ankara. Berkin Defence Engineering is currently operating from its Istanbul centre with around 50 people in total, and it is expected for the company to grow further with its move to its new installation. The new installation is planned with this expected growth in mind, able to host 150 employees. The company will be focusing on optics, image processing, AI and RF.
Through evaluation of sector’s growth and correct observation of sector’s needs are the reasons that lie behind the company’s successes. With its expert staff that knows the sector, the users, and the needs very well, Berkin Defence Engineering finds niches where there are limited solutions and focuses on these niches to grow and advance itself.
HAVELSAN Focuses on Branding and Products
We talked about HAVELSAN and the new era ahead with Dr. Mehmet Akif Nacar, CEO at HAVELSAN, as the company prepares to celebrate its 40th founding anniversary in July. HAVELSAN’s efforts in these past years, especially Air Force Information System (HvBS) for Turkish Air Force Command, various command control and combat management systems for Turkish Naval Forces Command, and simulation technologies made the company one of the most prominent actors in its field. HAVELSAN also plays important roles for Türkiye’s e-Government projects and is working on new generation technologies that include robotics, autonomous systems, and AI.
HAVELSAN completed its concept and design efforts within its autonomous systems and unmanned vehicles framework. The company developed unmanned systems that can operate alone or within swarms, and with its BARKAN UGV and BAHA UAV, signalled its product development efforts were advancing steadily and internalised its new management concept.
Dr. Nacar also has a message for the companies that might wish to collaborate with HAVELSAN, wanting for these companies to share the required information for HAVELSAN’s databases as detailed as possible with the following words: “We are working tirelessly to expand our national product line-up through evaluation of product and service information that might provide a source for our core technologies, to use said technologies for our products, and to utilise our commercialisation strategies to achieve sales, both in Türkiye and abroad. We are also working on hardware in line with our domestication strategies, even though we are focusing on software. As such, our efforts continue to encourage the production of the systems, devices, parts, and materials, which are procured from abroad, in domestic companies. If the companies share their efforts they make in line with this goal with us, it will be a great opportunity to increase cooperation.”
AMAC Members Meet MÜSİAD
Ankara Military Attaché Corps (AMAC) is among the biggest stakeholders for the sector, and 42 AMAC member military attachés met with MÜSİAD member defence companies in Ankara on 23 March. The event, titled “MÜSİAD-AMAC Sectoral Cooperation Meeting” was hosted by MÜSİAD, and saw attendance from 36 companies that offer products and services for defence, aerospace and security applications, including MÜSİAD Defence Sector Board member companies such as Ateşçi, Dorçe, Turaç and Küçükpazarlı Aerospace.
MÜSİAD Defence Sector Board was founded within MÜSİAD Ankara Branch and then restructured in MÜSİAD Head Office starting in 2022. The board organized its first large scale event under the Head Office and Fatih Altunbaş, President of MÜSİAD Defence Sector Board’s leadership.
The event, first such event to bring together AMAC members with companies under an NGO umbrella, was able to satisfy both parties as it focused on their goals. Mr. Altunbaş shared the following on the event: “This meeting offers an advantage to both military attachés and MÜSİAD members. MÜSİAD has proved its worth with its activities so far many times, and the fact that MÜSİAD can directly contact representatives from foreign countries will contribute to both opening new horizons for business and strengthening bilateral relations between countries, in addition to increasing the presence of Turkish defence sector and providing the sector with the right suppliers in line with requirements”
Brigadier Kipling V. Kahler, AMAC Dean shared some information on the role of military attachés play in the workflow:
- Military attachés represent their country’s military and/or their specific country’s service to the host country
- Military attachés are the principle military advisors to their ambassador, embassy and their particular service on military or service activities and capabilities of Türkiye. Some attaches are accredited to more than one country and they spend much time on travel.
- Military attachés carefully follow every phase of topics like defence industry cooperation, procurement contracts or joint training between their countries and Türkiye. They take responsibilities in this framework, regarding processes like initial talks, planning, coordination and running.
Brigadier Kahler highlighted that MÜSİAD-AMAC Sectoral Business Cooperation will contribute to military attachés in their duties and focused on the following: “You should view Attaches as potential clients and the Attaches should view you as potential suppliers to provide solutions to today’s defence needs and also tomorrow’s defence needs… While many of these items are easily viewed online via your websites, attaches strongly desire to meet with you and your teams personally”
SYS Grows with Exports
Samsun Yurt Savunma (SYS), Türkiye’s ever expanding firearms company, is also achieving great success in exports with its CANiK brand products. Didem Aral, Foreign Trade Manager at SYS was one of our guests for this issue and shared some information on the company’s achievements. According to the information provided by Ms. Aral, SYS saw the third biggest leap in exports for all Turkish companies in all sectors. The company advanced 600 places at once in Turkish 1000 top exporters list, reaching 386th place.
The company enjoyed $103 million export revenue in 2021, exporting 327,000 weapons. SYS added 6 new countries to its exports list, reaching 32 countries in total.
SYS aims to achieve $150 million export revenue for 2022 and plans to increase this number to $200 million for 2023.
Ms. Aral said SYS was an export-oriented company since its founding and shared that the company earns 75 percent of its total revenue from exports while producing 80 percent of all exported pistols from Türkiye.
Apart from pistols, SYS increased the reach of its CANiK M2 heavy machine guns, exporting them to new countries. The company completed the factory acceptance tests of CANiK M2 QCB heavy machine guns it produced for Azerbaijan in March.
Turkish defence and aerospace sector was on the headlines in March with important news like delivering 2 T129 ATAK helicopters to Philippines and the completed hulls of 10 KAPLAN MT (HARIMAU) that were mass produced by FNSS for Indonesia. The sector’s exports increased by 48.6 percent for the first quarter compared to last year, reaching $961,073,000.
We wish to be with you again, dear reader, in our May issue that will include the important developments in April.