“You must have a “crisis-free” structure that does now get affected by external factors like chip shortages, disruptions to the supply chain, and the COVID-19 pandemic to exist in Türkiye beyond just being ITAR-free. This existential crisis has been the key to ANDAR’s success globally as well.”
We talked with Gökhan Koyuncu, CEO and Founding Partner of ANDAR, on the company’s aims for its IDEX 2023 participation, new business opportunities, and the marketing of its products. We were also informed about the cooperation agreement signed between ANDAR and Tawazun in this interview, which may set an example for what awaits the Turkish defence and aerospace industry in the future. You will also experience the globalisation journey of an SME that designs and produces its indigenous electromechanical actuator solutions.
MSI TDR: What were ANDAR’s aims when it attended IDEX 2023 fair that was held between 20-24 February in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and were you able to accomplish them?
Gökhan KOYUNCU: We attended the fair to develop relationships with our clients in the region by talking about our current and potential business opportunities, finding new areas of cooperation, and maturing our vision on the region and bring it to a level where we may decide on investments. Of course, we have also had the chance to present our solutions in our extensive electromechanical actuator family.
In fact, we keep in touch with all the companies in the region that are working on developing munitions, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). We are talking with integrator companies, primarily located in UAE and Saudi Arabia. We already provide products for a certain portion of them and have made offers to cooperate on their projects with the rest.
We believe that there is great commercial potential in the Gulf Region. We need to establish a presence to support this potential. In time, we aim to establish a structure responsible for all the required business processes, like production, after-sales support, customer relations, business development, execution and delivery. We are developing this process step by step, not just for the region but for the entire world as well. IDEX 2023 was a milestone for our strategy for the Middle East region.
In the future, we plan to commence similar processes for South America, the USA, and Europe. We must be closer to our clients and achieve globalisation through local cooperation. In short, we achieved what we set out to do, and even went further.
MSI TDR: How is ANDAR affected commercially by the countries’ initiatives to develop their own defence and aerospace industries, or at least their policies to domesticate their production?
Gökhan KOYUNCU: As the business volume grows, so does the importance of local contribution for that business. As such, we are also evaluating business models that we can participate. Questions like “What is the business potential there? Are there any companies we can cooperate with? What can we accomplish together if we go there?” are always in our minds.
As with Türkiye, every country has plans and programmes to develop its defence and aerospace industries. Did our country not have problems with embargoes and procurement when we had the greatest need? We also saw some companies withdrawing completely from Türkiye. ANDAR succeeded in existing during such a difficult period and even took advantage of this situation to help with its development. ANDAR also solidified its position by ensuring that main contractors that produce aircraft and smart munitions had access to solutions they needed during that environment.
In addition, we have established a comprehensive, creative, and completely modern technological mastery of electromechanical actuators, including the design and production of all the subcomponents of our products. As we were competing with the products of international companies sold in Türkiye, we tried to develop better products. I can happily say that ANDAR, born in the challenging times of the Turkish defence and aerospace industry, is mature enough not to have any competitive difficulties against its competitors in the global market.
Cooperation with Tawazun Proves It Is Possible to Grow Through Projects, Even Abroad
MSI TDR: Does your cooperation with Tawazun deal with UAE only? How do you expect this cooperation process to materialise completely?
Gökhan KOYUNCU: We are in a phase where talks continue, along with brainstorming on “what kind of cooperation will benefit both parties”. Our cooperation may be limited to the country, or the region, or encompass the whole world.
We have been talking with Tawazun for a while, but we already had a commercial relationship with them before these talks started. I hope the cooperation process with Tawazun will take shape before long. We continue our efforts and plan to enjoy the fruits of our labour before the end of the year.
I want to highlight this fact also: the fledgling cooperation with Tawazun helped us go beyond our existing business network and we were able to get in touch with new companies. That is a development that surpassed our expectations.
MSI TDR: Does your cooperation with Tawazun include topics like establishing a production facility in UAE or technology transfer?
Gökhan KOYUNCU: All of these are still being discussed. We may think about physical investments in locations that meet our demands with specific infrastructure already in place to reach potential clients during their projects’ R&D phases. After all, you must be close to the client, ensure adequate production, and manage the tasks better.
So far, our growth strategy has been based on taking on more projects. All our investments were made to support our growth so that we could perform our new responsibilities. We never had the chance to use capital to invest before a project. We will be using the same model here as well. The more business we do with UAE, the stronger ANDAR’s presence will be.
However, it must be highlighted that we may have certain advantages due to the fact that Gulf Region has a customs union structure. In addition, we are trying to create an example business development model that we can use in other countries.
ANDAR Offers a Complete Solution for Munition Integrators with CAS
MSI TDR: How did ANDAR prepare for IDEX 2023? Were there any products or technologies you presented for the first time at the fair?
Gökhan KOYUNCU: We launched our CAS (control actuation systems) solution at IDEX 2023. This solution is a subsystem of a smart munition’s guidance system. Companies producing smart munitions may choose to purchase a CAS solution as a whole from one source rather than buying the subcomponents that make up the CAS solution and then assembling it. This approach offers significant advantages to integrators, and we have a new product to give them just that.
MSI TDR: Can you give more details on your CAS solution?
Gökhan KOYUNCU: CAS is offering the product group that is used to guide the smart munition to the target by controlling the fins and other guidance surfaces as a whole package. Some integrator companies may choose to build a solution like CAS from the subcomponents like electric motors and sensors rather than purchasing it as a whole as they have made component-level integration investments. Using a complete solution like CAS also significantly improves characteristics of the smart munition, like cost, weight, volume and performance, in addition to shortening product development times. As such, we think the companies wishing to produce competitive smart munitions may choose a tailor-made CAS solution.
All parameters of a smart munition, like design, wing shape, weight, et cetera, differ from one model to another. The most significant advantage of the CAS solution ANDAR offers is its adaptability to clients’ needs in record times. With ANDAR’s comprehensive understanding and control of the technology and production processes, we can design a tailor-made CAS solution for any smart munition in line with client requests and quickly prepare it for mass production. This allows the client to spend less time on integration and product development processes. We can offer a completely new CAS solution in a short period of time, in 4-6 months. The production company can then test the CAS solution as a complete product and integrate it into its system.
We are establishing the infrastructure for ageing testing with an investment we made this year. As such, we will be able to test our products’ functionality internally, including ageing tests. As such, our clients can purchase a tested CAS solution, assemble it, and integrate other guidance systems and warheads, thus offering a completed product quickly.
ANDAR signed a memorandum of understanding with Tawazun, and continues to advance towards globalisation as a SME competent in its niche and as a subsystem producer.
MSI TDR: What does your agreement with Tawazun mean for the corporate development of ANDAR?
Gökhan KOYUNCU: ANDAR is taking its institutionalisation steps steadily. We consider this a requirement for being a global company, providing products and services to international markets, and getting access to resources there. When needed, we can talk about the giants of the aerospace sector regarding their projects in 2030 and beyond. We have reached where we are right now quickly through the strength we received from our history in Türkiye and our brand recognition. As such, we have the image of a young, dynamic, and competent company. We are a young team, but we also have extensive experience and know-how on electromechanical actuators.
We have made ANDAR a company with fully developed business processes, with technology that competes and even surpasses its competitors across the globe. In the international events we are participating in, we can clearly see that our solutions have a place not just in Türkiye but in the whole world. The cooperation agreement with Tawazun is proof of that.
A Technology Company Unaffected by External Factors
MSI TDR: Did you have any advantages at the fair because ANDAR’s products and solutions are ITAR-free?
Gökhan KOYUNCU: You must have a “crisis-free” structure that does now get affected by external factors like chip shortages, disruptions to the supply chain, and the COVID-19 pandemic to exist in Türkiye beyond just being ITAR-free. This existential crisis has been the key to ANDAR’s success globally as well. Our design and production processes are entirely in-house, so we are not affected by global disasters. Of course, the raw materials come from abroad, but we have many sources from which we can procure. We solved the chip shortage problem by adapting our designs to use chips not affected by shortages. We can design special machinery for our production processes to meet our demands if needed. As such, we have raised our sustainability and efficiency to the max. Of course, that brings a lot of attention, and we have seen this at IDEX.
I would like to give some examples of this attention. As the business volume of the companies we work with grows, we receive questions like “Can you support us more? Could you make something happen closer to us?” and so on. In addition, we encounter questions like “Can you offer services across the globe? Can you establish a global service organisation? Can you work with another global service organisation?” on the civil aviation front. We consider these questions natural, and the solutions to these questions will become a reality during our medium-term planning.
MSI TDR: ANDAR’s three main fields of activity are smart munitions, UAVs, and military aviation like aircraft and helicopters. Which one of these gets the most attention from organisations and companies?
Gökhan KOYUNCU: As most projects in today’s world are weighted towards UAVs and munitions, the demand seems to focus on these. However, there are significant developments for military aircraft and helicopters in UAE as well. For example, Calidus company is developing an aircraft with electronic controls, in other words, an aircraft where its main flight controls can use electronic actuators. We have serious offers to be a part of this project as well. In short, we enjoy demand for all our fields of activity.
MSI TDR: Why should ANDAR be chosen for the mentioned projects?
Gökhan KOYUNCU: As we were working on products needed within our borders, we conceptualised all our projects to be competitive globally since the first day of our establishment. We worked hard to design and produce products that surpass existing products or products that will be offered to the market in the future. We feel the effects of our approach in our overseas talks, especially ones to the USA and Europe. Our technological infrastructure has received approval from the entire world, and products result from this infrastructure did as well.
Apart from that, I can safely say that our products are tested in the field as a part of the platforms in Turkish service, which gives us a significant advantage, along with the fact that the performance we created with feedback from the field surpasses our competitors. This feedback is also reflected on the quality of our products. These comparisons are made against the whole world so that we can better know how we can support a company that develops similar main systems. We started to explain what we do decently as well. We can make competitive offers to world giants. Our only shortcoming in international projects is the fact that we are yet to be seen as a global company. We believe our cooperation with Tawazun will solve this issue.
ANDAR is a company that can become a leader in electromechanical actuators. There is a transformation in the civil aviation sector as well. The transformation process we will witness soon will create a new industrial sector, and the relevant technologies will become widespread across the globe. We have contacted large aircraft producers on the civil aviation front and received positive feedback. The most significant reason for this is our experience with similar products, especially for UAVs. That also means that we can create solutions for different aviation cultures as well.
The rising sectors of the near future will be the key to medium -and long-term growth. However, these fields require significant investments, like the cars following behind a locomotive. An agile and effective R&D, production, and product life cycle support also gives us advantages on this front. Our immediate focus is our current products and the adaptation of these products for different projects quickly; these two points are why we are being chosen.
ANDAR’s Vision Goes Beyond Borders
MSI TDR: Can you expand on your views on the future of civil aviation and sectoral transformation?
Gökhan KOYUNCU: We observe that electric passenger planes and air taxis may become the leading transport vehicles in the USA, especially in the civil aviation sector. As ANDAR, we have set our goals in line with this trend. In Europe, we are working hard to become a part of space transportation projects. These sectors are expected to grow as much as the sector we operate in, both for us and the countries’ local defence and aerospace industries. As such, we also plan to take part in these fields in the medium term.
MSI TDR: Anything you would like to add?
Gökhan KOYUNCU: The Turkish defence and aerospace sector’s success in recent years has been accepted widely worldwide. That is very important. However, large companies and system integrators claim all the storefronts and leave other companies with almost none. In fact, Türkiye’s defence sector advanced and developed by establishing a robust ecosystem. Technology-focused SMEs like us form the backbone of this success.
ANDAR is advancing towards being a global technology and subsystem company. In the future, the small and medium-sized companies producing technologies and subsystems in this ecosystem must do everything possible to make themselves known because one must go beyond one’s ecosystem and become a part of other ecosystems to create a sustainable business model. I am sure other Turkish companies like us will take the initiative to go global. I wish all our national companies success in this challenging but worthy journey.
We would like to thank Gökhan Koyuncu, CEO and Founding Partner of ANDAR, for taking the time to answer our questions, and for providing us with such valuable information.