You can read the interview published in the September 2019 Issue of MSI Turkish Defence Review here:
“On a journey that began with the manufacture of flintlock rifles five generations ago, we have now become an industrial giant that manufactures automatic handguns, rifles and machine guns.”
After receiving a contract from the Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB) for the development of 7.62 mm and 12.7 mm machine guns, following the completion Development of Indigenous Local Handgun Development (ÖYTG) Project and the MPT-76 Project, Sarsılmaz has developed new and original products. The company has also made major progress in the field of aviation. We took the opportunity to interview Latif Aral Aliş, Chairman of the Board of Sarsılmaz, about the company’s recent activities.
MSI TDR: Mr. Aliş, which of the products and capabilities of Sarsılmaz is stand out in recent times?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: At exhibitions, we are displaying all our semi-automatic handguns and revolvers, ranging from .22 calibre to .45 calibre, as well as the 9×19 mm semi-automatic and fully automatic handguns in our product range. Our 5.56×45 mm, 7.62×39 mm and 7.62×51 mm assault rifles are also on display at our stands. In addition, we are displaying samples of the 7.62×51 mm and 12.7×99 mm machine guns of which the development projects were awarded to us by the SSB, thus demonstrating our ability to manufacture military products of all kinds and with all calibres in the small arms market segment.
MSI TDR: Do these include the products that you are displaying for the first time, or which you are putting under the spotlight?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: Some of the products that we are displaying for the first time include the K12 Sport X, the SAR9 X and 9×19 mm SAR9 METE service handgun, which ranked first by a wide margin, with the least number of errors, in the ÖYTG Project . On the rifle side, we are displaying SAR 223P, SAR 308 and the MPT-76, which is a lighter model that we have developed through our own R&D efforts.
MSI TDR: Is there any other issue that you may want to highlight in respect of Sarsılmaz’s current activities?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: Sarsılmaz has always endeavoured to do its best in each project awarded to it by the SSB. In this context, our primary goal is to shift focus in the small arms market to local and national products. We are delivering our products in large quantities and keep working on new projects to that end.
From Small Arms to Aviation
MSI TDR: You and Turkish Aerospace jointly formed TR MEKATRONİK to do business in the aviation sector, although Sarsılmaz was already active in the field of aviation prior to the foundation of this company. What was the vision behind the foundation of this new company? What exactly will this company do?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: Sarsılmaz and Turkish Aerospace are reputable companies which have put their mark on many innovations in their respective segments. We formed TR MEKATRONİK primarily to reduce our country’s dependence on other countries, and with a view to making new innovations. It is owned equally by Sarsılmaz and Turkish Aerospace, 50 to 50 percent. Sarsılmaz will carry out its operations in the aviation sector in partnership with TR MEKATRONİK, to a certain extent. We believe that both companies will contribute to each other’s fields, in that the aviation sector encompasses invaluable data in terms of design and quality requirements, and we are both based in the same compound. TR MEKATRONİK will develop and manufacture products of superior quality underpinned by its R&D philosophy. The new company will conduct R&D activities over the first two years, and we are confident that it will make great contributions to Turkey’s export figures in the next 5 years.
All Segments of Small Arms Sector
MSI TDR: In addition to production of small arms, Sarsılmaz has also entered the fields of aviation, small arms ammunition and explosives through its subsidiaries TR MEKATRONİK, BPS and ZSR. Where do those investments position Sarsılmaz in its sector?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: It has enabled us to become a company engaged in all segments of the small arms sector, and we aim to intensify these efforts.
MSI TDR: Could you give an idea of the current size of Sarsılmaz?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: The total number of people employed by Sarsılmaz and its subsidiaries is over 1,600. Our factory at the First Organized Industrial Zone in Düzce has an outdoor area of 66,000 square meters and an indoor area of 40,000 square meters. We have begun the construction of further facilities and we are also investing in machinery and plant. At the end of a journey that began with the manufacture of flintlock rifles five generations ago, we have now become an industrial giant that manufactures automatic handguns, rifles and machine guns.
MSI TDR: What Sarsılmaz products are used by the law enforcement agencies in Turkey?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: Semi-automatic guns within Sarsılmaz’s product range are being used by all units of the Ministry of Interior, including the Turkish National Police (TNP), the General Command of Gendarmerie and Coast Guard Command, as well as by all units of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF), including the Land, Naval and Air Forces. Our submachineguns in use by the TNP, the General Command of Gendarmerie and Naval Forces Command, while the indigenous assault rifles SAR 223P and SAR 223T and the SAR 308, are used by the departments of the Ministry of Interior. The MPT-76 rifle is in the inventory of the TNP and Air Force Command, and the General Command of the Gendarmerie successfully uses our tactical shotguns in its operations.
MSI TDR: What is your position in the national civil market?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: We are the industry leader in the handgun segment, and we are also significantly dominant in the market for sporting rifles thanks to our latest models.
MSI TDR: Could you give us some information about Sarsılmaz’s export performance?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: Sarsılmaz exports its products to 81 countries, with the United States topping the list of countries importing our products, where we are selling under our own brand SARUSA. With sales figures gradually increasing every year, we are rapidly securing a place among the most popular weapon brands in the United States. In fact, we are the first and only weapon manufacturer carrying out projects in that context under the Turquality program being implemented by our government.
MSI TDR: Who are the users of your products abroad?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: Our products are preferred by many law enforcement agencies in both Turkey and abroad, among which I can cite the Bahrain Defence Force, the Colombian Self-Defence Forces, and the Colombian, Ghanaian, Macedonian and Northern Cypriot police, the Bangladesh Air Force and the Qatar Armed Forces, among the many examples. The production of our B6 handgun, which has passed the most demanding tests of the Pakistan Army, is being successfully manufactured by Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) through a technology transfer agreement.
Outcome of 136-year Experience and R&D: Indigenous Products
MSI TDR: What R&D projects is Sarsılmaz currently carrying out?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: Our R&D projects are aimed at further expanding the experience and know-how we have accumulated over the past 136 years, and at using these assets for the design of new applications. In 2007 we restructured our R&D unit with a view to enhancing the efficiency of these creative works that we have been carrying out systematically. We have developed many new products by applying R&D management processes, and achieved many technological advances in the unit. An application that we filed on June 25, 2015, in order to acquire the status of an R&D centre was examined by competent authorities, and was approved on August 17 the same year.
Sarsılmaz closely follows scientific advancements and innovations, and attaches great importance to R&D in order to achieve what has never been done before. We look to manufacture products that best respond to the requirements and needs of the global market. With extensive know-how and global experience, our team is the assurance of Sarsılmaz’s ability to maintain sustainable and perfect production. Sarsılmaz’s R&D Centre carries out projects in collaboration with the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) – Turkey’s leading R&D institution – as well as Middle East Technical University, Kocaeli University, Eskişehir Osmangazi University and Düzce University. In cooperation with TÜBİTAK, Kocaeli University and Middle East Technical University, we developed the SAR223, the first Turkish-made assault rifle that is effective in all kinds of terrain and climatic conditions, while also offering high firepower, effective range and accuracy.
In parallel with the rapid development in technology, the rate of change and development of weapons systems and equipment has increased in the defence sector. Sarsılmaz’s R&D Centre, which has been set up in order to keep abreast of this rapid change and development, is the only R&D centre to be certified by the Ministry of Industry and Technology in the small arms sector.
Our experienced and dynamic R&D team consists of engineers and technicians experienced in product development, 3D indigenous design, prototype production and weapons testing, as well as experts specialised in shotguns and sporting rifles, and business specialists making research on market demand.
The procedures we are following in the process of commissioning new products at our R&D centre is as follows:
- Concept development,
- Technological, technical and economic feasibility studies,
- Laboratory and similar works undertaken in the process of moving from a developed concept to design,
- Design, design application and design verification works,
- Prototype production,
- Establishing a pilot facility,
- Performance of trial production and type tests; and
- Resolution of design-related problems experienced during field tests.
Investment in Machine Guns Completed
MSI TDR: Are there investments that Sarsılmaz has recently made or plan to make in the near future?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: We have recently completed investments into production capabilities for our PMT 7.62 and PMT 12.7 mm machine gun project. In addition, we are continuing modernization work related to Industry 4.0, which is a current requirement in the field of production. We are building a new test firing range, where ammunitions of up to 35 mm can be fired within the technology park in which our Düzce plant is located.
MSI TDR: How many orders has Sarsılmaz received in connection with the MPT-76 project? What is the latest situation with the deliveries?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: We have most recently received an order for 12,000 units from the SSB, and they will be delivered by 2020. We have successfully completed the factory acceptance tests of the first batch of rifles, and have already delivered 500 units to the TNP. We are about to deliver the next batch of 2,500 rifles to Air Force Command and the TNP.
MPT-76 Now Weighs 500 Grams Lighter
MSI TDR: What were Sarsılmaz’s contributions to the MPT-76 project?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: The Sarsılmaz team made significant contributions to the MPT-76 project, particularly with regard to materials, drawing upon its experience in the production of our first indigenous rifle prior to the production of the MPT-76. We have ended dependence on other countries by using totally Turkish-made materials.
Furthermore, in order to engage in serial production with minimum tolerance ranges, we have facilitated assembly by processing with multi-axial CNC machines such components as subframes, top frames and bolts that are fashioned by forging or are specially formed. We also reduced the weight of MPT-76 by almost 500 grams, completing a project devised to that end in response to feedback received from the SSB based on the experience of law enforcement officers in the field.
MSI TDR: What kind of benefits has Sarsılmaz reaped from the production of the MPT-76? How will Sarsılmaz contribute to similar design or production projects in which it may be involved in the future?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: We were manufacturing 5.56 mm NATO and the 7.62×39 mm SAR 223 and SAR 308 series prior to MPT-76. By manufacturing MPT-76 as a 7.62 mm rifle that meets NATO standards, we have completed our product range in terms of calibre.
MSI TDR: What is the current status of the delivery schedule of the SAR9 METE handgun that you have manufactured under the ÖYTG Project?
Latif Aral ALİŞ: We delivered the first batch of 400 units and have successfully completed factory acceptance tests under the project, and then subsequently delivered 4,000 units to the TNP and 16,342 units to TAF. We take pride in having successfully completed the delivery of more than 20,000 units. In addition, we have, within the same period, delivered 48,000 SAR 9 handguns from the same weapon family to the TNP.
We will manufacture a minimum of 10,000 SAR9 METE per month, and shall complete the delivery of 100,200 units in 2019 in the following phase.
On behalf of our readers, we would like to thank Latif Aral Aliş, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sarsılmaz, for taking the time to answer our questions and for providing us with such valuable information.