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AA 09/03/20: Flourishing Turkish defense sector drives down imports

Turkey's defense imports fell by almost half in last 5 years from previous 5-year period, says think tank report.

Thanks to the rising strength of the Turkish defense industry, Turkey's defense imports fell nearly in half between 2015 and 2019 compared to the previous five-year period, according to an international think tank.

Delays in deliveries of some major arms and the cancellation of a large deal with the U.S. for combat aircraft – referring to the F35 program – were other main reasons for the decline, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report released Monday.

In recent years, the Turkish defense sector has been able to manufacture and export several high-tech defense products and systems, including tanks, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), missiles, radar, vessels, and rifles.

By using its own arms including armed UAVs in Operation Spring Shield in northwestern Syria, launched earlier this month, Turkey is demonstrating the ability of its defense technologies.

The SIPRI report also said U.S. defense exports rose 23% in the same period and its share of global arms exports rose to 36%.

"In 2015–19 total US arms exports were 76% higher than those of the second-largest arms exporter in the world, Russia," it said.

About half of U.S. arms exports went to Middle East countries, especially Saudi Arabia, in the five-year period.

Russia’s defense exports dropped 18% in the same period.

Alexandra Kuimova, a SIPRI researcher, said: "Russia has lost traction in India – the main long-term recipient of Russian major arms ­– which has led to a sharp reduction in arms exports."

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