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Achievements and Transformations in Turkish Defence 2023

Achievements and Transformations in Turkish Defence 2023

By Özgür Ekşi

From political dynamics to strategic acquisitions and groundbreaking technological advancements, the Turkish Defence and Defence Industry have experienced significant developments. 

Our news statistics reveal the trend - most news articles peaked in April, May, and July. The surge in April and May aligns with the general election on May 14th, indicating a correlation between defence and politics. In July, we witnessed another peak during the IDEF 23 Expo. Significantly, the momentum did not wane post-election and expo, underscoring the continued interest in Turkish Defence developments.

The year brought forth significant developments in Turkiye’s foreign relations, particularly in the defence industry. Turkiye and the United Kingdom forged stronger ties, while Finland’s admission to NATO and Sweden standing by underscored the nation’s strategic positioning. Turkiye’s pursuit of British products and contemplation of acquiring Swedish ones reflect a nuanced approach to building a diversified defence portfolio.

National Emphasis: Turkish Products at the Forefront

While Turkiye emphasises the importance of national and indigenous products, strategic decisions sometimes require interim measures. Discussions about acquiring Type-23 frigates, C-130-J Hercules aircraft from the U.K., negotiations with the U.S. for F-16s, and Eurofighter talks with the U.K. showcase the intricate strategies.


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Leadership Shifts: Winds of Change in Key Positions

Radical changes unfolded at the top echelons of the Turkish Defence industry. Minister of National Defence Hulusi Akar handed over his responsibilities to Yaşar Güler, while Professor İsmail Demir passed the baton to Professor Haluk Görgün after nearly nine years in Defence Industry Agency (SSB). Changes in critical positions, such as the ASELSAN General Manager and ASFAT General Director, reflect a commitment to fresh perspectives and strategic innovation.

The Defence Industry Executive Committee, which is held under the chairmanship of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is not held in 2023. This can be related to the ongoing economic crises in Turkiye as well as the position of the defence industry. The industry completed significant development programmes. It is now heading towards export markets. 

Significant Developments in the Turkish Defence Industry


The handover of TCG Anadolu (L400) to the Navy. Gaining such capability was on the Turkish Navy’s programme since the war broke out in Yugoslavia. 

Construction for three Istif class frigates has commenced. The MİLGEM Programme means the national ship programme is on track. 

The modernisation of TCG Oruçreis (F-245), construction of TCG Istanbul frigate, TCG Derya and Piri Reis Submarine were completed. Vessels are currently undergoing cruise tests.

It was learned that ASFAT was assigned to design the TF-2000 destroyer programme. 

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Maiden flights of heavy-class attack helicopter ATAK II, Unmanned Stealth aircraft ANKA III, advanced jet training aircraft Hürjet, and UCAV TB-3 took place in 2023.

The maiden flight of the Turkish Fighter jet KAAN, scheduled for late December 2023, has now been rescheduled for early January 2024.

Air Defence:

Commencement of serial production for SİPER Block-1 and HİSAR systems.

Successful first firing test of SİPER Block-2 system.

HİSAR O+, with a new R.F. seeker head, successfully destroyed targets at close and long ranges.

These developments indicate an indigenous air defence umbrella to cover Turkiye. 


Completion of the first serial production batch of military land vehicle engine TUNA. Completion of the prototype of the national turbofan engine TEI-TF6000. 

Export Achievements: Setting Records and Expanding Horizons

Turkiye’s defence and aerospace industry broke its export record, reaching 4.8 billion dollars in 11 months, surpassing the previous year’s figure. Baykar’s 3-billion-dollar deal with Saudi Arabia is not on the list—introducing sub-cloud BAHA in Turkish security forces and TOGAN inventory to the African market. The first international sale of the kamikaze drone ALPAGU and the GHOST Air Security Shield export to Saudi Arabia marks milestones in Turkiye’s global presence.

Innovations and Tests: Pushing the Boundaries of Technology

Throughout the year, groundbreaking tests and innovations unfolded. Highlights include Bayraktar AKINCI’s missile launch with ÇAKIR, successful tests of the GÖZDE guidance kit, UAV-230 and UAV 122 missile launch from AKINCI, and the maiden flight of the KEMANKEŞ mini loitering munition.

As we conclude this year’s journey, it is evident that the Turkish Defence industry has demonstrated resilience, adaptability, and a relentless pursuit of progress. The commitment to national products remains unwavering, even in the face of strategic engagements on the global stage.

Anticipating 2024: Milestones and Innovations in Turkish Defence

As we step into the year 2024, here’s a glimpse of the anticipated developments that will shape the landscape in the coming year:

KAAN’s Maiden Flight and Continued UAV Advancements

The much-anticipated maiden flight of the KAAN is scheduled for the upcoming year. Concurrently, the testing phase for unmanned combat aircraft ANKA III, jet training aircraft HÜRJET, and heavy-class attack helicopter ATAK-2 will continue, promising advancements in aerial capabilities.

Serial Production of Bayraktar KIZILELMA and Tactical Capabilities

The long-awaited Bayraktar KIZILELMA, Turkiye’s first unmanned combat aircraft, is set to enter serial production. With the ability to execute aggressive manoeuvres in air-to-air combat and a low radar cross-section, Bayraktar KIZILELMA becomes a force multiplier for security forces. Short take-off and landing capabilities from small ships make it a versatile asset for targeted strikes with onboard munitions.

Deployment of Bayraktar TB3 UCAV on TCG ANADOLU (L400)

Efforts will be directed towards deploying the Bayraktar TB3 UCAV with foldable wings on the TCG ANADOLU (L400) amphibious assault ship. With its short take-off and landing capabilities, the TB3 UCAV will contribute to reconnaissance and surveillance and conduct operations with indigenous smart munitions.

Introduction of Indigenous Defence Products

With TCG İSTANBUL’s delivery, several indigenous products developed within the Turkish defence industry will enter the inventory of the Navy.

CENK Radar for Air Defence on Naval Vessels

The CENK radar system will assume the role of air defence radar on naval vessels. CENK reinforces naval security by providing detection and diagnosis capabilities for approaching aircraft, missiles, and surface vehicles.

GÖKDENİZ CIWS for the Navy

The GÖKDENİZ Close-in Air Defence System will be introduced to the Naval Forces, capable of neutralising airborne and surface threats in close proximity. This system will enhance the Navy’s defence capabilities in various operational scenarios.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles and ULAQ’s Debut

Various unmanned sea vehicle systems, including Turkiye’s first armed unmanned sea vehicle, ULAQ, will enter the inventory for the first time.

Introduction of MERT Portable Electronic Attack System

The MERT Portable Electronic Attack System, boasting a wide frequency range and advanced techniques, will be introduced for the use of security forces. MERT can simultaneously neutralise various targets from a distance.