Turkey to begin manufacturing national helicopter within next 5 years
Turkey plans to begin manufacturing its own national military helicopter within the next five years, the country's defense minister has said, Today's Zaman reported.
Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz submitted his ministry's budget for 2012 to the parliamentary planning and budget commission on Friday. Speaking during the commission meeting, Yılmaz said Turkey aims to meet domestic demand as well as that of other countries in the region with the new helicopter manufacturing plans.
Yılmaz said Turkey would also begin to design and develop warplanes and training aircraft. Turkey would also design air defense systems and begin production within next five years, he added.
The size of the world helicopter market is currently estimated at $20 billion. The volume of Turkey's defense industry is about $2.7 billion. It is estimated that Turkey's defense industry exports will multiply several fold with the domestic production of military helicopters.
The total worth of various defense projects Turkey is currently undertaking is about $10 billion. Some $7 billion of this is allocated to the military's helicopter project. In the latest purchase of this kind, Turkey bought 109 helicopters from the US-based Sikorsky company for $3.5 billion.
Turkey is co-producing helicopters with Italy in a joint project called ATAK, but Turkey's dependence on foreign technology remains unchanged when acquiring new helicopters. ATAK, military officials said, has contributed significantly to Turkey's growing technical knowhow, which will be crucial for the national helicopter project.
Defense Minister Yılmaz said tenders on clearing land mines from the country's border with Syria will be held in 2012, adding that the ministry aims to clear border territories off mines by the end of 2016.