The 15th International Defense Industry Fair (IDEF) held in Istanbul will conclude on Friday.
Held on a biannual basis in Istanbul, Ankara leverages the IDEF to demonstrate the growing capabilities of Turkey’s defense industry. Following rows with its NATO allies over Turkey’s recent more assertive foreign policy, Ankara has faced sanctions preventing it from acquiring advanced weapons systems. In response, Ankara successfully pursued a robust policy to lower its foreign exposure. Consequently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently stated that dependence in the defense industry fell from 80% to 20%.
Expect Turkey to continue its ascent as a global arms producer, with defense exports likely to increase exponentially. Having reached a certain maturity, Ankara is now capable of innovating and manufacturing game-changing capabilities—such as its drone program that proved vital to Azerbaijan’s victory over ethnic Armenian forces in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war.
Having signed a contract for the delivery of 24 Bayraktar TB2 drones to Poland, expect Turkey to then pursue other NATO export markets—like Latvia and Hungary to—strengthen its defense industry’s prestige. Nevertheless, , stringent American sanctions may yet dent Ankara’s ambitions in the medium-term, as Turkey continues to remain dependent on the US for critical subcomponents.
Sinan is an analyst for the Current Developments Team and a regular contributor to the Daily Brief. A student of transatlantic affairs, he specialises in political, economic and energy affairs of Europe and the Middle East.