As far as I recall, Turkey was mostly dependent on the USA and Israel for its defense needs until recently. Turkey sought Israeli assistance to modernize its large fleet of F-4 Phantoms and bought Popeye missiles and IAI Herons. Turkish F-16s and other defense equipment used hundreds of Israeli components.
The situation started to rapidly change when Erdogan came to power back in 2010s. After the Ahmed Oguz Celikkol incident, Turkey virtually snapped its defense relationship with Israel and started to go ahead with its own defense industry. Then gradually we saw the production of the Anka UAV, MITUP Altay, T129 ATAK, MILGEM project, and so on.
Within a few years, dozens of Turkish companies are in the international defense market, names that we never saw in newspapers before. Turkish firms are stealing the show in international defense exhibitions. Turkish firms are competing for an Indonesian submarine contract and a Polish attack helicopter contract, developing jet fighters, selling avionics, and so on.
So, my questions are,
- How did Turkey manage to springboard its defense industry so fast?
- If Turkey was able to do so, what have other NATO countries (like Poland, the Czech Republic, and so on) been doing?
- Finally, how is the defense industry able to maintain its growth even though Erdogan conducted a massive purge in the country?