Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), established in 1984 as a single-product business manufacturing the Lockheed Martin F-16 under licence, is embarking on a new multi-product strategy following completion of the fighter project last year.
Having evolved far beyond its original remit, TAI wants to increase foreign commercial orders, diluting its current reliance on foreign offset work and domestic military orders.
Aydin Oniz, TAI's executive director, business development and management, says the focus will remain on "the development of our industrial capability to support the Turkish military". Managing director Brig Gen Kaya Ergenc adds, however, that TAI wants to move away from "dependence" on the military for new programmes.
The aim, Oniz says, is to increase the contribution of international commercial programmes from 25% of sales to 40-50% within 10 years. Today, most commercial work is in the form of offsets against the purchase of aircraft by state-owned Turkish Airlines - contracts include 600 737 wingtips and 400 flightdeck panels for Boeing and 200 shipsets of Airbus A320 family fuselage panels for CASA of Spain.
Ergenc says TAI (which due to its origins in the F-16 programme is 42% owned by Lockheed Martin and 7% by General Electric, with Turkish interests controlling the majority stake) is already stressing "in-house design and production", and has developed a composites and manufacturing capability beyond its F-16 work.
Of the 12 contracts, worth $134 million, netted last year from eight customers, one of the most significant was with MD Helicopters, won in competition with South Korea, for the manufacture of 200 MD-902 Explorer fuselage shipsets.
Most deals - such as one for Cougar Mk1 utility helicopters and another that will see it assume prime contractorship on 145 attack helicopters - involve local manufacture of foreign aircraft ordered by the Turkish military. Other military contracts, such as Turkey's target drone and unmanned air vehicle programmes, have at least encouraged the development of home-grown solutions. Turkey is also a 9% risksharing partner in Airbus Military Company's A400M transport and has full design authority over the components it will make for the aircraft. The Turkish air force will buy 26.
TAI last year reported sales of TL31,170 billion ($76 million), 43% up on 1998, although their dollar value represented a $10 million fall because of Turkey's 50% inflation rate over the year. The company predicts sales of around $300 million by next year.
Source: Flight International