Growth in defense industry equals to increasing regional and global influence for Ankara

In recent years, the developments in the Turkish defense industry pioneered an evolution that turned Türkiye into a self-sufficient country in the defense field. The sector grew firm and attracted global attention, which led to billions of dollars in exports as Turkish products proved themselves in wars such as Ukraine, Libya, and Karabakh. The deployment of Turkish material helped Ankara gain regional and global efficacy.

Last year the Turkish defense industry made 4.4 billion dollars, almost entirely built up by fourteen companies.

Subsequently, Türkiye became the 12th biggest arms exporter in the world, with a 1.1 percent share in the global trade volume.

The spearhead company of this 4.4 billion revenue was Baykar, contributing 1.18 billion dollars to the pot.

Baykar is a private company mainly focusing on aerial machines like combat drones. Their products, such as the Bayraktar TB2 drone, made a name for their achievements in Libya, Ukraine, and Karabakh.

State firms such as ASELSAN, TUSAŞ, and ROKETSAN also export their products. However, their initial objective is to provide for the Turkish Military, so they mainly focus on that.

In 2023, Türkiye aims to hit the 6 billion dollar target. Almost 2.5 billion dollars worth of equipment has been sold to foreign states and private agencies in the first half of the year.

Vice President Cevdet Yılmaz said at IDEF’23 that the actual goal was to surpass 10 billion dollars.


Turkish defense industries made their way into the top players’ list, increasing Türkiye’s significance as an international player.

According to New America, Türkiye is one of the 29 countries that can produce armed drones.

Being one of the very few countries that produce armed drones gives Türkiye an upper hand in many situations.

For example, embargoes do not affect the Military’s arsenal as the equipment is indigenous. Arms embargoes posed a challenge for Ankara in its fight against terrorism.

Now that it is a self-sustaining country, such sanctions cannot prevent the Turkish Military from fighting with all its might.

Developing strategic leverage over other nations is another outcome for a country that can produce cutting-edge defense materiel, like Türkiye.

Since advanced military technology can bolster a country's military capabilities and project power, the producing country becomes a more influential player in regional and global affairs.

A similar trajectory can be seen in Türkiye’s recent regional relations: Ankara could help Azerbaijan fight off invaders in the Karabakh region by supplying materiel, as opposed to the First Karabakh War.

This influence can enable the country to shape alliances, deter potential adversaries, and assert its interests on the international stage. It changed the war’s course in many situations, like in Libya.

A more robust military comes with more potent materiel. According to Murat Yorulmaz’s recent article in the Journal of the Human and Social Science Researches, increasing capabilities of the Turkish equipment improved Ankara’s hard power output, activity, and assertiveness.

By supplying defense equipment to other countries, a nation can also gain influence over the recipient nation's defense capabilities.

According to T.V. Paul’s article from 1992, such trade relations can evolve into patronage links and create dependencies.

Countries that buy from Turkish manufacturers will be forced to come for repair and spare parts. This not only creates a secondary market that brings in more revenue but also creates a dependency between the seller and the buyer.

The dependency also comes as a political dependency. If a country solely or excessively buys arms from Türkiye, Ankara’s sphere of influence will grow in that region. Events of similar character may unfold in some African countries in the near future.

Mansur Ali Bilgiç -