Turkey’s defense committee has approved billions of dollars in additional defense spending, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Wednesday. Much of the spending would go toward domestic military production at a time when the country faces growing regional threats, Defense News reported.
“Today we approved $5.9 billion worth of new defense projects. Around $4.5 billion worth of these projects will consist of local production,” Davutoğlu said.
The premier, who chairs the Defense Industry Executive Committee, said the country has advanced in domestic production in recent years. The development by a Turkish company of a medium-altitude drone, which debuted last month, moved Turkey away from relying on foreign drone production. At the same time, Davutoğlu said Turkey was planning to receive 17 attack helicopters this year, adding to the 10 that were co-produced by the Italian-British AugustaWestland and Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries.
Turkey has sought to expand its domestic defense industry in recent months. A Saudi Arabian and a Turkish military company signed a joint venture deal last month with the stated aim of improving regional security through improving military technology. Both Turkey’s state-controlled Aselsan and Saudi Arabia Taqnia Defense and Security Technologies hold 50 percent stake in the deal.
Much of the expanded threats within Turkey relate to the nearly five-year war in neighboring Syria. Turkish cities have been the site of a series of terrorist attacks by the Islamic State group as well as Kurdish and left-wing militants. The country’s southeast has recently seen soaring violence as a decadeslong conflict with the Kurdistan Workers' Party has resurfaced. Turkey has placed a number of cities under curfew and has carried out wide-scale military operations, raising concerns over alleged human rights abuses.
Amid the spiraling regional violence, Turkey has built up its defense industry. In the first two months of the year, the country’s defense exports rose by 35 percent, Davutoğlu reportedly said.