Among NATO members, Turkey is perhaps the state facing the most volatile regional environment. Bordered by the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Caucasus and Iran, sharing frontiers with states confronted with terrorist groups or at war such as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, Turkey is also grappling with an armed Kurdish independence movement. Moreover, even if it is allied with Greece through NATO, the relations between Ankara and Athens remain problematic.
This sense of insecurity has contributed to maintain the grip of the military on the conduct of business in Ankara. The government has agreed to long and heavy efforts to support and even develop the country's defense capabilities. However, like many emerging countries, Turkish ambitions do not only lie in the purchase of advanced military equipment. Ankara's intention is to draw upon its military acquisition budgets to develop domestic weapons design and production capabilities, the goal being to gradually reach the level of the world leaders in the field.
This report seeks to evaluate Turkey's position in the global arms market by exposing the country's arms import and export dynamics. The importance given to the military and to the defense technological and industrial base (BTID) in Turkey is not new. Recent years have seen a breakthrough of Turkish products in export markets. Ankara aims to become a major arms exporter and seems inclined to devote the necessary resources to achieve this goal. However, the challenges are significant and there is no guarantee they can all be addressed. The actors of the Turkish BITD are still limited in terms of both, presence on the international markets and technological expertise.