Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is working to secure Southeast Asian markets for its products, i.e. the Hürkuş trainer aircraft, Anka unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and T129 ATAK attack helicopter.
According to the Hurriyet, TAI General Manager Temel Kotil engaged with officials from Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand at the 2017 Defence & Security defence exhibition currently taking place in Bangkok, Thailand.
TAI responded to a request-for-information from the Royal Thai Army (RTA) for new attack helicopters, and is willing to partner with a local firm to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and logistics support for a prospective RTA T129 order (IHS Jane’s).
TAI expects Bangkok to make a decision ‘within one year’, though the company is confident of the T129 meeting the RTA’s requirements (Shephard Media). Thailand is also interested in the TAI Anka UAV.
The Hurriyet also reported that Bangladesh is interested in the T129, Anka and Hürkuş, indicating growing interest in TAI’s product catalogue in South Asia. Currently, Pakistan is negotiating with TAI and Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) for 30 T129 ATAK to replace its aging AH-1F/S Cobra.
Bangladeshi interest in the T129, Anka UAV and Hürkuş could indicate plans to build close air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. Bangladesh is undertaking a comprehensive modernization effort for its armed forces, marquee tenders – such as a bid for eight multi-role fighters (with an option for four) and two anti-submarine warfare helicopters – are already in motion.
Many of Bangkok’s defence modernization requirements are being met by China, from whom it has ordered VT1 main battle tanks (MBT), VN1 armoured fighting vehicles and S26T submarines. However, Thailand is also acquiring from Ukraine (for Oplot-M MBTs) and South Korea (for a multi-mission frigate).
For TAI, the Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian and Bangladeshi markets would be important inroads for each of its programs, especially the T129, in which Ankara invested significantly to secure manufacturing, design ownership and systems as well as weapons integration rights. The SSM is in the process of building credit and loan mechanisms to support the Turkish defence industry’s overseas commercial efforts.