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Pakistan and Turkey Look to Deepen Defence Ties

On 14 February, the governments of Turkey and Pakistan signed 13 agreements across a number of areas, including defence, research and development (R&D), and industrial domains. The two countries inked the agreements during the two-day official visit of the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Pakistan.

During a joint-press conference with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, Erdoğan stated that for Turkey, military and defence industry ties were the most important aspect of its relations with Pakistan.[1]

Erdoğan noted that Turkish companies were involved in 68 defence projects in Pakistan, which are worth over $3.5 billion US.[2] The sale of four MILGEM Ada corvettes and 30 T129 ATAK attack helicopters to the Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Army, respectively, are the main drivers of Turkey’s engagement in Pakistan.

There is no doubt that Turkey has a vested interest in securing additional big-ticket sales from Pakistan’s armed forces, especially in terms of drones and armoured vehicles. However, Ankara is also interested in engaging Pakistan at a deeper level, especially in terms of R&D.

In reference to Erdoğan’s visit, the leading official of Turkey’s Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB), Dr. Ismail Demir, told the Daily Sabah that the two countries should collaborate on R&D:

“I believe that forming research and development teams between Turkey and Pakistan and accelerating experience sharing will contribute to the defense industry. Establishing defense workshops and creating provision calendars for sectoral material will enhance both countries’ efficiency in the field.”[3]

It seems that Erdoğan achieved a step towards the SSB’s vision. Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and Pakistan’s National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST) signed a multi-part MoU for “student and faculty exchange, joint-research, and intellectual property training leading to technology transfer.”[4] TAI is also the first Turkish firm to set-up an office in Pakistan’s National Science & Technology Park (NSTP).

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[1] “Cumhurbaşkanı Erdoğan: “Askeri ve savunma sanayii alanları, Pakistan ile ikili i – İslamabad haber.” Haber Gazetesi. 14 February 2020. URL:

[2] “Turkey, Pakistan sign a string of memorandums of understanding.” TRT World. 14 February 2020. URL:

[3] Dilara Aslan. “Turkey, Pakistan relations peak with defense industry cooperation.” Daily Sabah. 13 February 2020. URL:

[4] National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST). Official Facebook Page. 14 February 2020. URL: https://