Why allies should jointly produce arms

Nowadays, the Turkish defense industry is reaping what it has sowed. The latest bulk of sales was achieved during The Indo Defense Expo & Forum conducted between Nov. 2 and Nov. 5. Through a number of cooperation and sales contracts, Turkish firms sold anti-drone weapons, surface-to-air missiles, surface-to-surface missiles, patrol vessels and so on. Türkiye’s renowned drones are also expected to be sold to the Indonesian army. Since some weapons ordered are yet to be in the Turkish army’s inventory, this means that both Turkish and Indonesian armies will probably have the same weapons at the same time.

As the sales volume of Turkish arms has sharply increased, so did exports. Türkiye’s defense exports might exceed $4 billion at the end of the year. Turkish firms achieved this success despite declared and undeclared embargoes exerted by Western countries, most of which are NATO allies. Obviously, the number of exports would be higher, had there not been embargoes. Although embargoes have a motivating impact on Turkish arms producers, they also take from their time and profit. However, overall, embargoes are not stopping the Turks to increase their share of the arms market.

In fact, there is a more brilliant opportunity for both Türkiye and its customers; joint production. Türkiye is struggling with embargoes that slow down its progress in the defense industry. Some weapons such as the Altay tank and air defense missiles could have been produced till now but the process was halted due to the ban on engine sales to Turkish producers. While Türkiye’s stubborn stance results in the production eventually, the industry unnecessarily faces difficulties and loses time.

A permanent solution to all woes of arms production is to produce it together. Türkiye has so many allies such as Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Ukraine, Qatar, Kuwait and so on. Even Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Balkan countries can be added. These countries and many others not mentioned here lack either the know-how, production experience, raw materials or financing. Therefore, producing an advanced weapon alone is almost impossible.

Türkiye paved the way

Since Türkiye has opened the way for production and reached a good level, other allied states can join Turkish projects from the current point and maintain the process together. For instance, Indonesian engineers already have experience in aviation. Pakistanis are good at missile production. Azerbaijani experts can produce armored vehicles. Ukrainians have the know-how for so many weapons. On the other hand, Gulf Arab states have lucrative funds to finance projects.

As even the United States and European countries combine their powers to manufacture sophisticated products, there is no reason for those countries not to collaborate. Whereas many reasons can be suggested for joint production. First, it enables better products at a lower price. As Weiss and Biermann argue, by cooperation, “research and development costs can be shared; economies of scale decrease the production costs per unit; a division of labor facilitates the use of comparative advantages of the cooperation partners.”

In addition, as a positive side effect, it creates new investments and jobs, boosting the country’s economy, not mentioning the effectiveness of the defense-industrial sector. Another benefit is the transfer of know-how from one partner to the other one, which helps the weaker state to catch the stronger one in terms of knowledge. In addition, since multinational operations have increased and weapons are also exported, joint production leads to improvement in the interoperability of military systems and standardization. Furthermore, “countries can, for example, cooperate on development, purchases and maintenance, or education and training, or to coordinate or share capabilities. The deeper the integration, the more military capabilities it provides access to, but by the same token.”

Impossible to be self-sufficient

What is more, such cooperation will lead to self-help and possessing advanced weapons without hurting the state budget as much. Leaving aside two or three countries in the world, it is not possible for any country to be self-sufficient in weapons supply. But defense industrial cooperation helps a country to obtain a weapon it would never obtain itself. For example, if Pakistan has JF-17 fighters, it is because of the Chinese help. As another example, Malaysia (and soon Indonesia) is able to produce indigenous tanks with the help of a Turkish company. Coproduction also solves the problem of minimum production.

Sometimes, a country makes a lot of investment but makes a loss in the end as its orders do not pay off, causing a great burden on the economy. However, when there are more countries involved in the production, the total number of orders generally exceeds the minimum order and lets producers make a profit from it. If they also export weapons, their profit increases. Finally, increased cooperation strengthens interstate alliances, political collaboration, socialization and trust among states.

Actually, people in the defense industry are already aware of the benefits and call governments to cooperate. For instance, Temel Kotil, the head of Türkiye’s second biggest defense company TUSAŞ Engine Industries (TEI), a Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) engine manufacturing subsidiary, called for Indonesia to join Türkiye’s indigenous fighter, the MMU. Mr. Kotil’s call is probably to all other allied states as well. The aforementioned states should not miss this opportunity and respond positively to this call. Türkiye has interests but also friends, and friendship is necessary for interests, particularly nowadays.

Source: Daily Sabah

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