s and israel, but that technological gap has largely evaporated. Countries like china, russia and india have all raced to produce their own homemade drones, both for military and commercial use, but it’s turkey’s success with uavs on the battlefield that has caught the attention of both policy makers and industry watchers. In just a decade. Turkey has become a country that was once reliant on foreign drones to becoming a net exporter and key innovator. In the past three years, turkish military drones have proved decisive in three conflicts, including azerbaijan’s victory last year in nagorno karabakh, the assad regime’s attempt to retake the province of idlib and its millions of internally displaced people was also halted, so were plans by libyan warlord, alifah Haftar, whose offensive on tripoli last year was a disaster for the city’s civilians. So how did turkey’s upstart drone industry turn into a world class innovator and to answer that joining me from ankara is marve sedan. She is an assistant professor at ankara, hilda rambez at university and from london elizabeth bro. She is a resident fellow at the american enterprise institute. Ladies welcome to straight talk, it’s good, to have you on the program marve. How has the turkish defense industry evolved in the last two decades and what was the driving force behind this development? Καλά, στην πραγματικότητα, you know that there are so many divergences between turkey and its allies on the regional matters, and i think that brought the desire and motivation to achieve itself sufficiency in defense and, Πρώτα απ' όλα, over the past 18 χρόνια, ankara has been coping with growing Concerns related to its foreign, you know foreign source dependency for critical defense technologies and uh, and it has evolved and deepened since the cold war.
Στην πραγματικότητα, as we see – and you know that turkey experienced so many disappointments and on you know unexpected uh cases in its defense industry, for instance, as um everybody knows, we have got this united states arms embargo on turkey between the years 1975 78. But on the other side uh, even in the you know, over the past 18 years we have witnessed so many direct and indirect um arms embargoes by the united states, even not to sell its predators to turkey because of what happened in gaza in 2010. So and the second thing that we can imagine there, you know that, owing to the jail political risk and opportunities, i think turkey wanted to reinforce its military during the turins at the regional level, and turkey wanted to become a key um country in its military deterrence And influence in the region, and in order to achieve this in order to realize this object, the turkey you know uh wanted to you know also its problem is localization nationalization and strategic autonomy, which will you know, help turkey to solve its complex issues. Uh stem affirming the um heavy reliance on the foreign minds, yeah so and yes, elizabeth. Why have turkish uh drones become so popular? What do they provide different than the others? Ναι, that is an interesting development that may be surprising to some that the point is that not that many countries make um drones and not many countries have companies that make on drones.
I should say so so turkey is one of those few countries that do have uh that’s uh, that ability and so uh. It puts it in quite uh, unusual or rare companies, so the united states, για παράδειγμα, china, israel and and, as i said, turkey so that’s a in a sense, an unexpected export opportunity for turkey, which countries are picking up on it and buying these drones so um. What kind of i mean? How has actually turkish drones performance in libya, syria and uh nagorno karabakh, been a game changer and did azerbaijan’s victory over nagorno karabakh come as a surprise to many well. Στην πραγματικότητα, it was not a surprise because you know the demand for turkish drones has been only increased since the 2015. και, as you said, turkey, you know these turkish drones are combat proven, so you you didn’t use them only just in the uh uh in the overseas Contingency operations in azerbaijan, libya, northern iraq, asia, but alternate has been also using its own drone systems in turkey, and you know that turkey has become one of the handful countries that has mastery in the strong technology. So first use them. You use them in the combat terrorism, combating terrorism inside the country, and then you started using the uh operations cross border operations and another thing that i think we have to mention: Είναι, not just only the sophisticated technology, but why turkey is turkish turkeys. You know in the rise in the defense market are: is that turkey, when you are comparing with the united states and uh the israel drones uh? I think the turkeys foreign military sales pro procedures are less complicated and restrictive than the us and israel.
So the acquisition of turkish drones are being easier and faster to purchase and then uh. You also see that when you enter the global drone market, so the countries are looking at each other’s procurement choices. Ναι, so once turkey started to sell its drones to ukraine to qatar, and then it has become increasingly more attractive for the others and last thing that we should mention that political relations are also. This is in procurement options. You know that, as i told you so once united states, you know canceled selling, predators to turkey yeah when the united, when the israeli you know, delayed uh the procurement of the herons. You know you know that the background is also because of the political divergences divergences between the countries yeah, so elizabeth. What are the challenges likely to face turkey? If turkey becomes a major uh drone producer, rivaling, the us and the uk, could it worry other producers around the world and negatively impact turkey’s relations with other countries? It definitely could, and the point to date is that it has been clear that that the us is is the world’s sort of top uh drone uh manufacturer american companies are the top drone manufacturers. But what happens if turkey starts rivaling, that and and as we heard uh the point of of uh turkish drones is also that that turkish la a bit less uh strict when it comes to selling them to others. So what if, if turkish drones start being sold? Uh, quite widely, all over the world, uh allies – i don’t think uh will take very kindly to that both because it poses a a problem in terms of of uh where they’re used and which conflicts they use, but also because it it essentially takes markets away.
Uh from from those allies, so it is uh in essence, a standoff waiting to happen and probably already emerging so um. What kind of advantages do these drones provide on battlefields when compared to other conventional uh weapons uh, for instance, the the most important that you know that there are so many functionalities functions of the drone system? Έτσι, Πρώτα απ' όλα, you are providing intelligence require science or violence, and then you have got like target and kill. Έτσι, Πρώτα απ' όλα, when turkey started to use these drones, most of them were, you know at the beginning, at the first phase, they were just all for you know, helping for supporting intelligence, requiem science and survivors capabilities, but later than you are done, and then you Produce your own combat drones, so there’s, a distinction between arming the drones or producing combat drones are totally different, so combat producing combat rooms are something much more sophisticated technology, so you are providing near air support. You are sharing intelligence, current intelligence, all the time you are sharing imaginary intelligence, Εεε, so you’re just protecting your soldier. The boots on the ground are always boots on the ground and i think, for instance, if you are providing near air support with the helicopters they’re only taking like two hours, but if you are providing with the drone systems, uh they’re just 24 hours they’re on the Air and they’re, you know supporting them and another thing that it’s creating strategic flexibility in the combat area, and also it is bri it has bringing you uh of superiority by operation superior to your army.
It also helped tremendously turkey in its fight against terrorism within its own borders, so elizabeth uh, what kind of dangers could this unlimited production of drones pose to international order? Is there any international legal framework which regulate or restrict their production? Well it’s. At the moment, uh almost completely unclear how drones are covered by international law. Στην πραγματικότητα, they are not specifically covered by international law, so it’s really up to countries to to interpret international law and then – and so they they, if they decide uh to to uh, interpret international law in a sort of a liberal way. They can say well. Drones are not covered and we can essentially use them as we like, and that is a challenge at the moment. We need some sort of arms control treaty, uh regulating uh, the the use of armed drones, uh specifically, but it’s unlikely that that will happen, because so many countries have have a stake and and and have a specific interest in in the outcome of such uh. Of such negotiations, so it is essentially sort of the almost like the nuclear discuss discussion of our age, who will go first, who will volunteer to uh, reduce the the opportunities for for armed drones and conflicts, it’s it’s completely sort of up in the air who will Who will take the first steps uh first step and where the other countries will follow accordingly? Εντάξει, so very quickly marvel: how will it change the warfare in the future? What does the common use of uh drones tell us about that? I think that not the drones, but just the unarmed systems will change totally the combat area.
So once you are just – and you are not just only you know – producing unmanned air vehicles, but you are producing unmanned, you know ships, unmanned tanks, unmanned any kind of like vehicles in the sea on the ground, so i think even your jet fighters. You know that f35s will be the last man. You know jet fighters, yes fighters, so i think it’s uh when it’s an integration of old forces. You cannot just you know, change the game in the combat area, but your drone systems, but you have got you – are going to change the system with the air defense system with your missile technology, Όλα. Έτσι, Νομίζω, Είναι. A combination of you know, integration of all the forces that you have got and uh. It is just only possible to you know, force projection by you know all of the forces and just wanting to mention uh about this. When we were talking about about the international law and other stuff, what will be a challenge for turkey? You know that uh in the recent news uh you witnessed that the canada, you know the canada government, you know cancelled. You know selling some camps, turkey in the drone systems, but you see that when it comes to the international law is elizabeth stated or international law or the you know, prisoners or secretaries. I think what is important is that it’s, not the selling of the drones, but rather the end user criterias are very important in that respect.
So i think it is a matter uh. When turkey is using in which combat area turkey is using its own drone systems. One turkey used in northern iraq in syria. It was not a really big problem for canada, but when it comes to the azerbaijan, it was a big problem. You know they were much more harsher on this issue, but i just it’s uh. You know that we see that countries are when they’re procure king or accusing um. You know acquiring this drone system. We see double standards among the countries, for instance, canada is selling. You know its uh arms to saudi arabia, but when it, why didn’t they cancel it. Ναι, Εντάξει, now that we see turkey will be exporting drones to various countries. Τέλος, to morocco, elizabeth: could you talk to us about the economic benefits of turkey’s drone industry i mean provides when it comes to job creation, export earnings and reversing turkey’s brain drain yeah, so that the point of of uh drones and on drums, armed drones in particular, Is that they are essentially a new category of weaponry that countries are now all trying to buy or most developed countries and some other countries are trying to buy and so that’s a huge uh, a market that is is being populated as well. I mean you can think about uh when, when we all migrated from lps to cds, all of a sudden, everybody was buying cds and that’s in a sense what’s happening now on on on the military markets.
So it’s it’s not uh, sort of a traditional or established form of weaponry that that some countries are renewing it’s, Είναι, completely new form, and so, για. Νομίζω, for the next few years. We’Ll see enormous growth here, and that includes, Φυσικά, uh growth in in turkish exports as well uh. Αλλά, as i said, the next step will be to see whether there will be some sort of international agreement on on limitation on limiting the use of armed drones. But nevertheless, countries will want to have them, maybe just use them less all right, ladies. Δυστυχώς, we’ll have to leave it here.