In 1974, when the Turkish military started its Cyprus operation, Ankara faced a sudden and bitter reality. The U.S., as a major supplier of the Turkish Armed Forces, had stopped the delivery of all military equipment, from fighter jets to spare parts of field radios. Turkey had to ask Libya’s Muammar Gadhafi to borrow tires for the F-104s used in the Vietnam War. It was followed by an arms embargo by Congress in 1975. The Turkish government’s response was to close all NATO facilities in Turkey, including the strategic İncirlik air base, to the use of the American military.
That was a wakeup call for Ankara, which understood that it needed a national defense industry. The same year, the Military Electronics Industry of Turkey (ASELSAN) was established to meet the communication tool requirements of the Turkish Armed Forces. At the very beginning, the company had the modest target of producing hand radios for soldiers and policemen. Today, it produces and exports a wide-range of products, from complicated fire control systems to cryptography and information security systems. TurkishAerospace Industries (TAI) started to jointly produce the American F-16s under license in Turkey with national software in 1987. Nowadays, TAI are in talks with the British BAE systems for the possibility of jointly developing a fifth generation fighter jet. Roketsan was established in 1988 to build nationally designed rockets and missiles. Turkey has been producing its own armored vehicles and light tanks since 1989. There are a couple of companies producing and exporting those vehicles. The Turkish navy has been using indigenous designs and produced corvettes for years and, on a similar program, frigates to stop import dependency. The 155 mm self-propelled howitzers, with 45-km range and which have been used against PKK targets in Syria and Iraq, are locally designed and produced by the public Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKE) in its facilities in the northwestern province of Kırıkkale.