Turkish Military Power, Made by Germany?

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Rheinmetall, through a Turkish-Qatari joint venture, hopes to build Turkey's next tank. Picture source: Reuters

The Turkish economy has struggled in the face of political instability at home and war in the neighboring Middle East, but there’s one sector that is still primed for growth – the national defense industry.

The order comes straight from the top. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intends to transform Turkey into a regional military heavyweight, and he has made clear that money is no object. The Turkish government has increased its defense budget by 11.4 percent over 2016 for a total of $19.9 billion (€17 billion).

Germany, Turkey’s most important trade partner, has traditionally played an important role in the building Ankara’s military power. In 2015, Berlin approved €39 million ($45 million) in defense exports to its NATO ally.

“Turkey is in one of the most volatile regions of the world, which is why we will have a large need for defense and security measures in the future,” said Engin Aykol, head of the Turkish weapons manufacturer Nurol Makina, which specializes in armored vehicles and is based in Ankara.

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