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IDEF 2019 Is Going To Be Massive

April 8, 2019

Via Wikimedia Commons.

The 14th installment of the International Defense Industry Fair or IDEF 2019 will span five days, from April 30 until May 3, in Istanbul’s Tuyap Fair Convention and Congress Center. Organized with the help of the defense ministry and the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation, IDEF 2019 promises to overshadow similar events in Eastern Europe and the Middle East for its dazzling scale. More than a thousand exhibitors are registered and visitor turnout is expected to surpass the 65,782 people who showed up for IDEF 2017.

21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR) is a media partner for IDEF 2019.

The biggest attractions for companies and groups participating in IDEF 2019 are the product launches where Turkey’s best known manufacturers, nearly all of whom are involved in supplying the armed forces, reveal their latest offerings. This decade has seen a flowering of Turkish military innovation driven by demand from abroad and carefully planned modernization efforts. Whether in air, land, sea, and space, Turkish manufacturers are busy with a next-generation main battle tank, at least one amphibious assault ship, a stealth fighter to rival the F-22 Raptor, and a whole family of unmanned systems. These are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg and a lot of less famous military projects are in the works.

But IDEF 2019 is a different story. By bringing local and foreign companies together it proves Turkey remains an attractive destination for business opportunities in aerospace, military procurement, and homeland security. Checking the exhibitor list for the show confirms the overwhelming presence of local firms with 477 Turkish entities registered to attend. The next largest bloc are the EU as whole, with almost 200 exhibitors from the continent joining in. The leader among them is the UK, with 57 companies exhibiting, followed by Germany with 50 companies under their pavilions.

In a sure sign of warm relations despite controversial headlines, the American presence in IDEF 2019 is unmistakable with 125 exhibitors ready to hunt for tenders. By comparison, Russian exhibitors are a minor presence with just nine companies and no major arms deals in the works aside from the troublesome S-400 theater air defense system acquisition. The Russians are outnumbered by the Ukrainians at IDEF 2019, as Ankara and Kyiv continue building a patron-client relationship. Asian countries are enjoying greater prominence with 57 exhibitors from China and 24 exhibitors from South Korea.

Military cooperation between China and Turkey goes back decades but has never attracted suspicion. As a result, Turkey’s aerospace sector acquired technology NATO suppliers couldn’t share and companies such as Roketsan produced ballistic missiles without consequence. A more wholesome relationship is maintained with South Korea, whose own manufacturers are willing to launch joint ventures in Turkey. One impressive outcome is the Firtina 155mm self-propelled howitzer.

A particular subset participating in IDEF 2019 are Arab states like Bahrain, Jordan, and the UAE; countries whose military ambitions are almost tethered to the expertise of Turkish manufacturers. Although the extent of Qatar’s involvement with the show is unknown, Doha’s special relationship with Ankara is illustrative of the latter’s influence across the region. There’s bad blood with some Arab states but goodwill for others. A collection of Turkish allies outside the confines of NATO are at IDEF 2019 too. Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Pakistan each have pending arms deals or are eager for new ventures with Turkey.

IDEF 2019 is renowned for its meticulous organization and packed schedule. With the national economy humming along, Turkey’s rise as a leading arms exporter faces few obstacles and this should be apparent during the show. For the sake of publicity, the organizers encourage companies attending IDEF 2019 to contact the media partner IHS Jane’s if they want their products broadcast on YouTube. Requests for interviews can be sent to:

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