Faisal Al Bannai,
Faisal Al Bannai, Secretary General, Advanced Technology Research Council, delivering keynote address "Shaping an Innovation Economy" on the day 2 of 10th World Government Summit at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. 14th February 2023 Image Credit: Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Ankara: Abu Dhabi-owned defence company EDGE Group said it’s weighing billions of dollars of investments in Turkey after it signed preliminary deals with firms, including Aselsan Elektronik Sanayi and drone-maker Baykar Teknoloji.

EDGE CEO Faisal Al Bannai met with heads of major defence companies in Turkey to discuss possible acquisitions, joint development projects and purchase of military systems.

The company has earmarked an investment budget of “a few billion dollars”, Al Bannai said in an interview on October 11 in Ankara. “What part of that will go into Turkey depends on what opportunities are there. If there is opportunity for half a billion dollars, $1 billion, $2 billion “— whatever — then we will invest”.

Abu Dhabi is seeking collaboration in autonomous and electronic warfare systems as well as smart weapons, Al Bannai said. His meetings with top Turkish firms, including drone-maker Baykar, follow a pledge by the UAE to invest more than $50 billion into Turkey’s economy.

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Turkey’s defence industry emerged as a key recipient of petrodollars after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Gulf trip to attract funds. Baykar, run by Erdogan’s son-in-law, already inked the biggest supply deal in its history with Saudi Arabia.

Drones and missiles

Al Bannai said Edge created a new entity called Malath to lead its engagement with Turkish companies. It also signed dozens of memorandums of understanding with Turkish companies, including state-run defence contractor Aselsan, government-owned missile manufacturer Roketsan, riot truck-maker Katmerciler and Baykar.

Roketsan CEO Murat Ikinci said the talks with EDGE were “aimed at joint production and export of all products developed by Turkish companies”.

“We are talking about cooperation worth billions of dollars per year,” Ikinci told Bloomberg in Ankara on October 11. “The process is going quite fast.”

Furkan Katmerci, deputy CEO of Katmerciler, said: “This is the first spark and we need to work to grow it,” adding “Significant opportunities may arise in the region.”

Aselsan declined to comment on the agreement. Baykar didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Teams from Edge and Turkish defence companies will study “which missile programme we could do together, which drone program we can do together,” EDGE’s Al Bannai said. The UAE is also interested in acquisition of Baykar’s newly developed TB3 combat drones, he added.