SETA > Opinion |
KAAN Türkiye's homegrown fighter jet and its bold message to

KAAN: Türkiye's homegrown fighter jet and its bold message to world

Türkiye has become one of five countries that build fifth-generation warplanes.

Türkiye has become one of five countries that build fifth-generation warplanes. That is what President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday in Kahramankazan, Ankara – where the country unveiled its indigenous aircraft called Hürjet and KAAN. Hürjet, Türkiye’s first supersonic manned jet plane, completed its maiden flight, as Kaan reached the runway. Both products attest to the revolutionary progress of our country’s defense industry. Many more will follow. Together with the TCG Anadolu, Gökbey, ANKA and Kızılelma, Monday’s ceremony highlighted the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government’s efforts to take the Turkish defense industry to the next level. In recent days, we have also talked about the electric car Togg, the observation satellite Imece, the Black Sea natural gas and the delivery of fuel rods to the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant. Frankly, each of those projects requires decades of hard work. Essentially, the Turkish government fit all that progress into a couple of weeks as a gift to the republic’s second century.

'Level of contemporary civilization'

Again, one might imagine the extent of this ongoing revolution by considering that Erdoğan spent the weekend at Teknofest, a technology and aerospace festival that attracts millions of people. All those steps are geared toward reaching and surpassing the “level of contemporary civilization” and are part of a holistic strategy. Such integrated investments in defense, technology and energy are intended to consolidate Türkiye’s independence and active role in the international arena. It wasn’t easy to get here. None of the current achievements would have been possible had the AK Party’s fight against domestic and foreign tutelage failed or Erdoğan lacked the political will needed. Türkiye’s ability to combine its hard and soft powers led to the active use of its defense products in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Karabakh – which marked the beginning of a new chapter. Interestingly enough, the AK Party has been around for 21 years yet remains miles ahead of all other political parties, including the Republican People’s Party (CHP), thanks to its massive strides toward modernization.

Erdoğan’s reputation

It goes without saying that the defense industry’s immense success remains among the main factors contributing to President Erdoğan’s reputation ahead of this month’s elections. For the record, the opposition does not quite know how to address that particular issue because building warplanes, armed drones and ships isn’t just about national pride. Those products also attest to the country’s technological progress and human capital. Furthermore, as Erdoğan underscores, such projects help the Turkish people in their country’s ability to ensure their safety, combat terrorism and look out for its interests abroad. In other words, the defense industry represents a combination of Erdoğan’s "politics of work" and the Turkish people’s hopes for the future. Its achievements restore the population’s confidence, highlight the importance of independence and put national interests first. It is important to recall that the AK Party government’s achievements and initiatives in the fields of defense, energy and diplomacy effectively transformed Türkiye’s national identity. That is why Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the opposition bloc’s presidential candidate and Republican People's Party (CHP) chairperson, and Ali Babacan, who chairs the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), encountered backlash over their partly critical statements about the defense industry. They made a serious mistake by threatening to “touch” the private sector in an attempt to target the government’s strengths. The armed drones alone increased the country’s capacity in many areas, including the fight against PKK terrorists, defense exports and supporting our allies. Hardly anyone has forgotten that Türkiye used to rely on the United States and Israel for drones. That is why Turkish voters aren’t just concerned about the possibility of the opposition potentially undermining the fight against the PKK and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) terrorists. They are also worried that the next government might undermine Türkiye’s defense, energy and diplomatic capabilities. The bottom line is that the country needs the kind of synergy necessary to build many more KAANs and Kızılelmas – so that it can promote peace, stability and cooperation in its neighborhood and actively contribute to the emergence of a new global architecture. [Daily Sabah, May 2 2023]