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Turkish Aerospace Industries; New CEO, New Projects…

by Serap Zuvin and Aybala Kurtuldu with Serap Zuvin Law Offices in Istanbul, Turkey


A Brief History

Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc (“TAI”) is a commercial company, 54.49% shares of which are owned by Turkish Armed Forces Foundation and 45.45% by Undersecretariat for Defense Industries. TAI gained that shareholding structure back in 2005, following the merger of two companies; Turkish Aircraft Industries Corporation (“TUSAS”) and TUSAS Aerospace Industries, Inc.

TUSAS was established back in 1973 under the Ministry of Industry and Technology with the aim of strengthening the Turkish aerospace and defense industry and decreasing the foreign dependency in the sector. Later on, in 1984, TUSAS Aerospace Industries, Inc. was established, this time to meet the needs of Turkish Air Force and co-production of F-16s in Turkey under a Turkish and US partnership for a period of 25 years.  In 2005, 21 years following its establishment and just before 4 years for the term of that partnership to expire,  shares of the US partners were  acquired by the Turkish party. Then, in 2005, TUSAS and TUSAS Aerospace Industries, Inc. merged and TAI came out as the merged entity. TAI was established by the Turkish State to perform as the central unit for Turkey to design, develop and manufacture aerospace systems, including fixed and rotary wing air platforms, UAVs and satellites, and conduct R&D in technology.


Major Projects

TAI has become one of the leading corporations with global recognition due to its success in the aerospace and defense industries. TAI’s success can be categorized in five different strategic groups; (1) Aero-structures, (2) Aircraft, (3) Helicopter, (4) UAVs and (5) Space Systems Groups.

Under the strategic groups, TAI manages a big portfolio of programs among which  T129 Attack Helicopter, T625 General Utility Helicopter, ANKA Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Air Vehicle System, HURKUS Basic Trainer Aircraft and Communication/Observation Satellites could be listed as examples.


Further Details about TAI Projects

As the aerospace industry leader in the country  and carrying  the obligation to keep much information confidential, TAI is a transparent corporation to the maximum limits that it can be.

Within its transparency context, TAI regularly informs the public regarding the on-going  projects.

1.  Aerostructure Group Projects

TAI collaborates with world’s leading OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) such as Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman and Leonardo. The platforms include Airbus A350 and A320 series, A400M, Boeing B787, B737 series, Bombardier C Series, Leonardo AW139, Lockheed (Sikorsky) S-70/UH-60 and similar. TAI undertakes role as a subcontractor, design partner or risk sharing partner in these leading aerospace programs.

2.  Aircraft Group Projects

The aircraft group undertakes new aircraft development projects as well as modernization/modifications of already existing platforms. Below list includes some of TAI projects:

i.  TFX – Turkish Fighter Aircraft

This exciting project was brought into life in order to meet the needs of Turkish Air Force’s future fighter requirements.  It is expected that the first flight of the aircraft will take place in 2023.

ii.  HURKUS (New Generation Basic Trainer)

Under this program three different aircraft configurations are in the process of development. One of the aircraft configurations is “HURKUS A” with the basic configuration certified in accordance with the requirements of EASA CS-23. The other configuration is “HURKUS B”, which is the configuration developed by the integrated avionics such as the HUD, MFD, INS/GPS etc.). HURKUS C is planned to be configured for light attack and armed reconnaissance roles.

iii.  Modernization Programs

The aircraft group provides solutions to modernization/modification requirements of different air platforms. The projects undertaken so far include F-16, C-130, T-38 modernizations, Peace Eagle (AWACS) and Meltem II/III programs.

3.  Helicopter Projects

There are a number of  projects; T129 ATAK is one of the major programs aiming to develop a new generation helicopter specially designed for attack and reconnaissance purposes. T129 ATAK helicopters have unique features developed for the use of Turkish Army Forces and the platforms are also offered to ally Forces.


One of the vision programs of Turkey, the new light twin helicopter T625 is also developed by TAI. The new 6 tone helicopter will be certified by EASA and offered to both civil and military customers.

4.  UAV Projects

Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) systems are increasingly used for military and civil surveillance requirements. ANKA taking its name from the legendary bird, is the new Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) class UAV developed by TAI.  There are a number of variants of the system with different mission capabilities.

5.  Space Systems Projects

TAI acts as the prime integrator for Turkish Satellite programs. USET (Space Systems Integration and Test Center) of TAI incorporates state of the art infrastructure to develop and test observation/communication and intelligence satellites. The compnay has launched two satellites namely Gokturk 1 and Gokturk 2 succesfully up to date.


Temel Kotil, as the new CEO & President of TAI

Quite recently, Temel Kotil, who acted as the  CEO of Turkish Airlines between 2005 until 2016, and who worked as the Deputy General Manager from Turkish Airlines between 2003 to 2005, was appointed as the CEO and the President of TAI.

Temel Kotil graduated from Aeronautical Engineering at Istanbul Technical University (ITU) in 1983. He then received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1991.  In 2010, Temel Kotil was elected as a Board of Governors of Association of European Airlines (“AEA”) and became the Vice President between the years of 2012 and 2013, and in 2014 and he acted as the President of AEA in 2014.

Temel Kotil achieved a remarkable success during his career between 2005 and 2016 as the CEO of Turkish Airlines. According to the statements, Turkish Airlines was flying to 102 different destinations, flying 2000 times within a week and carrying 12 million passengers with a fleet capacty of 73 aircraft. At the end of 2015, the numbers have substantially increased and the company reached to fly to 282 destinations with 9000 flights per week and 61 milion passengers and 299 aircraft. Under the leadership of Mr. Kotil Turkish Airlines has ranked among the 10 biggest airline companies in the world and its margin within the global market has increased from 0,5 percent to 2 percent.

After leaving such a significant success at the back, Temel Kotil now aims to reserve a significant place for TAI among the global players in the defense industry.  With his engineer impulse he attaches importance to R&D such as TAI’s Reverse Brain Drain Project, offering employment opportunities mainly to Turkish citizens working abroad and foreigners willing to work in Turkey.

Being formally named as the CEO of TAI since October 21 only, Mr. Kotil has already initiated and/or taken place in major projects and activities. To date, Mr. Kotil has signed a heads of agreement regarding a  EURO 100+ million deal on January 28, 2017 with the CEO of the British BAE Systems Graham King. According to such deal, BAE Systems will join forces with TAI to develop a fifth generation fighter, TF-X, for the Turkish Air Force by 2020s.

It is quite likely that, having a very successful background as a CEO, Temel Kotil, will manage this inspiring, big corporation carrying out most of the local manufacturing and located on 4.000.000 m2 land, having more than 5300 employees, very successfully as he did with Turkish Airlines, and will achieve a global recognition.


Future Vision

Aforesaid successes of TAI together with the all Research and Development Works and the opportunities provided for the engineers, are the very best signals for Turkey to make a mark in the global defense sector and the big players in the field. As we are the ones to closely follow any and all innovation, formation, initiation of the modernized projects, we have the strong belief in TAI to accomplish the targeted goals and the projects; so that it will be one of the greatest players in its specific field, such as Turkish Airlines, and will bring wealth to Turkey’s industry with the local manufacturing facilities.



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