Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI)


The world’s 69th largest arms company, headquartered in Ankara, TAI produces fighter jets, as well as helicopters and drones for both attack and surveillance.

TAI has a number of subsidiaries around the world, including in Toulouse and Hamburg.

TF-X fighter jet

TAI is currently producing the new Turkish TF-X twin engine fighter jet, alongside British company BAE Systems. The Turkish Air Force is planning to buy over 250 TF-X jets.

Turkey desperately wanted the TF-X to be ready in 2023, when the government celebrates its Turkey’s 100th anniversary of becoming a republic. But news reports state that the jet is unlikely to fly before the end of the 2020s.

Manufacturing the ATAK helicopters which invaded Afrin

In 2014, the T129 ATAK helicopter was brought into use by the Turkish Airforce, developed by TAI and Italian arms company AgustaWestland (now Leonardo).

ATAK helicopters were used in Turkey’s assault on Afrin in early 2018. YPG/YPJ forces downed a Turkish ATAK helicopter during the invasion.

In late 2018, Erdoğan announced that Turkey would launch another operation in Rojava, and that the ATAK helicopters would be further fortified.

The helicopters are also being used in Turkey’s attacks on Iraqi Kurdistan, dubbed Operation Claw. Munitions from ATAK helicopters hit various villages in 2019.

ATAK helicopters are used in Bakur, the majority-Kurdish region of south-eastern Turkey.

In 2019, it was announced that TAI would be manufacturing the ATAK-2 helicopter, to be used in an “armed scouting role.”

Killer Anka drones

Since it renewed its attacks on Kurdish guerillas and civilians in 2015, Turkey stated that it would buy new drones from TAI and Baykar Makina. The Turkish police stated that they were “to be used against rising terror attacks”.

TAI’s Anka drone made its first mission flight February 2016. Turkish Deputy Defence Minister Suay Alpay stated: “We are now engaged in a critical anti-terror fight…These assets built by the local industry will augment our fight.”

The Anka has evolved from being a surveillance drone to becoming a weaponised aircraft, crucial to Turkey in its various assaults on Syria. In 2017, Turkey announced that it had fitted Roketsan’s MAM-L missiles onto the Anka. In August 2018, the Anka carried out Turkey’s first satellite-controlled airstrike.

In October 2019, Turkey began its invasion of Rojava, north-eastern Syria, dubbed ‘Operation Peace Spring’. TAI’s Anka drones were used in the attacks.

In February 2020, Turkey began ‘Operation Spring Shield’, its assault on the Assad regime in Idlib. Turkish state-propaganda newspaper Daily Sabah said that the attack was “run entirely by locally developed armed drones.” TAI’s Anka-S drones were extensively used, along with Baykar’s TB2 drones.

TAI is about to unveil its modified twin engine version of the Anka-S armed drone, named Aksungur.

Baykuş surveillance & target acquisition drone

In an interview with The Canary, a YPG volunteer explained which weapons were used by Turkey in its assault on Afrin in 2018. The volunteer said:

“F16s were conducting the air strikes and then three types of drones. Two were unarmed surveillance drones… [including the] Turkish Aerospace Industries Baykuş, and then there was one armed drone called the Bayraktar which is produced in Turkey… The Bayaktar fires rockets: the Roketsan MAM-L smart micro-munition.

The drones, especially the surveillance drones, could stay in the air for about fifteen hours… I have the name of one surveillance drone: the TAI Baykuş.”

Links to Erdoğan and the Turkish state

TAI is 54.49% owned by the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation (TAFF). President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the chair of TAFF. TAFF was established by the Turkish Ministry of Industry and Technology in 1973 to reduce the Turkish military’s reliance on foreign imports of arms.

TAFF’s board of trustees include the Minister of National Defence and the Deputy Chief of the General Staff. All of TAFF’s managers are, or have been, officers in the Turkish armed forces.

European subsidiaries

TAI has a number of subsidiaries around the world, including sites in the US, as well as in Pakistan and Malaysia. In Europe, TAI has sites in Toulouse, France, and Hamburg, Germany.

TAI Hamburg was formed in 2016 when it acquired Grunewald Stade, a subsidiary of Airbus. According to a TAI website, the German branch still works with Airbus to manufacture parts. TAI sees the German acquisition as key to the company expanding globally.

Take action

  • Protest TAI’s involvement in London’s biannual DSEI arms fair, to be held in September 2019 in London’s Docklands.
  • Demonstrate at TAI’s European subsidiaries.
  • Protest against Lockheed Martin’s and Airbus’ partnerships with TAI, and their arming of Turkey.

Basic company information

Global Presence: Headquartered in Ankara. The company has a global reach, with four subsidiaries in the US, plus France, Germany, Pakistan and Malaysia.

Business area: Manufacturer of drones and drone systems, military aircraft, helicopters

Founded: 2005

Traded on: Istanbul Stock Exchange

Ownership: Owned by a number of Turkish state and quasi state industries: Turkish Armed Forces Foundation (54.49%), Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (45.45%), Turkish Aeronautical Association (0.06%).

People: Oğuz Borat, Temel Kotil (President and CEO)

Participation in arms fairs: View a full list of TAI’s participation in arms fairs.

Website: tusas.com