Türkiye owes a lot to the Greek lobby in the US Congress; mostly in the field of its arms industry.
This sentence came to my mind when I read the news that 35 members of the US Congress wrote to President Joe Biden expressing opposition to the proposed sale of F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye. On the same day, 9 July, Türkiye’s Defense Company Baykar, shared the images of 7 Bayraktar AKINCI UCAVs that they manufactured as a fled.
Bayraktar AKINCI is an updated model of the TB-2 SİHAs, produced by the same company and gained worldwide recognition with the Ukraine war, with a longer range, flying higher and carrying more bombs; Those who want can examine the features from this link. This is not the only UCAV brand that Türkiye exports to international markets. For example, there is ANKA produced by TAI, an UAV for intelligence, monitoring and reconnaissance purposes. Its features are also in this link.
Not long ago, in 2010s, Türkiye wanted to buy 2 (two in writing) armed Reaper UAVs from the USA to be used against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), but the demands were rejected from the Congress.
Mostly to the Greek lobby
Ten years later, while the Turkish company was exhibiting Akıncı UAVs which almost have the same capacity, the Greek Parliament approved the decision to purchase 9 Reapers from the USA for $400 million.
Türkiye owes not only to Turkish engineers and entrepreneurs for this picture, but also to the Greek lobby, which has been blocking arms sales in the US Congress for decades. You are right, not only the Greek lobby, but also the Armenian, Kurdish, and until the last softening period, the Israel lobby… As a matter of fact, among the signatories to the last letter are Chris Pappas and Dina Titus from the Greek-American Group in the Congress, as well as the Co-Chairs of the Greek-Armenian Group Guy Billirakis and Carolyn Maloney and Armenian Group Co-Chair Frank Pallone. But we should give the Greek lobby, which has shown the most perseverance in this regard, its due.
Because, for example, the Greek lobby had a role behind the arms embargo that the USA imposed on Türkiye in 1975, due to the 1974 Cyprus operation and the opium planting sanctions.
Suleyman Demirel, who was accused of being a pro-American politician in Türkiye, was the prime minister, and the first thing that “the old Türkiye” did was to close Incirlik Air Base to US flights.
This is how the defense industry breakthrough was born
The old Türkiye had made another decision: it would produce as much of its own weapon as possible. ASELSAN was founded to produce handheld talkies, even that was bought from the USA. Then, Havelsan was founded for air electronics, ROKETSAN for rocket production, and TUSAŞ (TAI) for aircraft construction projects. Private enterprises such as NUROL, OTOKAR not only met Türkiye’s armored vehicle needs, but also started exporting.
Although the frigate and submarine construction phase is just coming, fast boats and corvettes are designed, built and exported with domestic means. Their bodies are no longer imported, they are made of special alloy steel produced in Ereğli, this detail is important.
One more detail: The arms embargo, which Sweden and Finland agreed to lift in order to circumvent Türkiye’’s application for NATO membership, was put in place so that TB-2 UCAVs would not be used by Türkiye in attacks against PKK subsidiaries in Syria in 2019. The use of Roketsan rockets in Turkish-made UCAVs is also an important detail.
Bad neighbor makes one a homeowner
The Greek lobby did not play a role in the USA’s removal of Türkiye from the F-35 program. There, the share is of President Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to buy the S-400 from Russia and to some extent Israel, which sees the F-35s to be used by the Turks as a potential threat to itself.
The F-35 is still the only 5th generation fighter jet. However, the whole world has already started the 6th generation studies; The most important feature of the new generation will be their pilotless flight. The performance of Bayraktar TB-2s in Ukraine after Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan should be considered in this context. The aircraft (or rather amphibious assault) carrier, which Türkiye is about to build and put into service with Spanish technology, is designed to carry UAVs as well as helicopters.
If it were not for the efforts of some ethnic lobbies in the US Congress to prevent Türkiye, perhaps none of this would have happened, and Türkiye would have continued to buy weapons that the US found appropriate.
But confirming the proverb “Bad neighbors make one a homeowner”, the arms industry in Türkiye is developing a little more as Greek governments try to block Türkiye through the United States. In a sense, Türkiye partly owes its motivation to develop its arms industry to the Greek-American lobby.