Middle East

Factbox: US sanctions target Turkish defense body

(Reuters) – The United States has imposed sanctions on Turkey for purchasing Russian defense systems, targeting Turkey’s top defense procurement and development body Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB), its chairman Ismail Demir and three other employees.

Here is some background on the SSB:

– As Turkey’s top body for defense project development and industrial participation, the SSB was responsible for more than 600 projects ranging from jet engine development to ammunition production as of end-2018.

– It is tasked with reducing foreign dependency on hard-to-procure critical products and technologies, increasing national industrial capabilities and expanding defense exports.

– Ismail Demir was appointed chairman in April 2014, having previously been general manager of Turkish Airlines’ maintenance and repair unit. He spent several years in the United States for graduate and doctoral studies.

– The defense body was established in its original form in 1985 under the umbrella of the Defence Ministry to set and implement policies for defense industry infrastructure.

– It was affiliated with the Turkish presidency under Tayyip Erdogan in December 2017 and renamed the SSB in July 2018, with the goal of developing a modern defense industry and modernizing the Turkish Armed Forces.

– The SSB is a shareholder in companies including SSTEK, a holding company for stakes in emerging defense companies, including a jet engine developer and aircraft contractor TUSAS. TUSAS produces fuselage parts for F-35 fighter jets, attack helicopters and drones as well as aircraft components for Boeing and Airbus.

– It is also a shareholder in the airport authority for Istanbul’s second airport Sabiha Gokcen, in defense contractor STM Savunma Teknolojileri and local testing and certification body TRtest.

– The SSB is designated to conclude purchase contracts, to reorganize and integrate the industry, encourage and direct new enterprises and explore the possibilities for foreign capital and technology contributions.

– It also sets procurement schedules and financing models and plans the production of required modern weapons and equipment by the private or public sector, as well as obtaining loans from domestic and overseas sources.

Reporting by Can Sezer and Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathan Spicer/Mark Heinrich and Timothy Heritage

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