OYAK, which took its first step into the iron and steel industry with the acquisition of Erdemir in 2006, is one of the groups inspired by the development of the defense industry. After armor steel, OYAK management has also ventured into the production of submarine construction steel. OYAK General Manager Süleyman Savaş Erdem said, "We are fully committed to the demands of the domestic market and the Turkish defense industry. We will also make significant progress in exports."
The idea of building an indigenous warship, which had a chance to be implemented in Turkey, was put forward in 1996. Institutional administrations came together, ideas were discussed and evaluations were made. The resulting project was named the MİLGEM Project, derived from the words national and ship. As a result of the process carried out following the initial idea, with the decision of the Defense Industry Executive Committee, the design and construction activities for the 12 corvette-type 53 ships required by the Naval Forces began in 2000. The first ship (Heybeliada) within the scope of the MİLGEM Project, which was successfully carried out in cooperation with the Naval Forces Command and the Presidency of Defense Industries, was launched in 2008, and the second (Büyükada) in 2010. Then came the sequel. With the Heybeliada corvette, the first Turkish warship, Turkey became one of the 10 countries in the world capable of designing and building warships, and now has a say in warship exports. The national submarine project is now next. Following MİLGEM, the MİLDEN (National Submarine) Project has also begun construction activities. The MİLDEN Program will be carried out by the Gölcük Shipyard Command.
Following the New Type Submarine Project carried out jointly with Germany, Turkey aims to build its own national submarines under the MİLDEN Project. Within the scope of the New Type Submarine Project, the construction of six Type-214TN type Reis Class submarines is in full swing at Gölcük Shipyard Command. According to the statement made by the Ministry of National Defense, the construction of the 'Test Block' within the scope of the MİLDEN Project is planned to start in 2023, while the construction activities are planned to start in 2025. The first MİLDEN submarine is expected to be delivered to the Turkish Naval Forces Command before 2030.
Defense industry paves the way for companies
The website Türkiye Yüzyılı (The Century of Turkey), which introduces the reference projects of the Republic of Turkey, states that as of today, 70 percent of the materials, devices and systems used in the MİLGEM Project's shipbuilding and equipping have been supplied by the domestic industry. This rate has reached 80 percent on an item-by-item basis. We learn from the statement that while work was carried out with 212 companies for small-scale purchases, a total of 75 contracts were signed with private sector industrialists for the supply of services and materials, and 9,200 items of material were supplied. "The project aims to develop an indigenous Turkish warship capable of conducting anti-submarine warfare and offshore patrol missions," the statement reads.
We can see from the practices and the frameworks drawn that the success of vision projects initiated under the leadership of talented institutions paves the way for new investments. By providing an investment climate, they encourage entrepreneurs and lead to the formation of production basins.
It is a fact that the developments I have briefly mentioned above have inspired thousands of companies, large and small, as well as OYAK Group, which has successfully implemented the complementary occupational pension system in Turkey. Founded in 1961, OYAK made its first subsidiary investment in 1962 (Goodyear partnership), but it was the ERDEMİR acquisition in 2006 that introduced it to the iron and steel industry.
Since then, OYAK has made significant contributions to the national economy with ERDEMİR and has recently transferred its experience gained in the steel industry to investments in higher value-added products.
A vision project for Turkey
The acquisition of the majority shares of Miilux OY, a Finnish company specializing in heat treatment steel production, in February 2019 was an important move to put OYAK in a different position in this industry. Miilux High-Strength Steel Production Inc. (Miilux), whose 100 percent shareholder is Miilux OY, started operations on May 28, 2019 in Manisa OSB to produce heat treatment steels, with OYAK General Manager Süleyman Savaş Erdem emphasizing its strategic importance. The investment was a vision project for OYAK as well as for Turkey. The steels produced by Miilux OY, which aims to eliminate Turkey's foreign dependence in the field of high-strength heat treatment steel production, are used primarily in the defense industry, mining, construction machinery, construction, etc. sectors. According to the information provided by Süleyman Savaş Erdem, the fact that the use of domestic armor in an armored vehicle can increase the localization rate by approximately 8 to 10 percent reveals the importance of Miilux OY, an armor steel producer, in terms of increasing the localization rate of the defense industry and its independence.
Miilux OY, which has the capacity to meet all of its armor steel needs with its plant in Turkey, also draws strength from its ability to make reinforcements from other facilities when necessary. Miilux OY also produces armor steel and wear-resistant steel in its factories in Finland and Poland. The total annual production capacity of the Finnish plant, which has a team and machinery specialized in component production, and the Polish plant, which actively operates in the wear-resistant steel group used in the mining industry, is 24 thousand tons. Together with the Manisa plant, which produces armor steel with a capacity of 14 thousand tons, Miilux OY's total capacity reaches 38 thousand tons.
Turkey is one of the 5 countries that have a say in armor steel
Sweden, France, Finland and Australia come to mind when we think of armor steel in the world. These countries control the armor steel market. For more than 30 years, Turkey has repeatedly taken action to produce armor steel. It was OYAK Group that took a strategic decision to meet the demands of the Presidency of Defense Industries and producer companies in order to end foreign dependency. Thanks to Miilux OY's simulation center, which is unique in the world, a great gain was achieved by reducing the minimum 300 tons of bulk required to develop armor in the past to 300 kilograms. The product in question is used in a wide range of armored vehicles, from the Altay tank to all armored vehicles. Miilux OY aims to meet approximately 90 percent of Turkey's need for armor steel. Miilux OY is also working to produce submarine construction steel, which is considered the pinnacle of armor steel, with domestic facilities. The field tests of the products in HY-80, HY-100 and HY-130 grades, which Miilux OY aims to offer to the defense industry in the near future, are continuing successfully. Miilux OY will take another strategic step for the Turkish defense industry by producing submarine construction steel, which can only be produced by two countries in the world, with domestic facilities.
Armor steel and submarine steel, for which Miilux OY's visionary management and talented work teams are working meticulously, will not only meet the most basic needs of the Turkish defense industry, but will also enable the activation of an important export channel.