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Fahrettin Ozturk and the rise of KAAN: A new era in Turkish aviation

Fahrettin Ozturk and the rise of KAAN: A new era in Turkish aviation
By Ahmet Erarslan
Jun 20, 2024 12:40 PM

Prof. Dr. Fahrettin Ozturk, Chairman of the Board of Directors at TUSAS Engine Industries (TEI) and Deputy General Manager of TUSAS, is pivotal in advancing Türkiye’s aerospace sector. Dedicated to production, hard work, and engineering education, he proudly asserts, “Above all, I am an academic and a teacher.”

On a fresh spring morning in Ankara, Kevser Erbay, Editor at Türkiye Gazetesi, met with Prof. Dr. Ozturk at the TUSAS factory. They discussed his passion for aviation and TUSAS’ vision and goals. Recognized as a leader in Türkiye’s aviation and defense industries, Ozturk’s career launched with his graduation from the Mechanical Engineering Department at Selcuk University in 1992, followed by master’s and doctoral studies in the United States. After returning to Türkiye, he pursued an academic career at Nigde University, enriching his knowledge and experience. Reflecting on his career, Ozturk says, “I am a mechanical engineer by training, with all my degrees in this field. I completed my master’s and Ph.D. in the United States. I am a professor academically and also teach at Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University.”

“I consider myself an academic, serving as a lecturer at the university. Upon my return to Türkiye, I began working at Nigde University, where my research focused on aviation and the automotive industries. I have provided consultancy for TUSAS and developed projects in the R&D department of an automotive company. Throughout my career, I have been deeply involved with the defense industry and aviation.”

Fahrettin Ozturk and the rise of KAAN: A new era in Turkish aviation

‘We are the TUSAS production team’

“I supervise master’s and doctoral students and maintain a demanding schedule as the chairman of TEI’s board. At TUSAS, I serve as the deputy general manager of the largest division, overseeing approximately five thousand personnel,” he adds. Emphasizing his team’s accomplishments, Ozturk points out, “We have handled the production of all the projects you see, including Kaan, Hurjet, and Hurkus aircrafts, Atak helicopters, and Anka and Aksungur unmanned aerial vehicles. Our team has played a crucial role in almost all of TUSAS’ projects. We are a strong and experienced team, and also the largest production team at TUSAS.”

Fahrettin Ozturk and the rise of KAAN: A new era in Turkish aviation

‘Kaan will fly with a local engine’

Addressing Türkiye’s reliance on foreign defense technologies, Ozturk notes: “Our dependency on foreign sources decreases every day. For instance, in the early 2000s, Türkiye had few defense products to offer globally. Today, however, we can count hundreds of indigenous products, marking significant progress.” Highlighting the Gokbey helicopter, Ozturk adds: “Consider the Gokbey. It is now almost entirely local, with its engine, gearbox, and body all domestically produced. This represents substantial progress.” He emphasized Türkiye’s major advancements in reducing foreign dependency and boosting domestic production capacity in the defense industry: “Our rate of localization and nationalization increases daily. Our reliance on foreign sources is rapidly declining. For example, the Kaan project currently uses an F-16 engine, but we aim to equip it with a local engine in the future. Presently, almost everything in Kaan, except the ejection seat and engine, is locally produced.”

Drones will adapt to war concepts

Prof. Ozturk also highlights the growing prominence of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): “I believe UAVs will become even more prevalent. With increased speeds, varied mission types, and higher altitude flights, they will play a crucial role in future combat scenarios. Türkiye is one of the world’s leaders in UAV development. Various companies, including TUSAS, are at the forefront of UAV production. We rank among the top 10 UAV-producing countries globally. The importance of UAVs will increase significantly in the future,” he said. “Watching Kaan brings tears to my eyes. Ozturk and his team have been on the ground since day one, from the first part to the last of Kaan,” Professor Fahrettin Ozturk speaks about Kaan with the excitement of a child.

“We also made Hurjet, which was a preliminary stage for this. Can you imagine, we made and flew Türkiye’s first jet aircraft, 100 years later. The first jet aircraft in Türkiye is made now. Previously, propeller aircraft were made, what we call a turboprop. In the early years of the Republic, in 1924, Vecihi Hurkus flew. Today, we have realized Türkiye’s dream.”

Last Updated:  Jun 20, 2024 12:51 PM