ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The United States is poised to impose sanctions on Turkey for purchasing Russian defence systems, according to sources who said they would target the Turkish Defence Industries Directorate (SSB) and its head, Ismail Demir.
Here is some background on the SSB:
- As Turkey’s top body for defence 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 defence 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 defence body was established in its original form in 1985 under the umbrella of the Defence Ministry to set and implement policies for defence 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 defence industry and modernising the Turkish Armed Forces.
- The SSB is a shareholder in companies including SSTEK, a holding company for stakes in emerging defence 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 defence 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
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