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Türkiye hopes to serve friendly countries for aircraft retrofit, says defense minister

Türkiye wishes to carry out retrofit activities of friendly countries’ aircraft in its factory in the near future, the country’s defense chief said on Tuesday.

“We believe that in the coming period, the retrofit operations of friendly and allied countries’ aircraft will also be carried out in our factory, thus providing much more added value to the national economy,” National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said at the delivery ceremony of the fourth of A400M transport aircraft retrofitted in the central Kayseri province.

The 2nd Air Maintenance Factory Directorate in Kayseri is one of the four centers in the world performing retrofit activities for A400M aircraft, which Akar described as a “source of pride.”

“Our factory, which is the pride of our country and Kayseri, successfully continues its activities in the field of defense and aviation with its experience from its history, and makes great contributions to our defense industry and the country’s economy with its qualified personnel, opportunities, and capabilities,” he added.

The A400M retrofit contract was signed between Airbus, a major player in the aviation industry, and Türkiye’s state-run defense firm ASFAT at the 2nd Air Transport Main Base Command in Kayseri in 2019.

The retrofit activities, which could be described as reflected improvements for A400M aircraft led by user feedback and design modifications obtained from the first service day of the aircraft to the day the aircraft is taken into the capability upgrade program, started when the first aircraft was taken into the hangar in 2020.

Akar said the A400Ms, which are used widely – such as in evacuation and military operations and personnel and material transportation – intensively contributed to the efforts after the Feb. 6 earthquakes.

“With the retrofitting of such an important and large military transport aircraft in our factory, both the needs of the Turkish Armed Forces were met in a very short time and a significant amount of resources were kept in our country,” he said.

There are currently 10 A400M aircraft in the inventory of Türkiye.

Speaking at the same event, Simon Ward, the president of Airbus Türkiye, said that with the contributions of the General Directorate of Military Factories, ASFAT, Airbus, and the Kayseri team, the retrofit of the aircraft was completed in a “shorter time than planned, cheaper and with better quality.”

He added: “It is the success of the aviation atmosphere established in Kayseri with the foresighted investments and guidance of the MOD (Ministry of Defense), the qualified manpower of Military Factories Directorate and the 2nd Air Maintenance Factory, the effective contract management of ASFAT and the contributions of Airbus.”

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