Turkish defense giant Aselsan is set to enter the health sector with plans to release its first medical devices later this year, a senior executive in the firm told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

Making use of its expertise and capabilities in the high-tech defense industry, the company seeks to field innovative solutions in health technologies as well.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency about Aselsan’s activities in the health sector, ​Vice President ​​​Ibrahim Bekar said the company wants to become Turkey’s flagship in the field of health.

With its experience in military defense systems from imaging technologies to microwaves, radar, electro-optics and power electronics, Aselsan intends to focus on three areas in the field of health: Imaging devices, diagnostics and monitoring systems, and life support technology.

“These constitute the main device portfolio in health,” noted Bekar, who oversees Aselsan’s activities in transportation, security, energy and automation, besides healthcare systems.

One specific area that the company has made progress is in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), with efforts to develop mass production of MRI scanners at their final stage.

“We’ve gotten images from our MR device […] We’re considering opening technology development centers abroad to be able to follow international developments in this field,” said Bekar.

Pointing out that the company had patented its own innovations on the MRI device, he said: “Since we couldn’t find a platform on which we could apply our innovative components, we decided to build our own,

“Although it looks like an ordinary MR from the outside, it’ll be an MR with the components we developed ourselves and will have no equal in the world. It will be much more pioneering.”

6,000 respirators in mass production

Aselsan has also been cooperating with Turkish biotech firm BIOSYS since 2018 for the development of a ventilator device to be used in hospital life-support systems, Bekar said.

He underlined that with the help of fellow defense technology company Baykar and major appliances producer Arcelik since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, mass production had begun of the ventilators, which are to be delivered to hospitals in a “very short time.”

Aselsan has gone on to produce 6,000 ventilators in line with incoming orders, added Bekar.

“There is serious demand in the world for the device,” he noted.

10-year tender

Aselsan stands ready to cover the Turkish Health Ministry’s decade-long needs for MRI, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) and digital X-ray devices, said Bekar.

For an upcoming tender, the ministry has envisaged an industrial cooperation project between a Turkish and foreign partner to indigenize the technology needed for such an endeavor.

“If the decision is made for an industrial cooperation project, this will accelerate our work. But, regardless of this, we’ve decided to become a medical device company,” he said.

The company has earmarked over $20 million to fund the efforts in health technologies so far, he noted, adding that a directorate had been established solely for activities in this field that employs more than 150 engineers and technical staff.

Aselsan is the largest defense company of Turkey and among the top 100 defense firms in the world.

*Written by Aysu Bicer

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