ANKARA

Turkey’s strategic projects in the defense industry continue despite the novel coronavirus, according to a senior Turkish official.

Ismail Demir, head of Turkey’s Presidential Defense Industries Authority, said that companies operating in the field of defense displayed good examples of the use of multiple technologies in this period.

His remarks came during a video conference on defense industry in Turkey and the world during and post-coronavirus.

Mentioning Turkish defense giant Aselsan and its operations, Demir said that the company accelerated production of masks, diagnostic kits, and disinfectants.

“Our projects are ongoing,” he said, adding Turkey would not be expecting any slowdown due to the epidemic to be reflected in the year-end turnover targets to a great extent.

“It is quite possible to replace many traditional and classical exporting countries including China,” he added.

On F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, Demir said: “We are partners in the F-35 process.”

“Unilateral movements related to the partnership have no legal basis, nor are they reasonable,” he added.

Turkey’s acquisition of the advanced S-400 Russian air defense system prompted the US to remove Turkey from the F-35 program in July. The US argues the system could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the jet, and is incompatible with NATO systems.

Turkey, however, counters that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.

*Writing by Handan Kazanci

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