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UK wants to build submarines with Turkey, says Erdogan

Source tells MEE that British government is interested in joint production of unmanned submarines with Ankara
Reis class submarine project TCG Hizir Reis is still under construction (Turkish Defense Ministry)
By Ragip Soylu in Istanbul, Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the United Kingdom would like to work with Turkey to build submarines. 

"Today, Turkey's shipyards are those that have captured a certain place in the world maritime race," Erdogan said, addressing a group of youth in Istanbul.

"Those who come from America or Pakistan to build frigates for us, and those who say, ‘Can we build such an aircraft carrier in Turkey, can we build a submarine?’ At the moment, the UK wants to cooperate with us on the construction of submarines." 

In addition to having close defence relations due to their Nato partnership, Turkey and the UK also enjoy an industrial cooperation. UK engine maker Rolls-Royce and its local partner Kale are expected to supply an engine for Ankara's first home-built fighter jet, the TF-X.

The UK-based BAE Systems is also collaborating closely with Turkish Aerospace Industries in the development of the jet, including its stealth technology. 

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The United Kingdom completely lifted all of its restrictions on the export of defence products to Turkey last May. Restrictions had been brought in following Ankara's 2019 offensive in northeast Syria

Erdogan said that Turkey was accelerating its development of its shipyards and naval industry, and coming to the point of producing unmanned submarines. 

One source familiar with the issue told Middle East Eye that the UK was interested in joint-production of unmanned submarines with Turkey. 

Ismail Demir, the head of Turkey’s defence procurement agency SSB, told the press earlier this year that Ankara was in the project phase to develop unmanned submarines, but he declined to elaborate. 

Turkey is already running a very ambitious naval development plan that includes light aircraft carriers such as TCG Anadolu, national warship programme (Milgem),  Reis Class Submarine Project (Type-214TN) and national submarine project (Milden). 

Turkey held talks with the UK over the possible sale of a large package of weapons, including fighter jets, transport planes, engines and frigates earlier this year.

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