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This year the Turkish defence company FNSS celebrates its 30th anniversary.
ESD had the opportunity to talk to Kadir Nail Kurt, General Manager and CEO.

ESD: First of all, congratulations on the 30th anniversary of your company. Please highlight the journey of FNSS and its successful evolution of projects over the last 30 years.
Kurt: We celebrate our 30th anniversary as ‘a world renowned and respected Turkish defence company’. Starting with the contract for our point programme of Armoured Combat Vehicles (ACV) production, we evolved into a global company that creates value by designing, developing and delivering tailored made solutions. The KAPLAN family of vehicles pushed the Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) class into the 21st Century. The PARS family of vehicles has become a point of reference for tactical wheeled armoured vehicles. We designed and developed highly specialised platforms like the Marine Assault Vehicle (MAV), the OTTER Rapid Deployable Amphibious Wet Gap Crossing System and the Armoured Amphibious Combat Earthmover (AACE). Our modernisation solutions such as the M113A4 are unique, and our turrets like the SABER and TEBER serve to considerably increase combat effectiveness.

We deliver innovative solutions with a team of over 1,000 competent and dynamic employees. With the Alpha Leadership Academy Programme, we have started training the leaders of defence industry.

We have delivered over 4,000 combat platforms from the 15 tonnes class of tracked armoured vehicles to medium weight class tank and 4×4 and 8×8 tactical wheeled armoured vehicles; from combat engineering vehicles to modernisation and sustainment solutions for aged armoured vehicles, to our users in different countries. In 30 years, we have proven that we are a successful and trusted supplier and business partner, with every programme we have delivered.

In summary, over the course of 30 years, FNSS has evolved from a single product, single customer and single location company to a multi-product, multi-customer and multi-location company.

The remote-controlled SHADOW RIDER system

ESD: Maintaining sustainability in the highly competitive armoured vehicle market is difficult. What can you tell us about FNSS’s export activities and ongoing international programmes?
Kurt: We have ongoing projects for both tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles in the Middle and Far East. These are the most important export markets for us. So far, we have exported complete vehicle systems to seven countries, and subsystems, parts, and services to many more countries. The volume of our export projects to date has exceeded US$2.6Bn. We have generated almost all of our revenues from exports for many years now. Approximately 80% of our turnover in 2018 consisted of export sales.

We are working on the projects in Sultanate of Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Indonesia. We provided an effective solution to the Royal Saudi Armed Forces on the modernisation of M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers. More than 1,000 M113s in various configurations have been modernised to M113A4 level since 2004. On the other hand, the 120mm mortar integration project continues without a problem.

We delivered 160 vehicles for the Malaysia AV-8 GEMPITA project, which includes the development, production, and delivery of 257 8×8 Wheeled Armoured Vehicles in 12 configurations. The design process for 11 configurations has been completed. Nine different configurations have already entered the service and the other two configurations will be added to the inventory this year. These vehicle configurations include: the Infantry Fighting Vehicle equipped with the FNSS 25mm Sharpshooter Turret; the Armoured Fighting Vehicle equipped with the LCT 30 two-man turret manufactured by Denel Land Systems with a GI30 30mm gun and a 7.62mm coaxial Machine Gun; the Armoured

Reconnaissance/Surveillance Vehicle; Armoured Command Vehicle; Armoured Personnel Carrier equipped with a 12.7mm remote-controlled weapon station; Armoured Ambulance; Armoured Repair Vehicle (ARV); 120 mm Armoured Mortar Carrier (AMC); and Armoured CBRN Reconnaissance Vehicle (AENBCRV).

The PARS III 6×6 and 8×8 vehicles are being manufactured in 13 different configurations as part of the the project for the Sultanate of Oman. The production and delivery of these vehicles are successfully continuing according to the project schedule. More than 60 vehicles have been delivered up to now, and this number will exceed 100 by the end of the year. These vehicle configurations include: the Reconnaissance and Command vehicle with the FNSS 25mm SABER turret; 120mm Mortar Carrier; Armoured Engineering Vehicle; Armoured Recovery Vehicle; Armoured Ambulance; and Armoured Personnel Carriers.

We signed a preliminary agreement with PT-Pindad, our business partner in Indonesia, at IDEF 2019 for the joint serial production of KAPLAN Medium Weight Tanks. The development process of the KAPLAN-MT has been completed successfully within the framework of a joint development project.. We also continue our business development activities in other regions where we see potential such as in Latin America.

FNSS has been investing heavily in the development of UGVs such as the SHADOW RIDER.

ESD: At IDEF 2019 in Istanbul, you exhibited various highly innovative armoured vehicles. However, I would like to limit myself to one product: the SHADOW RIDER. It is an armoured tracked v is steered by a remote control system. How do you assess the development and importance of remote control systems into autonomous systems for armoured vehicles in the future and where do you want FNSS to position itself here?
Kurt: FNSS is a company that allocates considerable resources to research and development within the sector. In doing so, our primary goal is to expand the technology base of the sector, and the SHADOW RIDER stands as an important reflection of this strategy. There are two major benefits of developing remote control systems for armoured vehicles. First, it gives the opportunity to bring end-of-lifetime vehicles in the inventory back into the field again for multiple logistics supported purposes. Second, it is the first mandatory step to developing autonomous systems for armoured vehicles. In the mid-term, we are preparing ourselves to develop and introduce many different types of unmanned land vehicles, and have already launched important works in this regard.

ESD: FNSS will be exhibiting at the DSEI in London this September. What are FNSS’s aims in London?
Kurt: This will be the first time FNSS will be exhibiting a vehicle in DSEI London. FNSS’s previous experiences in attending international shows have proven highly beneficial in strengthening our relationship with officials and end users, especially in regions where FNSS was awarded contracts such as in South-East Asia. The decision to participate runs parallel to FNSS’s vision of being a global partner in defence. Therefore, using opportunities to showcase our capabilities to a broader audience and further expanding our communications with customers will always be a major motivation.

ESD: Wheredo you see FNSS in 30 years from now?
Kurt: I see FNSS as ‘the’ Turkish defence company in the world. We shall continue to design and develop future’s vehicle concepts, shaping our product portfolio and technology roadmap in line with these developments by considering the benefits of all the stakeholders and adding value by providing sustainable solutions.

We shall advance further with every project we implement. Today, we deliver innovative solutions to our customers through the entire product lifecycle. Alpha Leadership Academy, we already have started training the leaders of tomorrow, who will be carrying the legacy of the past 30 years into the next 30. FNSS has always been in the service of those protecting the homeland, and will continue doing so into the next 30 years.

The interview was conducted by Korhan Özkilinc.