Interview: Ahmet Hamdi Atalay, General Manager & CEO of HAVELSAN

10 Eylül 2019
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You can read the interview published in the DSEI’19 Special Issue of MSI Turkish Defence Review here:

 

“We don’t build platforms; we add intelligence to them. ”

 

HAVELSAN continues to serve its international users not only through its products and solutions, but also its collaborations. At DSEI 2019, the company is looking to showcase the latest developments in its products and solutions, while also aiming to bolster its collaborations. We had the opportunity to learn more about HAVELSAN’s activities overseas from Ahmet Hamdi Atalay, General Manager and CEO of HAVELSAN.

 

DSEI to Develop Collaborations

MSI TDR: First and foremost, can you tell us about your targets concerning your participation at DSEI 2019?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: We are planning to invite VIP delegations from the land, air and naval forces of different countries to our stand and to brief them about our products and solutions. What we want to do is come together with global defence companies and those with which we already cooperate internationally, and to assess opportunities for further cooperation. By taking HAVELSAN’s recognition to even higher levels in Europe, we aim to increase our contacts with our current partners.

 

MSI TDR: Which of your solutions will stand out at DSEI 2019?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: The solutions that HAVELSAN will highlight during the DSEI exhibition will be showcased under three categories, being Command & Control and Combat Systems; Training and Simulation Technologies; and Homeland and Cyber Security Solutions.

As part of our Command & Control and Combat Systems, we will introduce our visitors to the DOOB (HARBİYE) Joint Command and Control System, the ATEŞKES Weapon Locator System and the KONUMBUL GPS protection system. Under the Training and Simulation Technologies category, we will showcase our Parachute Simulator, while in the Homeland and Cyber Security Solutions field, we will be demonstrating our solutions pertaining to the field of cybersecurity.

ADVENT is planned to be used in all command control systems that the Turkish Naval Forces will supply in the upcoming period.

ADVENT is planned to be used in all command control systems that the Turkish Naval Forces will supply in the upcoming period.

 

MSI TDR: What features make HAVELSAN’s solutions stand out in the foreign markets?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: As HAVELSAN, there is a motto we commonly use: “We don’t build platforms; we add intelligence to them. ” Defence platforms may be integrated with a plethora of weapons and sensors; however, these platforms are only as intelligent and combat-effective as the command and control systems that they are equipped with. Command and control systems bring the intelligence to the nexus point between weapons and sensors, integrating them with one another and enabling them to act as a combat system. We, as Turkey’s largest software development centre, provide this intelligence through the software we develop, and the niche hardware on which these software run. You can find HAVELSAN’s signature on nearly 50 surface and submarine platforms of the Turkish Armed Forces, as well as on such air platforms as the Peace Eagle AEW or Maritime Reconnaissance, Patrol and Observation aircraft; on land, naval and air information management systems; and on many air, land and submarine simulators.

In parallel to the current changes in the nature of the battlefield and the technological advances we have witnessed, defence systems have become very complex. This, in turn, has expanded training requirements. We work with full awareness that training is the most important peacetime activity of our security forces. In line with the Turkish Armed Forces’ training hierarchy, which extends from individual training to strategic-level training, we provide trainees with the necessary integrated simulation and training solutions that allow them to experience every aspect and function of the battlefield. The wide range of simulators and training technologies we have produced at HAVELSAN are exact reflections of real weapons and vehicle platforms.

The high-tech products we have been providing for years to the Turkish Armed Forces are also boosting HAVELSAN’s international reputation.

In foreign markets, and especially the armed forces of friendly and allied countries, we supply systems developed to the highest standards using modular and state-of-the-art technologies. In doing so, we also open our technology to these countries in line with inter-governmental agreements and permits. This provides both parties with the opportunity to benefit from the markets they can access. Moreover, all user states can benefit from the advantage of having systems maintained by a very broad ecosystem, and supported by a common logistics system throughout their lifecycle.

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HAVELSAN also develops simulators for aircraft like Boeing 737-800NG

 

MSI TDR: How is HAVELSAN conducting its business development and sales efforts outside Turkey?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: Our business development and sales activities abroad are increasing with each passing year. We have modified the administrative organisational structure of our company, changing the title of “Vice President of Operations” to “Vice President of Operations and International Business Development”. We have also created a new Directorate of International Business Development under this Vice Presidency that incorporates Coordination Offices as well as regional/country managers. We have accelerated our efforts to open offices in countries with which we cooperate and in which we have a high current or potential business volume.

The regions and countries in which we prioritise our business development efforts are selected according to the international collaborations and policies that impact the sector, as well as other criteria that affect trade. Based on these assessments, we assign personnel to the regions and countries of highest importance. We also maintain constantly open communication channels with the relevant authorities of the countries in which we are engaged in active business development efforts. We continue relentlessly in our efforts to reach decision-makers, the actors that influence them and the users to inform them of our products and solutions. As part of these communication activities, whose primary purpose is to increase recognition and awareness, we also make an analysis of requirements, which  enables us to offer tailor-made solutions. The combination of the flexibility provided by HAVELSAN’s expert workforce, our high integration capabilities and our awareness of our target customer’s requirements allows us to offer solutions that are fine-tuned to specific needs. This makes us unique, and gives us a significant advantage in the field. In the transfer of these capabilities, we endeavour to cooperate as much as possible with local authorities and private enterprises in our target markets, since our goal is not merely to make a one-time sale. Part of our strategy is to contribute to the target countries through collaborations, as this allows us to maintain a lasting presence.

We believe that these activities will gain significant momentum with the visits that will be made by our President, our Minister of National Defence and our Minister of Foreign Affairs to brotherly countries in the target markets, and with the high-level visits that will be performed by the said countries to Turkey.

Maritime Patrol Aircraft are needed by the Naval Forces and Coast Guard Commands of every country, and HAVELSAN has proven solutions and a ready-to-use Command and Control Software in this field.

Maritime Patrol Aircraft are needed by the Naval Forces and Coast Guard Commands of every country, and HAVELSAN has proven solutions and a ready-to-use Command and Control Software in this field.

 

MSI TDR: Are there any examples of such activities to date that you would like to share?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: For example, our office in Muscat, Oman, opened for business on July 25, 2018. Following promotional activities, during which we came into contact with various customers, we have submitted offers with a total value of approximately $170 million in procurement tenders for defence, security, simulator and information systems. We believe that these tenders will come to a successful conclusion at the end of 2019 and in the first quarter of 2020. Our Oman office also allows us to keep track of business development activities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We had a significant participation at the NAVDEX exhibition held in Abu Dhabi on February 17–21, and at the GISEC19 exhibition held in Dubai on 1–3 April. We also signed cooperation agreements and memorandums of understanding with both Oman and UAE. This year, we want to show that our presence in Oman is long-lasting by establishing a company named “HAVELSAN Technology Oman” in Muscat. With this new move, we aim to follow a procurement approach that is based on technology transfer, and to thereby gain a competitive advantage.

After winning the strategic C4I System tender of the Oman Ministry of Defence in 2016 by competing with leading global companies and successfully delivering the system to the end user, we have also taken part in tenders and system procurement projects launched by such important customers as the Royal Guard of Oman, the Royal Omani Police and Muscat Municipality. By providing courses and training to a significant number of personnel from the Oman Ministry of Defence on the use and maintenance of the C4I system, we have given them the opportunity to experience directly the corporate culture of HAVELSAN, in which customer satisfaction is at the forefront. We have made significant progress in rendering the use of our C4I solution more widespread at both the tactical and operational levels. In this regard, I want to point out that we are in a very efficient and close cooperation with FNSS, and that we have attained a very good level of synergy together with them. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the FNSS managers and project team for this. We also believe that we will reap the fruits our labours aimed at expanding this system and acquiring additional capabilities at the beginning of 2020.

 

MSI_3573 - C - MSI DergisiAdding Value to Platforms

MSI TDR: A significant proportion of your products become relevant when used in conjunction with the platforms, which is certainly the case for your combat management systems and your simulator solutions, for example. In this context, how do you contribute to the export and foreign collaborative activities of the platform manufacturers?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: It is not possible for air and land platform manufacturers and for naval platform builders to make a successful design without taking into account the Command and Control System and the components that make up the platform’s combat payload. If we consider each combat platform as whole, made up of different systems, a design cannot be viewed as successful if there is even a single system that is not compatible with the overall platform. As you may also know, the ADA (MİLGEM) class corvettes are a source of pride for our nation owing to their capabilities and performance in real operation environments. One of the main systems driving the success of these ships is undoubtedly the HAVELSAN developed and integrated Command and Control System. The configuration of the MİLGEM corvettes, for which ASFAT A.Ş. signed a construction contract with the Pakistan Navy last year, includes also the Command Control System and Ship Information Distribution System developed and integrated by HAVELSAN. Based on all this, I can say that we have provided considerable added value to the export and overseas collaborative efforts of our platform manufacturers, and that we have substantially enhanced their business potential.

As part of our relations with platform manufacturers, we are also aiming provide, at the time of the delivery of the platform to the user, training services for the platform simulator. We have already achieved this with the ATAK helicopter simulator and the submarine simulator. At the same time, we are continuing our activities for the simulators of platforms such as HÜRKUŞ and GÖKBEY.

 

GÖKBEY’s simulator will also be developed by HAVELSAN

GÖKBEY’s simulator will also be developed by HAVELSAN

 

MSI TDR: What are you doing to market these products independently from the platform manufacturers?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: We carry out the marketing of our systems independently of platform manufacturers by communicating directly with the procurement authority, which is the end user. As such, for platforms that will soon be manufactured or constructed, we explain to the procurement authorities the capabilities of our systems and products, highlighting what makes them superior to their rivals. Sometimes we adapt our systems and products in line with the requirements communicated to us by the procurement authority, and ensure that they are included in the platform configuration by the procurement authority.

The capabilities of combat platforms are intricately linked to how technologically advanced their systems are. For this reason, almost all military platforms are subjected to a mid-life modernisation after around 15–20 years of service. In this context, for platforms that will undergo mid-life modernisation, we directly contact the procurement authority to discuss which of our systems and products will be needed, engaging in marketing activities to ensure that they are included in the configuration.

 

MSI TDR: Looking from a broader perspective, do you see HAVELSAN’s future with regards to overseas activities more in joint activities to be conducted with platform manufacturers, or more in independent activities on your own?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: I always view our joint activities with platform manufacturers as being important. We have many years of experience as well as strong collaborations in this area, and have taken part in many successful projects to date. One example I can give in this regard is the joint work we carry out with FNSS, and our works concerning the use of the DOOB C4I System on tactical armoured vehicles. We are also closely cooperating with Yonca-Onuk Shipyard in both Qatar and Oman.  We are continuing to work together on the integration of our Mini Combat Management System (CMS) solution on some of the boats that will be delivered.

Looking at the example of our cooperation with FNSS in Oman, we see that overseas cooperation with platform manufacturers enables us to reach end users with high value-added platform solutions. Taking this into account, it would be fair to say that acting together in foreign markets is a priority both for platform manufacturers and for HAVELSAN. The main issue we encounter in markets overseas, however, is that, to gain an advantage over our competitors that have been in these countries for 50–60 years, we first need to increase our recognition, to conduct high level visits and to position ourselves in the right place within the market. In this respect, I should emphasise that, in addition to cooperation with platform manufacturers, focusing on potential customers is also important.

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Products that Make a Difference

MSI TDR: HAVELSAN boasts a large product family. Which three products do you expect will attract the most attention and demand overseas in the coming period? For each one of these products, can you list the features that make them superior to their rivals?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: HAVELSAN is engaged in production in many different areas with state-of-the-art technologies, and has amassed a significant product range. For this reason, it is difficult to limit HAVELSAN to three products in this regard. We have certain products that we believe will be of high in demand in foreign markets. One such product, however, would be our ADVENT naval combat management system, which we developed together with Naval Forces Command and Research Centre Command to counter the threats of 21st century naval battles. Another product is HARBİYE DOOB, which can be used at strategic, tactical and operational levels. We believe that our skills in civil aviation simulators, as an area of intense competition, also grants us an important potential market.

Maritime Patrol Aircraft are needed by the Naval Forces and Coast Guard Commands of every country, and HAVELSAN has proven solutions and a ready-to-use Command and Control Software in this field. Through our solutions, we have ensured that Turkey is streets ahead of many countries in this area. The Hezarfen Parachute Simulator is one of our most popular products in the international markets, being a cost-effective solution that can aid in the education of users and trainees on demand in a reproducible and safe environment, thereby increasing the level of planning and mission-readiness. One of our principal advantages is our status as one of the few companies around the world that works in this field.

Developed by HAVELSAN and used to great effect by the Air Force Command, the Air Force Information System (HvBS) stands out as one of our most significant success stories, and the system has gained great popularity in foreign markets.

Our cybersecurity software and products; our ILETEE secure mobile communications platform; and our simulation and training solutions specific to such skills as parachuting, shooting and sniping, all of which reduce training costs while increasing effectiveness… All of these can be listed among the products that will assume an important role in how HAVELSAN positions itself in the markets abroad.

 

MSI TDR: Can you tell us about your short- and medium-term goals regarding these products?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: We think that the ADVENT, our network-assisted combat management system, will soon be in high demand. Enabling the utilisation of sensors and weapons from various naval platforms as a single unit, ADVENT offers great advantages at a tactical level.

Our HARBİYE DOOB product, which can be used at strategic, tactical and operational levels, comes to the fore with its current references and competitive features. Our main goal for the Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) is to come up with a ready-made product in collaboration with the manufacturers of multi-purpose platforms around the world. Concerning our Hezarfen Parachute Simulator, our goal is to first contact as many countries as possible to introduce our solution, and to then to start making sales. Our plan for all HAVELSAN products and solutions is to first generate a level of awareness and recognition of our products, solutions and capabilities in all of our target regions, and then to ensure that at least one of our solutions is used in the field.

The Combat Information Management System (CMIS) we supplied to the Pakistan Air Force is today at the heart of this force’s management system. We have also started transferring technology to the Pakistan Air Force in this area, and have created a management system that is currently being used to great effect, leading the users to voice great satisfaction in our products. Following our development efforts with Pakistan, the system is currently seeing active use in the field. It cannot be ignored that this system will grant us significant advantages in future projects and collaborations with the Pakistan Air Force.

In recent months, we have also signed an important cybersecurity agreement with Qatar. When it comes to the field of cybersecurity, HAVELSAN is in possession of high-quality products that are fully able to compete against the world-leading brands. In 2018, we started R&D project in 5G core network with a budget of approximately 10 million dollars. In addition to the approximately 7 million dollars investment we have made in cyber security so far, we invest approximately 3 million dollars to cyber products development each year. I believe that in the coming period, these products will also see greater use abroad.

 

MSI_3493 - C - MSI DergisiMSI TDR: Are you planning to apply the same programmes abroad that you have implemented in Turkey, such as the business ecosystem and supplier collaboration development programmes?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: I want to begin by saying that the answer to your question is a clear “Yes”, and we have even started making plans in this regard. As a regional company with more than 500 business partners, around 1,000 suppliers and a global workforce of 5,000, we are the leading company in our areas of activity. One advantage we have is that we are able to reach all types of information, from A to Z, concerning the companies registered in our business ecosystem. We are active over a broad geographical region, stretching from the Asia Pacific to North Africa, and from the Turkic Republics to Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Utilising our core technologies and products, as well as the resources of our qualified partner companies and subsidiaries, we are working to build win-win partnerships with friendly and allied countries. One of the examples I can give in this regard is the cooperation agreement we have signed with the Jaidah Group, one of Qatar’s leading international companies, for the development of a cybersecurity solution that will operate in the energy, telecommunication, automotive and security fields. Under the agreement, HAVELSAN will first establish a cybersecurity centre in Qatar for the Jaidah Group, giving it access to the cybersecurity platform developed by HAVELSAN. In line with the agreement, through which Jaidah Group will benefit from transfer technology from HAVELSAN, the parties will cooperate with universities in Qatar to localise HAVELSAN’s solutions. At LIMA19, on the other hand, HAVELSAN signed memorandums of understanding with the Technology Depository Agency, System Consultancy Services, AR Eastern, Silent Step and BIT Group.

Companies that compete on a global scale must today work with local partners if they are to enter the local markets, and with global partners to complement their capabilities. Through all of these activities, we have started to develop a qualified foreign business partner database.

 

HAVELSAN developed ATAK helicopter’s simulator

HAVELSAN developed ATAK helicopter’s simulator

 

MSI TDR: Is there anything else you would like to mention?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: In this year’s Informatics Top 500 list, which was compiled based on turnovers for 2018, we came first in five different categories, including the IT Company with the Best Performance over the Past 3 Years, Defence Sector Software, Sectoral Software, Security Software and Outsource Services. Given this picture, HAVELSAN is maybe not a company that develops hardware, but as a system integrator company with expertise in building sensor networks and systems. We develop turnkey solutions in many areas, such as border security, physical security, critical infrastructure security, and protection against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats. These solutions have potential applications in many fields, such as in smart cities, smart campuses and smart stadiums. Our approach can be summarised as follows: With regards to hardware, we cooperate with the companies in our ecosystem. All of the hardware components we use in the physical layer of our systems are developed with or supplied by the companies in our ecosystem. There are numerous sensors used in the field, and data from these sensors is collected in a pool that we refer to as the link layer. So they basically communicate with one another, in an environment that you can call a cloud. The data in the pool is then presented as information through the application software we have developed that carries out such functions as transforming the data into a visual form, reporting on the data, or sending it to other units, for example.

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The Hezarfen Parachute Simulator is one of our most popular products in the international markets, being a cost-effective solution that can aid in the education of users and trainees on demand in a reproducible and safe environment, thereby increasing the level of planning and mission-readiness.

 

To give a brief description, a system can be considered to consist of three main layers, which are the hardware in the physical layer; the link layer; and the applications and services that we call the software layer. HAVELSAN is mainly involved in the software layer, developing applications, software and services. It uses and processes the large data that is sourced from the hardware, and carries out reporting and visualisation functions. For example, there are various sensors involved in the smart health app. Heart rate information is collected, and this information is transferred to the pool via a data link. The data is then analysed by a developed application software and sent to the doctor. When a problem is identified, the patient is informed via a message and asked to come to the hospital. It is possible to increase the number and variety of such applications. Since HAVELSAN develops software, it also ensures hardware integration, and also develops end-to-end cybersecurity solutions. It manages the network by developing cyber security solutions that connect the physical layer to the link and application layers. The data from the sensors is then processed by specific algorithms which then take a decision and activate the systems.

 

On behalf of our readers, we would like to thank Ahmet Hamdi Atalay, General Manager and CEO of HAVELSAN, for taking the time to answer our questions and for providing us with such valuable information.

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