Interview: Ahmet Hamdi Atalay, General Manager & CEO of HAVELSAN – MSI Turkish Defence Review / MSI TDR Reference Magazine of Turkish Defence and Aviation Industry

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

7 Haziran 2017
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“At our stand, our visitors will see the product range of a global company.”


HAVELSAN is taking firm steps towards becoming a global company in different fields of activity, including simulation, combat management systems for naval platforms and cyber security solutions. We talked with Ahmet Hamdi Atalay, General Manager & CEO of HAVELSAN, about the company’s activities in 2016, the current status of the solutions they offer, and their goals for IDEF.


MSI TDR: Ahmet Bey, could you share with your thoughts about HAVELSAN’s current situation? How was 2016 for HAVELSAN, and what are your expectations for 2017?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: Nowadays, all across the world, the concept of security is being given priority above all else. In addition to the concept of security, many other concepts such as country, region, cyber, data and software have also become key for new, as well as evolving, industries. Taking this fact into consideration, we have continued our current projects in 2016, while also continuing our work and investments in the areas that will take us to the future and contribute to the achievement of Turkey’s 2023 targets. In the course of 2016, we focused on R&D investments that will provide country the technologies of the future. We turned towards and concentrated on fields such as big data management, image processing, internet of things, learning algorithms and artificial intelligence applications.

As for the use of indigenous and national solutions, we have shown our willingness and readiness to assume our share of responsibilities. In this context, we started working on the design and development of the National Enterprise Resource Management and National Database. In addition, as a part of our cooperation with TÜBİTAK, we worked on establishing Pardus, the National Operating System, across the country. Meanwhile, in line with our relevant strategies, we also worked on the City Security Management System and Health Informatics/Hospital Management Systems, which embody the future technologies of HAVELSAN.

In the upcoming period, we will, as an international brand, focus on R&D investments to prepare ourselves for the technologies of the future, and also concentrate on the business ecosystem, company acquisitions and exports to achieve growth. Furthermore, in our main areas of activity, we will continue to be the first address for Command Control and Combat Systems; a global brand in the field of Training and Simulation Technologies; Turkey’s leading provider of e-transformation technology in Management Information Systems; and a centre of excellence in Homeland and Cyber ​​Security Solutions.


MSI TDR: What is on HAVELSAN’s agenda for IDEF?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: In the field of Command Control and Combat Systems, we will be showcasing at our stand the combat management and data distribution systems we have designed and produced. These systems are being operationally used by the Turkish Armed Forces in seas around the world. We will also be displaying our integration capabilities, and real examples from our command control systems, to our visitors.

HAVELSAN has become one of the world’s leading brands in the field of Training and Simulation Technologies, and our products in this field will also be presented at our stand. At IDEF, HAVELSAN, will also be doing something for the first time: The T129 ATAK Helicopter Mission Training Simulator we produced for ATAK, the indigenous helicopter, will be showcased for the first time in this exhibition.

In the field of Management Information Systems, as one of the first companies to spring to mind when speaking of e-transformation, we will be giving presentations about the projects and capabilities we have implemented until now, as well as the ones we are currently implementing. From the City Security Management System – which will provide Turkey the ability to control activities from a single centre – to health informatics and face and vehicle identification systems, we will introduce our range of systems to visitors through live demonstrations.

In the field of Homeland and Cyber Security Solutions, we will make live demonstrations of our indigenous products at the Cyber Security section of our stand, to show that they provide real protection against real attacks in various scenarios.

In addition, Quantum3D, our US based company, will also be taking part in IDEF. We will demonstrate the capabilities and technologies of Quantum3D in a separate show area.

Of course, we also aim to have many local and foreign delegations visit our stand, and to conduct one-to-one talks during IDEF. Let me also inform you beforehand that there will be some memorandums of understanding and contracts on our agenda during the exhibition.


MSI TDR: HAVELSAN carries out a wide range of activities in cyber defence and security. In addition to the works conducted by the Cyber Defence Technology Centre (SİSATEM), you have also been continuously conducting other activities such as summer and winter schools, as well as sponsorships for conferences and seminars. Could you share with our readers the latest status of SİSATEM’s activities?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: As you may already know, we opened SİSATEM a year ago. And as you have also mentioned, we performed many activities following the opening of the centre. In the context of the summer and winter schools we organised, we conducted a thorough selection of successful students from all over Turkey, and provided them an intensive training programme on cyber security. We even employed some of the high achieving students who attended the cyber security training, therefore creating a new source of human resources for ourselves.

In the one year that has passed since its inauguration, our Cyber Security Operation Centre Service, as well as our training services, indigenous software and other services, have attracted significant interest. Today, HAVELSAN meets the cyber security needs of many public and private institutions through the remote monitoring method. In addition, within the scope of our Training Services, we provide training to many institutions – the names of which I cannot disclose for confidentiality reasons.

In the field of indigenous cyber security products, we have also made substantial progress compared with where the first started off. We have nine indigenously developed, and more importantly reliable, products that are now ready and have entered use.

To summarise, serving as a Centre of Excellence in Cyber ​​Security, SİSATEM continues its activities as a centre that follows technologies, provides security and training services for institutions, and develops indigenous and national products.


MSI TDR: Your product family of Combat Management Systems that started with GENESİS and continued with ADVENT is being successfully used in the ships of the Turkish Naval Forces. Could you please tell us about the latest situation regarding this product family of yours? Are there any new developments you can share with our readers concerning your export activities?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: The Combat Management Systems product family has made HAVELSAN a leading brand in this area. We have a product family that started with GENESİS project and is continuing with ADVENT. GENESİS is operationally used with great success in seas around the world. Approximately 40 surface and underwater platforms of the Turkish Naval Forces have been equipped with HAVELSAN-made software, combat systems and combat management systems, and these are fulfilling their tasks commendably. This number will further increase with the exports we have made in recent times and the additional projects that are planned in Turkey.

One of the most important signs that GENESİS has become a global brand is that a company which is also one of our competitors has actually recommended our system in the context of its sales to a third country.

GENESİS and ADVENT are not systems that are only comprised of software and hardware. They also embody the knowledge and experience, in other words the know-how, of the Turkish Naval Forces. That is why they are much more valuable than just a combination of software and hardware.

As you may know, we will be taking part in the project on the upgrading of Pakistan’s AGOSTA 90B submarine, in which STM is the prime contractor. Our Combat Management System will used in this project as well. Export of the MİLGEM ships is also being considered. Thus, our product family of Combat Management Systems will begin to be used worldwide.

Meanwhile, ADVENT represents the future of this product family. The ADVENT will offer network-assisted capabilities, which will enable any ship to use the sensors and weapons of another ship in the same fleet.


HAVELSAN: The Address for Simulators

MSI TDR: Could you tell us about the latest status with the Boeing 737-800 simulator you are developing for Turkish Airlines (THY)?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: HAVELSAN is one of the world’s top 10 simulation companies; in certain areas, it is even in the top five or three. Therefore, there is nothing more natural in Turkey than HAVELSAN being involved in any area or activity where simulators are used. With the Boeing 737 simulator it is producing for Turkish Airlines, HAVELSAN is now bringing the capabilities it gained in the field of military air platform simulators to the field of civil aviation.

To update you of the latest situation, I can say that we have completed the production phase for the THYSİM Boeing 737-800NG, our first product in the field of civilian simulators, and that it is now in the test phase. Following the completion of these tests, we will dismantle our simulator at the HAVELSAN facilities and send it to the new e-Learning Centre established by Turkish Airlines for installation. It was very important that we provide a simulator worthy of Turkish Airlines – the flag carrier of our country. Thanks to the experience and technical know-how we have gained from previous projects and the contributions of Turkish Airlines, we are now nearing the completion of this project. The Boeing 737 simulator is also important in that it is the first simulator for this model to use the aircraft manufacturers’ data packages. This simulator will allow Turkish Airlines pilots to receive training on an indigenously produced simulator for the first time. So we are excited about this.

We will not limit our work to the Boeing 737. The Airbus A320 is also a widely-used platform by airlines. About half of the single-aisle aircraft fleets of all airlines consist of this model. By using the experience we gained with the Boeing 737 simulator, we began producing the Airbus 320 simulator with our own resources, in order to improve our relations with Airbus, another important aircraft manufacturer, and to expand our product portfolio. We are working on this at full pace.


MSI TDR: Could you tell us about the current developments in your simulator projects, especially about the T129 ATAK simulator?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: The T129 ATAK simulator, ATAKSİM, is one of the projects we attach great importance to. The aim of this project is to develop a simulator to be used by our Land Forces Command in training pilots and technicians for the T129 ATAK helicopters. ATAKSİM is comprised of a Full Mission Simulator, a Partial Mission Simulator, a Weapon and Avionics System Trainer, a Computer Based Training System, a Virtual Maintenance Simulator and three debriefing systems. In the development of these products, we work together with nearly 20 solution partners including TAI and ASELSAN. We have reached a very high level of indigenisation in the ATAKSİM project. In this context, we develop aerodynamic and tactical environment software – which are the vital components of simulation – exclusively through indigenous capabilities.

In the project that started in January 2014, we have delivered our first product, the Weapons and Avionics System Trainer simulator, to our user. We will deliver the other components of the ATAKSİM in the coming months. Our goal is to complete the acceptance procedures of all of our products by April 2018.

We are also in talks with TAI concerning the development of a simulator for the HÜRKUŞ.

Our vision is to use the simulators not only for user’s training, but also for engineering studies. Looking around the world, we see for example simulators being used starting from the design phase of aircraft, and that various subsystems, algorithms and manoeuvres are first tested on these simulators. Otherwise, when you follow the conventional cycle of design, production and testing, you may sometimes notice problems at a very late stage. Our simulation team has been working on air platforms for many years; they have considerable experience in this field, and we want to take advantage of this. In this regard, we are in agreement with TAI.


MSI TDR: With the acquisition of Quantum3D, HAVELSAN has become a player in the US market as well. During the past several months, you have had several initiatives to introduce HAVELSAN’s indigenous solutions to the US market via Quantum3D. What are your observations about these initiatives? At what stage are these activities?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: Undoubtedly, the joining of Quantum3D to our company has a positive effect in several ways. The main reason why we acquired Quantum 3D was our need for image generators – a technology which they had. We have completely indigenised that technology, so it is now one of our technologies. We restructured our system such that it would comply with the bidding requirements of the US government, and have passed their approval process. So we now can open up to the American market. Sometimes, we enter through Quantum3D the markets which we cannot access as Turkey. Quantum3D will also allow us to market our solutions in a wider geographical area, not only in the field of simulators but also in other functional areas, by facilitating HAVELSAN’s access to the markets with challenging regional and political conditions. In addition, it will also convey the developments in Silicon Valley to HAVELSAN in a timely manner.

With Quantum3D’s experience and background in the US, we are making deals with the world’s leading simulator companies through different business models. Rather than dealing in a competitive environment, we are negotiating with these companies on different collaboration models.


MSI TDR: Is there any other acquisition similar to Quantum 3D, either in Turkey or abroad, on the agenda for HAVELSAN in the near future?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: As part of its growth strategy, HAVELSAN is open to acquisitions and mergers. Of course, such decisions are reached based on a combination of many factors. For example, our acquisition of Quantum3D’s was somewhat a product of coincidence, and was performed under very favourable terms.

As a matter of principle, we are not planning to expand our current structure by increasing the number of our employees. We aim for inorganic growth. This can be achieved either by expanding our business ecosystem, or by partnering up with certain companies, acquiring some companies or establishing new ones. In this context, we are also looking for opportunities abroad. We have plans to establish either a joint venture company or our own company in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.


MSI TDR: In the fields of technology and innovation, you are organising various events such as the Serious Game Solutions Competition and Technology Panels. How will these activities contribute to the products delivered by HAVELSAN to end users?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: Feeding the potential for innovation and R&D with ideas originating from either within or outside the company is one of the issues we have laid emphasis on in recent times. We aim to transform these ideas into value-added outputs through innovation management.

In addition to the activities you have just mentioned, HAVELSAN gathers innovative ideas from its employees through Innovative Idea Campaigns and Innovation Contests, organised within the frame of an open innovation concept, and also from outisde via the Innovation Management Portal. We then evaluate these ideas, rewarding the ones we consider to be good.

There are two points we can describe as the common goal of all these activities. The first one is to encourage our human resources, such that they may better contribute to us in acquiring the technologies of the future. And the second one is to improve the technologies we have to make them more advanced. I can say that we are getting positive signals concerning both of these goals.


MSI TDR: In recent times, you have been involved in a series of quality-related activities. What kind of developments can we expect in this regard in the coming period?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: As you know, it is not possible to observe the quality-related developments, or the results of these developments, instantly and on a daily basis, as is the case in some other areas. Therefore, HAVELSAN aims to adopt Total Quality Management as a corporate philosophy, and is currently working to ensure this.

As a means to achieve this goal, we have taken the universally accepted EFQM (the European Foundation for Quality Management) Excellence Model as a reference, and are proceeding accordingly. HAVELSAN’s management target – based on the right leaders, the right strategies, the right resource management, and strong suppliers, as well as well-defined and continuously renewed processes – was combined with this model, setting us on a path, or journey, towards quality. We are the beginning of this path; hopefully, we will get positive results together.


MSI TDR: Is there anything you would like to add?

Ahmet Hamdi ATALAY: IDEF is a highly important exhibition that ranks among the top five defence exhibitions of the world. Our country is hosting this event, and we would like to make the best out of it. We would like to host our diverse customers and potential customers here, and show them all of our solutions. IDEF is a brand, and we aim to make the most of it. At our stand, our visitors will see the product range of a global company.


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


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