Unusual situations are resolved with unusual strategies


The year 2020, which was very difficult for all sectors in Turkey and the world, also provided many opportunities for proactive and innovative approaches.

The Covid-19 virus, which first appeared in Wuhan, China in December 2019, began to spread rapidly around the world, and finally, the first positive case in Turkey was detected in March 2020. This unpredictable series of events that took place in the first quarter of the year would change the defence industry and the way of doing business in this critical sector, as well as all humanity. Before moving on to why and how the pandemic has changed the present and the way of doing business, it is important to go back a little and determine the latest situation.

While Turkey's defence and aerospace industry exports were 2 billion 188 million 550 thousand dollars in 2018, it increased 40.21 per cent in 2019 to 3 billion 68 million dollars and continued its increasing momentum at the beginning of 2020. According to the data of the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM); Total exports by the Turkish defence and aerospace industry in January 2020 amounted to 166 million 936 thousand dollars, and in February 181 million 761 thousand dollars. Exports made between January 1 and February 29, 2020, the last statistics before the first diagnosis of COVID-19 in Turkey, increased by 5% compared to the same period of the previous year and amounted to 348 million 697 thousand dollars.

However, the positive momentum in export figures slowed down and even came to a halt in March. Of course, the reason for this was the start of the quarantine period with the epidemic that affected the whole world since March. According to the data in February, the export amount, which is expected to be approximately 2.1 billion dollars for 2020, was realized as 1 billion 521 million 396 thousand US dollars in total during the first 9 months of 2020, one-third of the expectation, according to TİM data. It was only in September that the defence exports, which experienced a decline in Turkey as well as in the rest of the world, would return to their former state due to Covid-19. Moreover, the total exports realized by the sector during September 2020 increased by 80% compared to the same period of the previous year and reached 281 million 582 thousand US dollars.

As witnessed, sectors and sector actors that were not ready for this unexpected change and could not realize digital transformation during the period from March to September were adversely affected by this. Many major defence industry projects in the world have been disrupted. Resources were reorganized and directed to issues that could pose a risk in their supply. Measures have been found to fend off the blow of the Covid-19 pandemic. Companies that did not delay in taking precautions accelerated their digital transformation, especially with the closure of borders and the restriction of face-to-face activities. The use of digital platforms has increased and has become a part of corporate governance. While the virtual world was a choice in the marketing strategy, it became the most important item. Defence industry fairs, which brought together the sector stakeholders with their contribution to exports, were the areas most affected by the epidemic. The entry into force of the curfews and the cancellation of events one by one by the states caused the fairs to be postponed or cancelled with indefinite dates.


Unusual situations are resolved with unusual strategies

The companies' refusal to participate in the international defence industry fairs planned in 2020, as well as the indefinite postponements or cancellations implemented by the governments due to health and social security, made it necessary to consider new approaches at the fairs. Undoubtedly, at this point, companies that foresee such force majeure and offer proactive solutions with strategic decisions have taken a few steps ahead. SAHA EXPO, one of these solutions and designed by SAHA Istanbul as the world's first virtual defence industry fair, is a game-changer in many respects.

SAHA EXPO Defense, Aviation and Space Industry Fair, which was planned to be held for the second time by SAHA Istanbul on 04-07 November 2020, was postponed to 10-13 November 2021 due to the circular of the Ministry of Interior and the progress of pandemic conditions. However, SAHA Istanbul had a plan to bring a "virtual fair" concept to the understanding of defence industry fairs, even before the coronavirus and epidemic were still around. As a result, the SAHA EXPO Virtual Fair process accelerated by overlapping the conditions and strategies. In this process, SAHA EXPO, with the slogan of the world's first virtual defence industry fair, to be held between 09 November 2020 - 09 April 2021, in coordination with the physical fair, which was postponed to a future date due to restrictions, was realized with the XperExpo application designed by BITES, a member of SAHA Istanbul and a subsidiary of ASELSAN. Aiming to provide a real fair experience to its visitors by examining the activities carried out in physical fairs and examples from the world during the design process, SAHA EXPO set out with the aim of becoming a global brand. The virtual fair application was further developed in line with the demands from the participants and the new needs that emerged.


SAHA EXPO, which is completely virtual, has become an important meeting point as it does not endanger the health of its participants while the COVID-19 epidemic measures continue.

306 participants, including the world-renowned companies of the Turkish defence industry, ASELSAN, TUSAŞ, ROKETSAN, BAYKAR, BMC, HAVELSAN, STM, MKEK, ASFAT, TAIS, FNSS, Koç Information and Defense Technologies and Kale Group, exhibited their products at SAHA EXPO. exhibits.

Products that are reflected directly to industry professionals and visitors from around the world and Turkey, 24/7, with 3D modelling and interactive animations, are at SAHA EXPO in their most realistic form. 102 companies exhibit their 536 products in 3D at the fair. SAHA EXPO also provides opportunities for important business meetings. Participants; can send free and unlimited e-invitations to potential customers all over the world. They can enable the people they invite to see the 3D products in their stands, review their catalogues, watch product promotion videos, and hold online meetings with them. In this context, SAHA EXPO seems to have succeeded in bringing the power of the Turkish defence industry to the virtual world.

In this process, the participating companies held or planned 22,649 B2B business meetings with local and foreign delegations in 744 virtual meeting rooms. The fair received the most foreign visitors from countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Ukraine, India, United Kingdom, Nigeria, France and Italy. A total of 71 thousand 963 people, 62 thousand 642 domestic and 9 thousand 321 foreigners, have visited the fair so far.