The European Defense Fund (EDF) presents a unique opportunity for Turkish companies to collaborate with European counterparts in advancing defense research and development (R&D) and fostering interoperability within the broader European defense ecosystem. This article delves into the latest updates on EDF regulations, explores potential avenues for Turkish participation, and outlines key considerations for maximizing these opportunities.

A bird’s eye view of the recent updates on EDF:

  • Increased Budget: The EDF budget has been significantly increased to €8 billion for the 2021-2027 period, offering broader scope for project funding and Turkish involvement.
  • Openness to Non-EU Members: While formal membership remains exclusive to EU member states, the EDF is increasingly open to participation from non-EU entities, including Turkish companies, through specific consortium arrangements.
  • Focus Areas: The EDF prioritizes collaborative projects in key areas like cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and unmanned systems, aligning with Turkey's own defense modernization goals.
  • Simplified Procedures: The application process has been streamlined to encourage broader participation, potentially easing entry for Turkish companies.


A few specific EDF programs and calls for proposals relevant to Turkish companies:

The EDF encompasses various programs and calls for proposals across several thematic areas. Here are some specific examples that might be of interest to Turkish companies:


Research Strand:

  • Disruptive Technologies: This program supports research into novel and groundbreaking technologies with potential applications in future defense capabilities. Areas relevant to Turkey's interests could include advanced materials, artificial intelligence, and quantum technologies.
  • Cybersecurity: This program focuses on developing innovative solutions to enhance the cybersecurity of defense systems and infrastructure. Turkish companies with expertise in cryptography, network security, and incident response could find opportunities here.
  • Space: This program aims to advance Europe's capabilities in space-based defense technologies, such as satellite communications and Earth observation. Turkish companies involved in the satellite industry or related fields could participate in relevant projects.


Development Strand:

  • Air Combat: This program aims to develop next-generation fighter aircraft and related technologies. While direct participation might be challenging due to the program's nature, Turkish companies could find subcontracting opportunities in areas like avionics, sensors, or engine components.
  • Ground Combat: This program focuses on developing advanced land warfare technologies, including armored vehicles, infantry weapons, and combat support systems. Turkish companies with expertise in these areas could potentially join consortia or participate as subcontractors.
  • Naval: This program supports the development of next-generation naval vessels and maritime technologies. Turkish companies in the shipbuilding and maritime systems sectors could explore opportunities in areas like propulsion systems, communication technologies, or underwater systems.
  • Open Calls:


Open SME Calls: These calls for proposals are specifically designed for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and encourage innovative and future-oriented defense solutions. Turkish SMEs with unique technologies or solutions could find these calls particularly attractive.

Consult HERDEM for EDF participation and guidance on finding suitable opportunities.

Here are a few valuable opportunities for Turkish Companies:

  • Joining Consortia: Partnering with EU-based companies in consortia allows Turkish companies to access EDF funding and expertise, contributing their own strengths to collaborative projects.
  • Subcontracting: Turkish companies can participate as subcontractors within EDF-funded projects, gaining valuable experience and contributing to the overall success of the initiative.
  • Technology Transfer: EDF projects facilitate knowledge and technology sharing, enabling Turkish companies to acquire advanced technologies and enhance their R&D capabilities.
  • Standardization and Interoperability: Participation in EDF projects fosters the adoption of common standards and protocols, promoting interoperability between Turkish and European defense systems.


Considerations for Maximizing Opportunities:

  • Early Engagement: Proactive engagement with relevant stakeholders, including EU entities and Turkish defense authorities, is crucial for identifying suitable opportunities and understanding participation requirements.
  • Building Partnerships: Establishing strong partnerships with EU-based companies is essential for forming competitive consortia and navigating the EDF application process.
  • Compliance: Ensuring compliance with EDF regulations and eligibility criteria is vital for successful participation and project execution.
  • Focus on Strategic Areas: Aligning participation with Turkey's strategic defense priorities and areas of expertise can maximize the impact and benefits of EDF involvement.


Future Outlook and Developments of the EDF and its Impact on Turkish Companies:

The EDF is still in its early stages, and its evolution will undoubtedly impact the opportunities available to Turkish companies. Here are some key trends to watch:

Increased Budget and Ambition: The EU intends to further expand the EDF budget in the coming years, potentially opening up even more opportunities for collaboration. Additionally, there may be a shift towards larger, more ambitious projects requiring broader consortia, which could favor strong collaborations between Turkish and European companies.

Growing Importance of Non-EU Participation: The recent openness to non-EU entities suggests that opportunities for Turkish companies will likely continue to increase. However, the specific level of access and participation rights might evolve depending on ongoing political and strategic discussions.

Focus on Strategic Autonomy and Defense Interoperability: The EU's push for strategic autonomy is expected to translate into stronger emphasis on projects contributing to European defense independence and interoperability. This could benefit Turkish companies with solutions compatible with European standards and technologies.

Emerging Defense Priorities: New areas like hypersonic weapons, directed energy systems, and advanced intelligence capabilities might gain prominence in future EDF programs, requiring innovation and expertise that Turkish companies could potentially contribute.

Potential Challenges and Uncertainties: Despite the positive outlook, some uncertainties remain. Geopolitical developments, changes in EU-Turkey relations, and competition from other non-EU countries could impact Turkish companies' access to certain programs or funding.

Recommendations for Turkish Companies:

  • Stay informed: Continuously monitor EDF developments, policy changes, and relevant calls for proposals.
  • Build strong partnerships: Develop strategic partnerships with EU-based companies to enhance competitiveness and expertise.
  • Invest in R&D: Focus on developing technologies aligned with future EDF priorities and European defense needs.
  • Engage with stakeholders: Proactively engage with EU institutions, Turkish defense authorities, and relevant industry organizations.
  • Seek expert advice: Utilize expertise from advisors specializing in EDF participation and European defense markets.