For years Turkey has boasted NATO’s largest army, bar only the United States, and now President Tayyip Erdogan wants a defense industry to match.

Erdogan’s dream that Turkey will make all its own military equipment within a few years reflects his ambition to play a greater role in a turbulent region and achieve independence from long-time allies in the West.

Trying to drum up nationalist support as the ruling AK Party heads into tough parliamentary elections next month, Erdogan has also called repeatedly for the country to become a major exporter of everything from rifles to fighter jets. […]