Turkish Defense Firm To Test Sea-Based Drones As Orders Increase

The Turkish defense company whose armed drones were instrumental in the conflicts in Azerbaijan and Libya will soon test two new drones that will extend Turkey’s drone capabilities from ground operations to naval operations, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Haluk Bayraktar, one of the two engineer brothers who run the Baykar defense company, said the new aircraft will be tested in the next two years and will be able to take off from a Turkish navy ship currently in production.

Turkey’s deployment of the company’s Bayraktar TB2 drone has been a major factor in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Azerbaijan, pushing Baykar into the spotlight and transforming it into a major manufacturer and exporter.

The firm has signed export agreements with 13 countries, including a joint production agreement with Ukraine, as its products help reshape the way modern wars are fought, Bayraktar said.

The scale of Turkey’s drone program places it among the world’s top four producers along with the United States, Israel and China, analysts say.

Bayraktar TB2 of the Ukrainian Air Force (credit: MINISTRY OF DEFENSE OF UKRAINE / CC BY 4.0 / VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

“Intelligent drone systems are the two leading technologies that changed the landscape of energy projection,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of the defense program in Istanbul.

“As everyone talks about how drone technology is changing battle doctrines … one of our next targets is the TB3 drone, capable of taking off and landing at TCG Anadolu,” Bayraktar said, referring to a Turkish light aircraft carrier. planned.

Although the ship will be able to carry combat helicopters on its landing platform, Turkey does not operate an aircraft that can take off from the ship. The TB3, with a folding wing design, could be deployed from short naval runways.

With some sections in production, the first test flight is expected to be seen next year, Bayraktar said.

It will be followed by an unmanned combat aircraft, called MUIS, with the first prototype flight expected in 2023, he said. Currently in the design phase, MUIS will be jet powered, with a payload of up to 1.5 tonnes.

The autonomous maneuvering craft will be capable of operating in tandem with piloted aircraft and can carry air-to-air missiles, the company said.


Baykar, founded in the 1980s by Bayraktar’s father, began focusing on drone production in 2005 as Turkey was looking to strengthen its local defense industry.

It now spearheads Turkey’s global defense export push. President Tayyip Erdogan, whose daughter is married to Baykar’s CTO Selcuk Bayraktar, says international demand for TB2 and the new Akinci drone is huge.

“Everywhere, even on my trip to Africa, they want drones, armed drones and Akinci,” he told Baykar workers last month after returning from a trip to Angola, Togo and Nigeria. “The whole world … wants to see and know what you are doing.”

The first Akinci drone, which has a longer flight time and can carry a larger payload than the TB2, was delivered to the Turkish army in August.

Despite growing demand, the Kremlin has criticized the use of Turkish-made drones in eastern Ukraine against the Russian-backed militia. The planned sales to Ethiopia, mired in civil war and at odds with Egypt, have caused friction with Cairo.

Bayraktar said Turkey had made a “great leap” in its effort to create its own defense industry over the past 20 years, expanding from 17 companies to almost 17,000.

“Drone technology is just a success story born out of the drive for national and indigenous development,” he said. “We started reaping the benefits of work that started two decades ago recently.”


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