Turkey has completely abandoned its external reliance on unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technologies and is now producing some of the best platforms in the world, the chief technology officer (CTO) of drone mogul Baykar said in a recent interview. .
Selçuk Bayraktar, in an interview with Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV, commented on Turkey’s national technology, the history of drone development in the country and its role in the new generation of drones.
Bayraktar, who said they took the first step with a small project to produce planes capable of self-flying, said they started building drones in a small workshop.
He recalled that the first planes they produced were small planes that could stay in the air for an hour and fly a distance of only 15 kilometers (9.3 miles).
Stating that they started the world famous Bayraktar TB2 Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) project in 2010, Bayraktar said that this particular drone joined the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) inventory in 2014 following of the work of the Defense Industry Under-Secretariat, which became the Defense Industries Presidency (SSB).
“The TB2s have been successful in the fight against terrorism (in Turkey) and counter-terrorism operations outside Turkey,” Bayraktar said.
The combat drones have been used against the PKK terrorist threat inside and outside Turkey’s borders, as well as against Daesh terrorists in Syria.
Another Baykar company’s UCAV project, Akıncı, Turkey’s most advanced drone to date, began in 2016, Bayraktar continued. This model is much larger than the world famous Bayraktar TB2.
Akıncı UCAVs have very high power, which allows them to fulfill strategic missions, carry cruise missiles and engage in air combat while being operated by satellite, the company’s CTO said.
Further commenting on how the country started its journey to produce drones with domestic resources, Bayraktar said the country used to buy drones from Israel, “but planes from abroad could not take off and land automatically, and Israeli pilots used to lift and land the drones with a manual control device.”
Bayraktar said that starting with smaller volume drones, Turkey developed the software in the country that enabled the automatic landing and takeoff of planes.
Stating that the TB2 is the most famous drone model in the world and has been sold in 16 countries, Bayraktar said, “TB2s can stay in the air for 27 hours, have a range of hundreds of kilometers, can carry 130 kilograms (287 pounds) and are equipped with highly sensitive intelligent military equipment.
Referring to other characteristics of Turkish drones, Bayraktar said that they are difficult to detect by radar and have achieved great success against tanks and defense systems, for example in the Idlib region of Syria and in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.
In massive retaliatory strikes and artillery fire in Idlib during a regime attack in February 2020 that killed 33 Turkish soldiers and injured dozens more in the region, Turkey used its national drones for everything strike, from tanks to howitzers and Russian-made air defense systems.
At least 2,200 Syrian regime troops, one drone, eight helicopters, 103 tanks, dozens of howitzers and three air defense systems were neutralized, according to Defense Ministry statements at the time.
National drones provided surveillance and close air support (CAS), and destroyed regime targets with locally produced smart munitions either delivered by the drones or from afar with their advice due to the proximity of the Syrian airspace with Turkish F-16s.
Later, Bayraktar TB2s were used by the Azerbaijani army in their fight to recapture occupied Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenian forces, again leaving no room for heavy military equipment, including tanks, howitzers and weapon systems. Russian air defenses to escape.
The drones have been hailed as giving Baku the upper hand in liberating its lands.
Bayraktar further said on “the secret of the transformation of Turkey’s defense industry over the past 20 years” that it is “dedication to work and the will to get rid of foreign dependence “.
Pointing out that the country depended on foreign suppliers for 85% of defense industry supplies in the past, Bayraktar said Turkey was now self-sufficient.
All commercial designs and major components were developed domestically, Bayraktar stressed, reiterating that Turkey no longer has any foreign dependence on security materials or major components of security industry products. defense.
Bayraktar pointed out that the global drone industry was previously dominated by the United States, China and Israel, but Turkey is now among the top three.
“Europe does not have platforms comparable to Turkey, currently Turkish UCAVs are exported to European countries,” he also said.
Export contracts have been signed with 16 countries for Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs, while it has already been integrated into the arsenals of Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Qatar.
Among the member countries of the European Union interested in Turkish combat drones, Poland has already signed a contract for the purchase of Bayraktar TB2, thus becoming the first NATO member country to acquire the Turkish drones. The first deliveries will arrive in 2022.
Latvia then hinted that it could be the second EU and NATO member state to buy Turkey’s UCAVs which have achieved resounding success in the field.