Good read about new weapon induction in PA UAV wing.
Beyond TB2s: Why Some Countries Are Buying More Than One Turkish Drone TypePaul Iddon
Mar 6, 2023,07:00am EST
Kuwait recently became the 28th country to order Turkey's well-known Bayraktar TB2 drone. At the same time, other foreign operators of the TB2 are going on to buy bigger, more advanced, and more expensive Turkish unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).
In January, Daiyrbek Orunbekov, the head of Kyrgyzstan's presidential press service, claimed that his country had purchased and taken delivery of Aksungur and Anka drones built by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI).
IZMIR, TURKIYE - JUNE 06: Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Anka, developed within the Turkish defense ... [+]
ANADOLU AGENCY VIA GETTY IMAGES
Writing on his official Facebook page, Orunbekov explained that recent border clashes with Tajikistan had prompted Kyrgyzstan to pay "special attention" to strengthening its security and armed forces. As part of this endeavor, Bishkek has seemingly bought four different Turkish drone types, apparently making it the first foreign country to do so.
Acquisition of the Aksungur and Anka appears new since there were prior reports and indications that the Central Asian nation had acquired the TB2 and Akinci.
Kyrgyzstan, which has no fighter aircraft in its tiny air force, bought TB2s in late 2021. In October 2022, a photo of the Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security head, Kamchybek Tashiev, posing in front of a Bayraktar Akinci drone captioned "Akinci is ours!" suggested Bishkek had also acquired that UCAV.
Even if Kyrgyzstan hasn't bought all four drone types, the fact it has bought more than the TB2 is a reminder that Ankara has much more than that model to offer the exponentially expanding international drone export.
"Kyrgyzstan operates more than one Turkish-made UCAV platform," Dr. Ali Bakir, a Turkey expert at Qatar's University Ibn Khaldon center and nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, told me. "There have been rumors lately that the land-locked country in Central Asia would be receiving Bayraktar Akinci UCAV, yet I would be surprised if this happens any time soon."
ISTANBUL, TURKIYE - JULY 05: 7 Bayraktar Akinci unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), are bring together as ... [+]
ANADOLU AGENCY VIA GETTY IMAGES
"Nevertheless, some countries already operating at least one type of Turkey-made UCAV have received or will be receiving the Akinci, such as Pakistan and Azerbaijan," he said. "The list of the other possible countries might also include Ukraine and Qatar."
The TB2's overnight success on the international market came primarily due to its successful combat use in three conflicts — Syria, Libya, and Nagorno-Karabakh — in 2020. Its relatively low price was attractive for countries that could not afford the more expensive and sophisticated drones on the market, which often come with stricter preconditions on their usage.
That's not the case, however, with these other, larger Turkish UCAVs.
"The Akinci is much more advanced than, and not as cheap as, the TB2, but these are two different platforms for different types of missions," Bakir said. "The fact that some Turkey-made drones have already proven themselves with a combination of low cost and high efficiency in harsh combat theaters, such as the Bayraktar TB2, means that Turkey has already proven itself as a rising drone-power."
Turkey's more advanced drones, such as the Akinci and the upcoming Bayraktar Kizilma pilotless jet fighter, will likely not be exported as widely as the TB2 for a number of reasons.
"Turkey's export strategy for the other more advanced and strategic platforms, such as Akinci, or the Kizilma in the future, would be different in comparison to the export strategy of TB2," Bakir said. "Fewer countries would be obviously qualified to receive Turkey's more advanced UCAVs."
However, having these advanced UCAVs on offer, even if to a more limited number of eligible countries, shows that Turkey can directly compete against the more high-end drones on the market rather than merely undercut them by offering cheaper, more expendable alternatives such as the TB2.
MIROSLAWIEC, POLAND - OCTOBER 28: A general view of the Turkish-made Bayraktar drones on display at ... [+]
ANADOLU AGENCY VIA GETTY IMAGES
"Top world-class UCAVs producers are limited," Bakir said. "There is a handful of countries competing in this domain, and many of the western countries — with the exception of the U.S. — are out of this competition at the current moment."
For years, the United States refused to widely export its armed drones, mainly because it adhered to the recommended limits outlined by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which aims to prevent the proliferation of armed drones. Proliferation continued anyway since countries like China exported its military drones with little regard to how the buyer ultimately used them. The U.S. later reinterpreted the MTCR under the Trump administration so it could export its drones.
Bakir does not believe that Turkey's success as a drone exporter is related to its export strategy or willingness to sell to countries that might use them for committing human rights violations.
"For example, besides the golden combination of low cost and high efficiency, the TB2 fills a gap in its category," he said. "Other non-Turkish platforms are either unreliable, very expensive, not seriously battle-tested or simply of a different category."
Beyond TB2s: Why Some Countries Are Buying More Than One Turkish Drone Type
Other foreign operators of the TB2 are going on to buy bigger, more advanced, and more expensive Turkish unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).
Baykar Defense has signed export contracts for the Bayraktar AKINCI drone with four countries so far. While one of these countries is known to be Pakistan, no official statement has been issued for the other three. Last March, the Pakistan Air Force released a video depicting the country’s Air Force’s advancement from the past to the present. Bayraktar Akıncı and Bayraktar TB2 drones can also be seen in the video between 3:12 and 3:25 seconds (see below). After the video was posted on the official page, it was revealed that Pakistan was one of the four countries where Akıncı was sold.
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