Why are Turkish drones so important?

Defense analyst Can Kasapoğlu has been interviewed by Anadolu Agency and was asked about the importance of Turkish drones. Here are two questions he was asked and his answers.

What are the advantages of using Turkish drones?

This article reviews many different weapon systems, from mini kamikaze UAVs made by the domestic defense company STM to Baykar’s unmanned fighter jet, Kizilelma.

Türkiye has crossed a critical threshold in drone technology based on several reasons.

First, the Turkish army was able to move the capability of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to different operational plans.

After the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US, UAVs were used for military operations and intelligence activities against high-ranking militants as part of the fight against terrorism.

Unmanned aerial vehicles served in many stages of conventional warfare, from the execution of operations to the suppression of enemy air defense, in coordination with the ground fire-support elements of the Turkish Armed Forces.

It is necessary to give credit to the defense industry, which has designed capabilities far above the basic demands and brought them into the inventory.

Secondly, the Turkish defense industry is working on highly innovative concepts under the weapon system designs, including the jet-powered unmanned combat aerial vehicle, Baykar Kizilelma, which has a turbofan engine; TRLG-230 Missile, which provides accurate firepower on high priority targets; TUSAS Aksungur (Medium altitude long endurance — MALE+ — class UAV system), and STM’s newest UAV BOYGA, which is capable to drop 81-milimeter (3-inch) mortar ammunition on the target thanks.

Türkiye’s defense industry does not hesitate to reflect their imagination on the design philosophy and concepts which is important for success.

What are the contributions of drones to the Turkish defense economy and diplomacy?

As Turkish drones become the center of Turkish diplomacy, this situation created two critical outcomes for Türkiye and its allies.

Systems with higher unit costs compared to TB2 and ANKA, such as Kizilelma, Akinci, and Aksungur, will naturally contribute to the success of the defense industry.

We observe that diplomatic negotiations with the Gulf Arab countries have accelerated in the new period of Turkish foreign policy.

Türkiye’s biggest competitor in the defense market is China.

As a NATO country, Türkiye’s competition with China in the Gulf Arab arms market, in the high-tech product market, is a strategic trend.

Moreover, Türkiye’s defense cooperation agreements, based on the country’s drone capabilities, create critical geopolitical impact in the former Soviet geography.

Türkiye’s cooperation with Ukraine to build Turkish-made military drones in facilities to be built in Kyiv, as well as in Turkic states interested in the product are significant points.

Also, it should be noted that Poland, the fastest-arming country on NATO’s eastern flank, placed orders for additional Bayraktar TB2 armed drones following the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in February 2022.

On the other hand, some critical diplomatic decisions such as strengthening the Ukrainian army against Russia or drone co-production investments in Azerbaijan should not involve inner politics, which are not based on data and are far from sectoral realities.

Therefore, despite the development of the Turkish defense industry, we cannot say the same about the intellectual content of the discussions over Turkish-made drones.

Why did Bayraktar TB2 drones become a hot topic in the world?

Produced by Baykar, Bayraktar TB2 is Türkiye’s most recognized defense industry product in the world.

It proved its capabilities in conflicts ranging from Karabakh to Ukraine.

TB2 created great international brand value. A song was written for TB2 by Ukrainians, and campaigns were organized in many countries to bring Bayraktar TB2 specifically to Kyiv.

TB2 drones have several critical features that stand out in the international arms market.

First, it has already proven its combat capabilities on the battlefield.

It would be useful to convey the battlefield experience of the TB2 in a little more detail.

In recent years, the TB2 has been used in battlefields, where the Russian Pantsir-S1 and Tor-M2 air defense systems were also deployed. In these conflicts, capabilities of the drones are critical, and electronic warfare pressure is intense.

Moreover, the TB2 was effective against a wide range of target groups, from armored units to artillery elements, from tactical ballistic missile launchers to air defense systems.

Second, it provides an extremely cost-effective solution.

For this reason, not only Poland, which does not hesitate to spend higher on defense as a NATO country, but also some countries with modest defense budgets, from Sub-Saharan Africa to the ex-Soviet geography, purchase the TB2s.

In sum, we are talking about a product in the international arms market that created its brand value by “fighting on battlegrounds.”

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