“February 14, 2021 Dedicated to our Gara martyrs and Özdemir BAYRAKTAR…”
Defense industry and security research does not produce results through comparisons of specific systems. However, system-specific evaluations provide various clues about security perceptions. In the different series of articles that have started in Defence Turk, different military vehicles and weapon systems are introduced, and different opinions and evaluations on these systems are included. The studies are blended with certain descriptions due to their structure.
“The human brain tends to apply various methods to enhance learning and make what is learned permanent. Associations and emotional connections with the concept to be learned make what is learned easy to remember and memorable. In the series of articles we will create, we will publish our articles by using the brain’s method of association. We will introduce military vehicles and technologies in various fields by associating them with the similar characteristics of living things in nature. In our series, we will reveal the ways in which human beings, inspired by nature in every production, have adapted this inspiration to machines.
Enjoy your reading…”
DRAGONFLIES – Armed / Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
- Dragonflies (Sympetrum flaveolum) are among the best evolved insects with their high hunting success, advanced eye structure and ability to fly for long periods of time, which they have achieved as a result of their evolutionary processes dating back 300 million years. “Armed/Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”, which we will associate with dragonflies, is one of the ambitious products developed by the modern aviation efforts of mankind for more than 100 years.1, 2, 3
- In many respects, UCAV systems have common features with Dragonflies, which have the ability to swim across the ocean, with their durable structures that are suitable for staying in the air for long periods of time.4
- Dragonflies are insects that have metamorphosed from their aquatic life into ruthless predators of the sky. It is possible to liken UCAVs to dragonflies as they have evolved from drones, the first unmanned systems, to today’s advanced surveillance systems, armed with payloads and weapons.
- Like dragonflies, which have the ability to hunt their prey with a high percentage of success, UCAVs are able to silently reconnoiter, track and destroy their detected targets with high success and precision.
- Dragonflies detect, track and capture their prey with their advanced eyes, which are made up of more than 3500 tiny pores and have a 360° field of view.3 4 Similar to dragonflies, UCAVs use advanced electro-optical (EO) surveillance systems such infrared vision, laser rangefinders, laser targeting and thermal cameras during operations, and we can make a comparison between the spherical eyes of dragonflies.
- Dragonflies are insects that prefer calm and stagnant waters as a habitat and feed around that ecosystem. Currently used Armed/Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (AUAVs) are generally deployed in low-intensity (calm) conflict areas where air dominance is ensured and in safe airspaces where enemy fighter jets are not present and/or cannot interfere. However, as time goes by, and as circumstances dictate, UAV systems have started to be deployed in high-intensity conflict areas (e.g. Türkiye’s Operation Olive Branch), taking into account the possibility of casualties.
In a series of armed (combat)/unmanned aerial vehicles that we associate with dragonflies,
- BAYKAR Bayraktar TB2 UCAV (Türkiye)
- BAYKAR Akıncı UCAV (Türkiye)
- TAI Anka UCAV (Türkiye)
- TAI Aksungur UCAV (Türkiye)
- General Atomics MQ-1 PREDATOR UCAV (USA)
- General Atomics MQ-9 REAPER UCAV (USA)
- IAI Heron UAV (Israel)
- ELBIT Hermes UAV (Israel)
Armed/Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and other UCAVs will be added according to the demands of the readers.
Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles
Armed/unmanned aircraft systems, which have recently become a popular option to avoid the high mission and maintenance costs of fighter aircraft, are becoming the new favorite of armies with their success in the operational areas. The main objectives behind the effective cost avoidance in the use of UAVs are to be able to conduct ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) and ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) activities in the operational area for long hours, to hit targets of opportunity while conducting reconnaissance, and/or to intervene in dangerous areas without risking the pilot’s life.
One of the most important benefits of UCAVs, which provide many benefits to military units in many areas, is to prevent the wear and tear of pilots, who are the most expensive class of soldiers to train, and to help them use them in more effective missions by keeping them away from monotonous patrol missions and risks.
UCAV systems enable the execution of long-term target surveillance, etc. missions and operations, which are characterized as “Dull“, by keeping the personnel out of the risk environment.5 UCAV systems, which can be designed in accordance with different mission definitions and equipped with mission-based payloads and ammunition, offer armies different areas of use with their various capabilities such as aerial reconnaissance, observation, detection, tracking, mapping, marking and attack.
Armed/unmanned aerial vehicles, which have led security strategists to reinterpret and discuss today’s war doctrines, have begun to pose a major threat to all mobile and stationary enemy elements, including tanks, heavy/light armored vehicles, air defense systems, floating elements, howitzers, artillery units, UCAVs (with UCAVs equipped with air-to-air ammunition), headquarters and positions.
Armed/Unmanned Aerial Vehicle systems, with the support of ground control stations and satellite control, provide the opportunity to discover and destroy all activity in the operational area from kilometers away. In the coming years, these systems are expected to communicate with each other and distribute tasks among themselves, further easing the burden on army personnel.
BAYKAR Bayraktar TB2 UCAV
BAYKAR Bayraktar TB2 UCAV Bayraktar TB2, the first Armed/Unmanned Aerial Vehicle system of our Dragonflies series, is frequently mentioned in the Turkish and global agenda with its operational success in various geographies. In the article, many aspects of Bayraktar TB2 UCAV are mentioned respectively:
- Türkiye ‘s UCAV Request Process,
- BAYKAR Defense and Operations,
- Prototype Bayraktar TB2 (PT1), First Trials and Technical Specifications,
- The Position and Contribution of UCAV Systems in an Integrated Structure and The Joint Operational Mission,
- Position, Impact and Cross-System Compatibility within the Operational Concept,
- Bayraktar TB2 UCAV Export Success and Potential Sales Countries,
- Bayraktar TB2 UCAV Operational History,
- Naval Activities of Bayraktar TB2,
- Turkish UCAV Reflections in the Global Press,
- Bayraktar TB3 UCAV – TCG ANADOLU Duo and Their Impact,
- Holistic View
Bayraktar TB2 UCAV is analyzed under these headings.
Türkiye’s UCAV Request Process
For many years, the Turkish Armed Forces’ needs for aerial detection, tracking, observation, targeting and destruction in intensive internal and external security operations have been met by fighter jets. The current situation has forced the Turkish military budget to bear high costs. Many projects have been developed by different manufacturers to meet the needs met by fighter jets at lower costs and with domestic capabilities.
These products, developed by universities, industrial organizations, local and foreign company partnerships, have entered the TAF inventory in limited numbers or not at all due to various reasons. TAI Turna / Keklik (1996), TAI Pelikan, TAI Martı (2003), METU Güventürk, EES A.Ş. Kırlangıç and EES A.Ş. Doğan projects, which were produced for research and/or military purposes, are examples of such projects.
Despite all domestic project attempts, the first UAV system that met the requirements of the Turkish Armed Forces and was used in surveillance-type operations was the GNAT 750 UAV developed by the American General Atomics company. A total of 18 units of the GNAT 750, which began to be imported in the early 1990s, were purchased.6
This purchase was one of the first steps in providing armed forces personnel and industry engineers with the opportunity to closely examine unmanned aerial vehicles. In the following years, Türkiye, which continued to demand UAVs, decided to purchase HERON UAVs developed by IAI (Israel Aerospace Industry), turning to Israeli systems. However, in the course of time, there have been problems in the maintenance and utilization processes of HERON UAVs due to tensions in Türkiye – Israel political relations, problems in procuring parts from IAI, and delays in maintenance. It would not be wrong to mention the problem with the weight of the camera proposed by Türkiye during the privatization phase of the HERON UAV system for Türkiye among the reasons for dissatisfaction. Dissatisfied with this slow process, the TAF turned its attention back to domestic companies and products.
BAYKAR Defence and Operations
Before moving on to a system-specific evaluation of the TB2 UCAV, which is one of the most popular indigenous products that the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) is turning to, we start by examining the background of the manufacturer company. The company, which has been manufacturing in the automotive sub-industry since 1984 under the name BAYKAR Machine, is one of the most prominent Turkish companies in recent years with its indigenous UCAV designs created with domestic and national capabilities.
Now known as BAYKAR Defence, continues to develop and produce Bayraktar TB2 serial production, AKINCI AUAV (Attacker UAV) serial production, Bayraktar TB3 UCAV, Bayraktar Vertical Take-off and Landing UAV, KIZILELMA (Combat Unmanned Fighter Jet) and Cezerî Flying Car. By entering a sector such as unmanned aerial vehicles, which requires high technology and a strong infrastructure, BAYKAR has created a strong export item for Türkiye in addition to its efforts to meet the needs of the Turkish Armed Forces with domestic capabilities.
In 2003, Selçuk BAYRAKTAR, Technical Manager of BAYKAR Defence, now BAYKAR Defence Technical Director of BAYKAR Makina, stated that there was a tendency towards the field of UAVs. During the prototype presentation of the mini UAV, a different product of BAYKAR, at TAI facilities in 2005, he said: “If this and similar unmanned aerial vehicle projects are supported, Türkiye can become number one in this field within five years.” 7 This statement sheds light on the current success of Turkish UAVs.
The Bayraktar TB2 project started with the Mini UAV developed jointly by BAYKAR and Kale Group. Bayraktar Mini UAV is a 10 kg Under Cloud UAV system developed for reconnaissance, detection and surveillance missions. The Mini UAV, the first national unmanned aerial vehicle to enter the TAF inventory, was presented to the public during the EFES 2010 military exercise.
Prototype Bayraktar TB2 and First Trials
Following the Mini UAV, BAYKAR started working on a larger UAV and started developing the TB2 UAV. The TB2 (Tactical Block) made its first flight with the prototype Bayraktar PT-1 (Prototype) UAV on June 8, 2009 at the Keşan UAV Unit.9 In its first fully autonomous flight, the prototype PT-1 (Prototype-1) UAV ascended to 1000 feet (~305 m) and flew for a total of 16 minutes. Although the prototype with the PT-1 tail number shows minor differences with today’s Bayraktar TB2 design, its basic design was originally drawn by the late Mechanical Engineer Özdemir BAYRAKTAR, founder of BAYKAR Makina.12 The prototype PT-1 of the Bayraktar TB2 Tactical UCAV, which is currently in mass production, was awarded the TÜBİTAK Technology Award in 2010. Bayraktar TB2 completed its first official test flight in Sinop Erfelek on September 29, 2009.10 In the ongoing tests, Bayraktar Çaldıran PT-2 flew at Sinop State Airport on September 30, 2009 at an altitude of 17,000 feet and performed fully automatic taxi and take-off, autonomous flight, course, payload control and fully automatic landing tests.1
Technical Specifications of Bayraktar TB2
The production and development process of the TB2, which is produced with domestic and national capabilities, started in 2012 keeping Türkiye’s long UAV adventure alive. Bayraktar TB2 has a wingspan of 12 meters, a ground clearance of 2.2 meters and a length of 6.5 meters. The current TB2s are equipped with the Canadian ROTAX 100 horsepower ROTAX engine, which has proven itself in the civilian field, enabling the indigenous UCAV to stay in the air for a long time. There are statements that engines developed by TEI will be preferred for the new models of TB2 and TB3.
Bayraktar TB2, whose technical features and indigenousness are frequently emphasized, is an effective player in all harsh weather conditions such as desert heat, freezing cold, snow and storms regardless of day or night. Although it is not correct to determine the exact unit price of the Bayraktar TB2 in the sales of Bayraktar TB2 for the domestic and foreign markets due to the fact that the price is given in bulk with ammunition in addition to the aircraft, the unit price of Bayraktar TB2 changes in proportion to the current models of Bayraktar TB2, changes in its requirements, and the development of its features with the Bayraktar TB3 model.
Bayraktar TB2 PT-2 conducted its first firing test on December 17, 2015 with a munition without a warhead, and on April 29, 2016, it fired a ROKETSAN MAM-L munition carrying a warhead at a target from a distance of 8 kilometers, achieving full accuracy. During the tests conducted at Konya 3rd Main Jet Command, in addition to firing from an altitude of over 18,000 feet, targets laser marked by TB2 were destroyed by F-16s taking off from the same base.13 Bayraktar TB2 has an average cruising speed of 70 knots (130 km/h) and a maximum speed of 120 knots (220 km/h). With a 300-liter fuel capacity, the indigenous UCAV has an operational altitude of 18,000 feet (~5400 m) and a maximum altitude of 27,000 feet (~8200 m).14
With a 700 kg maximum take-off weight and 150 kg payload (Exchangeable EO/IR/LD System, Mapping Pod or Multi-Purpose AESA Radar) carrying capacity, the TB2 is capable of carrying laser-guided MAM-L and/or MAM-C ammunition developed by ROKETSAN and UMTAS missiles.15 In addition, the TB2 UCAV can carry the KEMANKEŞ Cruise Missile developed by BAYKAR specifically for UCAVs. Although SSB sources state that the TB2 is capable of carrying UMTAS missiles, no visual or new information has been announced to date regarding the use of the munition by official statement.
With the MAM-L ammunition, which has a maximum effective range of 14 km, Bayraktar TB2 can stay in the air for a long time and instantly destroy the opportunity target in the regular and/or irregular warfare order that it tracks and detects. The ROKETSAN MAM (Mini Smart Munition) product family has been developed for airground missions where weight is critical, such as unmanned aerial vehicles. MAMs have high accuracy against fixed and moving targets such as armored/unarmored land vehicles, enemy personnel, radar antennas and weapon emplacements. The MAM-L used by the TB2 UCAV was not limited to land targets, but also proved that it can be used against naval targets with the destruction of surface targets in the Mavi Vatan 2021 Military Exercise. 16 In order to diversify the firepower of the TB2 UCAV, studies on its compatibility with the laser-guided ammunition BOZOK developed by TÜBİTAK SAGE have been completed and it has been made suitable for use.
|MUNITION NAME with its TYPE||PRODUCER / DEVELOPER||WEIGHT / HEIGHT / DIAMETER||RANGE||STATE OF USE|
(Miniature Cruise Missile Munition)
|BAYKAR||30 kg / 1.73 cm / ~160 mm
(1.25 m wingspan)
|200+ km||IN DEMONSTRATION|
(Laser Guided Miniature Munition)
|ROKETSAN||94 kg / 1.4 m / 230 mm||30+ km for UCAV (not for TB2)
60+ km for Light Attack Jet
90+ km for Fighter Jet
|READY TO USE|
(Laser Guided Miniature Munition)
22 kg / 1 m / 160 mm
|8 km (Can be inreased to 14 km)||
(Laser Guided Miniature Munition)
|ROKETSAN||6.5 kg / 970 mm / 70 mm||8 km||IN USE|
(Laser Guided Miniature Munition)
|TÜBİTAK SAGE||16 kg / 80 cm / 120 mm||15+ km||IN MASS PRODUCTION|
Bayraktar TB2 is defined by BAYKAR as a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) class UCAV.14 However, in terms of engine power, payload capacity, service altitude and cruise speed, the TB2 UCAV does not meet some of the accepted definitions for the MALE class. Although the communication range of the TB2 UCAV varies depending on the E/W (Elecronic Warfare) environment, meteorological conditions and subsystem support, it has reached a communication range of 1800 km thanks to its 300 km LOS (Line Of Sight) communication range and BLOS (Beyond Line Of Sight) system.
With more than 400 units produced, Bayraktar TB2 is one of the most successful UCAV systems in its class in the world.17 In the Bayraktar TB2-S model, which was developed with the SATCOM (Satellite Communication) Satellite-Linked Communication Device, which was produced by the domestic company CTech and added to the Bayraktar TB2 system, allows the theoretical expansion of the communication range in line with satellite coverage. It is stated that it is possible to integrate SATCOM into the TB2 UCAV systems in the inventory if necessary or desired. 17, 18
Bayraktar TB2 is sensitive to threats in the electronic warfare environment with its ability to perform the defined mission as fully automatic navigation thanks to its route tracking feature and to return to the air base when the ground station connection is lost. Fully Automatic Flight Control and Triple Redundant Autopilot System has the capability to navigate with Internal Sensor Fusion without GPS dependency.
Embargo Decisions on Bayraktar TB2
While the CMX-15D camera of the Canadian company L3Harris WESCAM was used as the electro-optical reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting system on the Bayraktar TB2, these requirements were met with the ASELSAN CATS system following the embargo decision taken on the grounds of Türkiye’s support for Azerbaijan in the Karabakh War.19 Although the embargo has been relaxed from time to time due to diplomatic détente, BAYKAR insists on the use of domestic products and continues to work on the compatibility of Bayraktar TB2 with ASELSAN CATS.
According to the information published by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the engine deliveries of the Bombardier company have been suspended due to the use of the ROTAX engine used in TB2s in the Karabakh War.20 Faced with this decision for the Canadian civil aviation engine Bombardier ROTAX, BAYKAR Defence’s TB2 model was offered strong alternatives by TEI. The engine power of the TB2, which was updated as 105 horsepower on the presentation page of BAYKAR General Manager Haluk BAYRAKTAR at a student event, brings to mind the possibility of using engines produced by TEI. With the use of TEI engines, the payload capacity and propulsion power of the TB2 UCAV is expected to increase, and the newly added SATCOM Satellite-Linked Communication System will further enhance its combat and communication capabilities.
With more than 600,000 flight hours Bayraktar TB2 has been delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces since 2014, after which it started to serve in different units within the Gendarmerie General Command, the Turkish National Police and the National Intelligence Organization. The Bayraktar TB2 Tactical UCAV, of which more than 400 have been produced to date, is being used effectively by different institutions in Türkiye, as well as by exporting armies.21 As Haluk BAYRAKTAR stated in his statements, the TB2, which flies an average of 10,000 hours per month, is a product that continuously operates and develops in the field.22
The TB2 UCAV, which is continuously fed and updated with the feedback of the security forces in our country, makes a difference in the field of conflict with its low production and maintenance cost compared to its counterparts, ease of use, impact on asymmetric elements and adaptability to joint operations. In addition to military missions such as laser target marking, friendly and enemy element tracking, sabotage detection, and damage assessment after destruction, Bayraktar TB2 Tactical UAV can also be used in civilian missions such as traffic route observation, fire and natural disaster damage assessment.
In addition to the security services, the General Directorate of Forestry has already added the Bayraktar TB2 Tactical UAV to its inventory.23 The Bayraktar TB2 Tactical UAV is used for detection, precaution and observation purposes within the OGM, as well as for the transfer of information to forest guards and fire brigade units. Another example of the use of the TB2 UAV in civilian missions is its use in fire detection, followup, damage assessment and area scanning activities for different purposes during the Elâzığ, İzmir, Kahramanmaraş-Pazarcık earthquakes and the simultaneous forest fires in various parts of Türkiye.
Bayraktar TB2, which is used by different countries and different units, has broken the records for time in the air (24 hours and 34 minutes) and altitude (27 thousand 30 feet) in the history of Turkish aviation. In July 2019, during a demonstration flight in Kuwait under severe desert conditions, Bayraktar TB2 updated its record of staying in the air for a single flight to 27 hours and 3 minutes. This record was later taken over by another domestic and national production system, TAI (Turkish Aerospace Industry) AKSUNGUR UCAV, with 60 hours.24
According to Haluk BAYRAKTAR, General Manager of BAYKAR Defence, the majority of the TB2’s avionics, actuators, data link systems and other infrastructure systems have been produced under the umbrella of BAYKAR Defence, increasing the indigenous content of the product to 93%. Haluk BAYRAKTAR states that the wheels of the TB2 are manufactured by PETLAS, the carbon fiber body by AKSA DowAksa and the propeller by another local company.22 The use of a high percentage of domestically produced parts in the parts of Bayraktar TB2 strategically reduces external dependence and allows Türkiye to conduct its operational processes independently.
Position of UCAV Systems in an Integrated Structure and Joint Operation Mission
The speed, quality and size of data transfer between combat systems play an important role in the success of operations. Inter-system cooperation enables joint operations and has a direct impact on the size of the presence of friendly and enemy elements in the field and the interventions related to the analyzes made based on this size. Bayraktar TB2’s control station and inter-system compatibility are among the most important issues to be addressed.
Ground Control Station (GCS)
Although Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are referred to as “vehicles”, they are part of an integrated system. In this system, there are two basic structures: the aircraft and the Ground Control Station. BAYKAR Ground Control Station (GCS), which is the maintenance and decision-making body of the UAV, can transfer the images from the aircraft in real time and archive them simultaneously.
The BAYKAR Real-Time Image Transfer System, which is a real-time image transfer and archive management device within the structure of the UAV, secures access to the image server by encrypting the images archived at the control station in different ways. High resolution and delay-free live broadcasts can be viewed by multiple users at the same time, enabling simultaneous communication with different platforms in the operational field. The BAYKAR Ground Control Station allows Bayraktar TB2 aircraft to be controlled at forward bases far from the main base areas. The powerful communication antennas on the relocatable GCS extend the flight range of TB2s by allowing them to take off and land in their current areas of operation.
BAYKAR GCS consists of a NATO ACE III standard shelter, a hydraulic antenna platform that can be raised up to 12m, automatic directional antenna systems, a powerful truck that provides mobility to all these systems and hydraulic parking legs. BAYKAR’s indigenously designed station can be installed and commissioned safely and quickly thanks to its sensors and control valves.
In the structure of the mobile GCS has included:
- Radio Systems,
- Internal Internal Speech Systems,
- Adjustable Tower Actuation System,
- Pilot Console,
- Payload Operator Console,
- Image Valorization and Processing Console,
- Rack Type Cabinets, Power Systems,
- Power Supply Units,
- Military Type Air Conditioning Unit,
- NBC (Nuclear – Biological – Chemical) Spill Containment System.
Position, Impact and Cross-System Compatibility within the Operational Concept
As depicted in the Turkish Type Reconnaissance – Assault visual designed by Defence Turk, the TB2 UCAV is just one of the players in the integrated operational concept implemented by the Turkish Armed Forces. In the ecosystem of the concept, it is possible to see elements of the Air Force, Electronic Warfare Systems, the intelligence satellite system and various fire support and command and control systems of the Land Forces. We can see the benefits of the regular joint action of all these systems in the Turkish Armed Forces’ Operations Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch and Peace Spring. The game-changing effect of UCAV systems used with their high success rate and effective performance on the battlefield is an undeniable reality. The air defense systems, radars, tanks and various combat vehicles that Bayraktar TB2 has rendered unusable in conflict areas in different geographies are proof of this.25, 26
Integrated into the system and operation center with Ground Control Stations, UCAVs are in a strategic position in sharing the data in the field with other elements in real time thanks to the ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance) activities they conduct. Armed unmanned aerial vehicles, which have the ability to realize the instant destruction (see and shoot) of the target decided by evaluating the shared data, create a dominant effect and psychological wear and tear on the enemy element with these features.
In internal security operations, which witness combat clashes in rural areas and in unauthorized environments, despite the advantage of terrorist organization militants’ small groups and irregular structuring, the see-and-strike capability and precision destruction capability of TB2 and different UCAV systems have weakened this advantage of the organizations.
Based on the motto “No Combat Without Communication“, the detection, surveillance, identification, identification and targeting carried out silently from medium altitude by UAVs provide awareness to the troops and fire support elements (Tank, Howitzer, Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher, Artillery, Mortar, etc.) in the field, enabling targets to be hit with a high success rate.
Making a statement on the F-35 Program, from which Türkiye was excluded, Polish Defense Minister Błaszczak stated that the TB2 will have the ability to work together with the F-35 fighter jets, Patriot and HIMARS missile systems as a whole with the joint combat operation system, and that the key point is inter-system compatibility.27 To open a parenthesis to a remarkable part of this statement: Although BAYKAR TB2 has been developed in line with the requirements and field experiences of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF), it also has a high level of flexibility in terms of being integrated into even the most modern systems of other countries.
Another example of TB2’s inter-system integration and inter-unit coordination in joint operations is its compatibility with the TRLG-230 system. TRLG-230 LGM (Laser Guided Munition), a new generation artillery missile developed by ROKETSAN for the needs of the Turkish Armed Forces, was used effectively by Azerbaijan during the Karabakh War and successfully fired at targets marked by Bayraktar TB2 UCAV.
Bayraktar TB2 UCAV Export Success and Potential Sales Countries
Bayraktar TB2, which is in the inventory of the Turkish Army, has proven itself in different geographies by taking part in various in-border, cross-border and overseas operations and has earned the title of “Combat Proven“. The indigenous and national UCAV TB2, which has made a great impression on the world public opinion with its achievements, has been used by friendly and/or allied countries:
- Asia: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Qatar, Kuwait, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan;
- Africa: Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Morocco, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Togo;
- Europe: Poland, Romania, Ukraine.
With the sale of the TB2 UCAV system to the Qatari Armed Forces, the system became the “First Domestic and National UCAV System to be Exported“. Currently, a total of 200+ UCAVs continue to serve in the inventory of Türkiye and various countries.28
Number of Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs in Türkiye and selected countries:
Türkiye: There are a total of 110+ TB2s in different units.29
- Turkish Armed Forces,
- General Directorate of Security,
- Gendarmerie General Command,
- National Intelligence Organization.
It is highly probable that Bayraktar TB2 will be among the six UCAVs announced to be procured by the Coast Guard Command, which is increasing its role in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Sea of Islands.
Countries purchasing Bayraktar TB2:
- Assessed according to official statements or verifiable observations.
- Qatar: 6 TB2s and 3 Ground Control Stations (GCS) exported.30
- Ukraine: 6 TB2s and 3 GCSs were exported. 48 units are expected to be ordered. 31
- Azerbaijan: Issued in unknown numbers.
- Poland: 24 units exported in 4 sets (to enter service in early 2022).
- Turkmenistan: No official announcement has yet been made about the number exported. However, 3 Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs were displayed at the ceremony.
- Morocco: Number not disclosed, estimated at 13.
- Kyrgyzstan: Menstrual information unknown.
- Niger: 6 units delivered.
- Romania: 18 units to be delivered.
- Kosovo: 3 units delivered.
- Burkina Faso,
Although there is no official statement regarding the export of the system to Libya, it is possible to say that Bayraktar TB2 is being used by the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) of Libya through images leaked from the conflict zone. According to the statements of Minister of Industry and Technology of Türkiye Mustafa VARANK and President of the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries President İsmail DEMİR, in addition to the Middle East region, there are demands and offers for Bayraktar TB2 from North Africa, Europe and Asia. BAYKAR, which announced exports of 360 million dollars in 2020 and 664 million dollars in 2021, has become an important exporter in the military aviation and defense industry ecosystem.
In addition to its own sales, Bayraktar TB2 also contributes indirectly to the Turkish economy with products compatible with UCAV systems such as ROKETSAN National Smart Ammunition family, TÜBİTAK SAGE BOZOK and various sub-components. In the report published by the Turkish Exporters Assembly on a sectoral basis on the revenues of exported products as of May 31, 2021, the total amount of exports in the “Defense and Aerospace Industry” sector for 5 months exceeded 1.2 billion dollars, which reflects the importance and development of the sector.32
According to Haluk BAYRAKTAR, the TB2 UCAV, for which export contracts have already been signed with 24 countries, is among the products that are of great interest to foreign delegations visiting Türkiye. Based on this discourse, it is likely that the UK, Lithuania, Hungary, Serbia, Albania, Romania, Latvia, Iraq, Nigeria and Indonesia have been added to the list of countries where Bayraktar TB2 has achieved export success, or will be added in the near future. 33, 34 The Romanian Ministry of Defense announced that a contract worth $300 million is on the table, including 18 TB2 UCAVs and training, maintenance and support packages.
Bayraktar TB2 UCAV Operational History
Wars, operations and exercises in which TB2 participated:
- Internal Security Operations (2014 – …)
- Operation Euphrates Shield of Türkiye ( 24, 2016 – Mar. 29, 2017)
- Operation Olive Branch of Türkiye (January 20, 2018 – March 24, 2018)
- Operation Peace Spring of Türkiye (Oct 9, 2019 – Nov 25, 2019)
- Operation Spring Shield of Türkiye (Feb 27, 2020 – Mar 6, 2020)
- Libya’s Second Civil War
- Military Exercise / Surveillance Activities in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Sea of Islands and Arabian Peninsula (Mavi Vatan, EFES and Deniz Kurdu; Al-Adheed – Qatar; Sea Breeze – Ukraine Military Exercises)
- Claw Operations of Türkiye (May 28, 2019 – …)
- Second Karabakh War (September 27, 2020 – November 10, 2020)
- Russia – Ukraine War (February 23, 2022 – …)
Bayraktar TB2 took part in Operation Olive Branch in Syria for more than 5300 hours. Working in harmony with the TB2 and other UCAVs of the Turkish Armed Forces, the fire support vehicles neutralized many Pantsir S1, S-125 Pechora and TOR air defense systems of the Syrian Army. The shaken reputation of the Russian Air Defense Systems as a result of these destructions is a reality that should not be overlooked.
In addition to its effectiveness on land, Bayraktar TB2 accompanies TPAO’s (Turkish Petroleum Corporation) ships, Türkiye’s energy exploration fleet at sea, and accompanies the Turkish Navy on friend or foe detection, identification, surveillance and reconnaissance missions in the Blue Homeland. Among the various Armed/Unmanned Aerial Vehicle systems used by the Turkish Armed Forces, there are 8 Bayraktar TB2 Tactical UCAVs.35 Türkiye is one of the few countries to use unmanned aerial vehicles in its Naval Forces.
Following the “Treaty on the Delimitation of Maritime Jurisdiction” between Libya and Türkiye, the deployment of a Turkish UCAV system in the TRNC came to the agenda and this process resulted in the authorization of the use of Geçitkale Airbase for the activities to be carried out with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles upon the request of the Turkish Cypriot Peace Forces Command.36 It is possible to say that the operational depth of the Republic of Türkiye, which will increase its operational depth in the Cyprus Island and the region with the UAV systems to be deployed to the Turkish Rebuplic of Northern Cyprus Geçitkale Air Base, which has geostrategic and geopolitical importance and dominates the Eastern Mediterranean, will also increase its influence in the field.37
Vehicles and Systems Neutralized by Bayraktar TB2 UCAV
TB2, which is one of the most frequently used UAV systems in the conflicts between the Government of National Accord in Libya and the putschist Haftar forces, has neutralized more than 15 Russian Pantsir S1 Air Defense Systems belonging to Haftar in the Libyan field. In addition to the ASWs, 1 AN-26 Cargo Aircraft and many ammunition depots and positions were also destroyed by Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs.38
It is reported that the material loss of the Armenian Army in the Karabakh War, one of the conflict areas where Bayraktar TB2 was most actively used, was approximately 1.9 billion dollars. The Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs imported by Azerbaijan some time before the 2020 Karabakh War, also known as Operation One Homeland, were used in various numbers against T-72A, T-72 AK, T-72B battle tanks; 9K33 OSA, 9K35 Strela-10, 9K300 Tor Air Defense System; Repellent-1, R-330P Piramida Electronic Warfare System; P-18 Spoon Rest D, ST86U/36D6, 19J6 (S-300’s radar) systems; and a large number of Multiple Barrel Rocket Launchers, artillery and howitzers of different calibers and ranges. In addition to the aforementioned systems, more than 400 personnel and logistics vehicles such as APCs, IFVs, trucks and military jeeps were destroyed by Turkish UCAVs.39
It is claimed that the Russian Air Defense System S-300PS was also among the systems destroyed. The indigenous and national Turkish UCAV TB2 also had moments in the Karabakh War when it undertook the SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) mission, detecting and destroying various components of the Armenian Army’s air defense systems (radars and launcher systems). The psychological superiority it creates in the battlefield, its cost-effective use, its ability to provide instant imagery, data transfer quality, threat detection and instant destruction of targets of opportunity, and its proven field successes have brought Bayraktar TB2 to a position that cannot be ignored among the unmanned aerial vehicles in the world. It will not be difficult to say that Bayraktar TB2 will play an active role in other war/conflict areas and exercises around the world by increasing the strong impact it has created in the light of the experiences it has gained in the field in a short time.
Turkish UCAV Reflections in the Global Press
Bayraktar TB2 images closely scrutinized by military officials from Greece and Armenia, two states with significant conflicts of interest with Türkiye, have been covered in the Turkish press. In addition to local media coverage, the global press has also been closely scrutinizing the operational processes of Turkish UCAV systems.
Some of the headlines of news sources about Bayraktar TB2 and other Turkish UCAVs in the global press:
- The Wall Street Journal: Armed Low-Cost Drones, Made by Türkiye, Reshape Battlefields and Geopolitics.
- The Washington Post: Türkiye’s military campaign beyond its borders is powered by homemade armed drones.
- Al Jazeera: Battle for Idlib: Türkiye’s drones and a new way of war.
- The Guardian: Revelead: How UK technology fuelled Türkiye’s rise to global drone power. / UK wants new drones in wake of Azerbaijan military success
- Financial Times: Türkiye’s armed drones bolster Erdogan’s hard-power tactics.
- Forbes: Many of its articles have featured the role of Bayraktar TB2 in the field.
- Türkiye’s Drones Are Coming In All Sizes These Days.
- The ‘Magic Bullet’ Drones Behind Azerbaijan’s Victory Over Armenia
- Voice Of America (VOA): Turkish Drone Power Displayed in Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict.
- France24: Türkiye’s drones provide crucial edge in Syria.
- The Bulletin: Türkiye’s military drones: an export product that’s disrupting NATO.
- Bloomberg: Turkish Drone Maker Baykar Makina Gets Government Support.
- The Intercept: The Second Drone Age – How Türkiye Defined the U.S. and Became a Killer Drone Power
- Al-Monitor: Turkish drones in Libya are a strategic and family affair
- Foreign Policy: The U.S. Army Goes to School on Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
State Order to BAYKAR Top Management
Haluk BAYRAKTAR was awarded the “First Degree State Order of Merit of Ukraine” for his contribution to the strategic level of relations between the two countries.40, 41
BAYKAR Defence Technical Manager Selçuk Bayraktar was awarded the “Order of Karabakh” for his contributions to strengthening the brotherly relations between Azerbaijan and Türkiye, developing cooperation and ensuring the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan. The late Özdemir Bayraktar, founder of BAYKAR Makina, and Haluk Bayraktar, General Manager of BAYKAR Defence, were also among the names awarded the state decoration.42
Haluk Bayraktar was awarded the “Ordre de L’etalon Officier”medal, the country’s highest national honour, in Burkina Faso, on the instructions of President Ibrahim Traore.45
Bayraktar TB3 UCAV and TCG ANADOLU Duo and Its Impact
Selçuk BAYRAKTAR gave information for the first time about the TB3 armed unmanned aerial vehicle, which will be the upper model of Bayraktar TB2, during a television broadcast in Azerbaijan, and stated that the Bayraktar TB3 will be an UCAV that can take off and land on aircraft carriers and different ship platforms, has folding wings and weighs approximately 1200 kg. Selçuk BAYRAKTAR, Technical Manager of BAYKAR Defence, explained that a system similar to the TB3 UCAV system being studied had not been developed before.
It is stated that the Bayraktar TB3 UCAV system is being developed to be positioned on the Amphibious Assault Ship TCG ANADOLU, which will be Türkiye’s flagship. With the catapult-like launch system to be placed on the bow of the TCG ANADOLU, it is aimed to accelerate the Bayraktar TB3 UCAV to take-off speed and take it into the air. Although it is stated that different solutions are on the table as a landing concept, it would not be wrong to state that such a concept of catching with a net has not been tried before on such a shortrunway ship and will be realized for the first time by the TCG ANADOLU – Bayraktar TB3 UCAV duo.
As stated by Haluk BAYRAKTAR, General Manager of BAYKAR, in an interview at Teknofest 2021, Bayraktar TB3 will fly with the indigenous 175 HP PD-170 engine developed by TEI (Turkish Engine Industr), and it will be possible to observe an increase in the ammunition variety and carrying capacity of the UCAV. TEI General Manager Prof. Dr. Mahmut AKŞİT also stated that in addition to the PD170, a 225 HP engine called PD222ST (Single Turbo) could also be integrated into the TB3.
In addition to the ROKETSAN MAM-L, the Bayraktar TB3 UCAV system will also be capable of using the MAM-T particle-impact ammunition with a weight of 94 kg and a range of 30+ km. BAYKAR General Manager Haluk BAYRAKTAR also stated that the necessary analyses have been carried out for the TB3’s landing on the ship, and that special radars have been built for its precise landing in order not to damage both the ship and the aircraft.
MAM-T Ammunition (can be use by Bayraktar TB3 UCAV)
It should be noted that we do not frequently encounter studies on the use of fixed-wing UAV systems on naval platforms within other armies around the world. As a result of the work between unmanned aerial vehicles and naval platforms, which is not relatively easy, the Turkish Navy will gain various capabilities, while the Turkish industry (not only limited to the defense industry) will gain knowledge and experience in this field. It is clear that Türkiye’s development in these fields will not only positively affect the Turkish presence in the field (military, diplomatic, economic), but will also contribute greatly to the power transfer capability of the TCG ANADOLU, which will be a floating island.
|Cruising Speed / Top Speed||Maximum Take-Off Weight||Payload Capacity||
70 knot (~135 km/s) / 120 knot (~220 km/s)
125 knot (~230 km/s) / 160 knot (~295 km/s)
|KIZILELMA||0.6 Mach (~735 km/s)||6000 kg||1500 kg||
To distill the study, in our series of articles aiming to filter military vehicles from a different perspective, Bayraktar TB2, an unmanned aerial vehicle that can be used armed or unarmed, was examined in a comprehensive and in-depth framework by constructing the “Dragonflies – UCAVs” correlation. The technical specifications of the indigenous and national UCAV TB2, its missions in the warfare environment, its position in the Turkish warfare network, its operational impact, its export success and its presence in the near future have been analyzed. In this respect, it would be appropriate to provide the following information at the end.
In an era of rapid development of unmanned and autonomous systems, Türkiye has been one of the recent players in this development race and has taken an active role in the paradigm shift in this field. Both the needs of the Turkish Army and Türkiye’s desire for development in this field have been of great importance in this positioning.
BAYKAR Bayraktar TB2 UCAV has become one of the armed unmanned aerial vehicles used against regular armies by being used against regular armies (Syrian Armed Forces and Armenian Armed Forces) in addition to its effect on terrorist organizations practicing irregular warfare. Although armed unmanned aerial vehicles have been used for precision operations in the history of world warfare (USA – Invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan Operations), Bayraktar TB2 UCAV was a first with its effective use against a regular army (Armenian Armed Forces).
The successful use of Bayraktar TB2 UCAV and other Turkish UCAV systems in the joint warfare system has increased Türkiye’s power and influence in the region, played a significant role in untying some knots that could not be resolved for years (Armenia’s Karabakh Occupation), created a multiplier effect on the operational capabilities of the armies using them, and especially questioned the capabilities of tank and air defense systems in the field.
The cumulative return of the Turkish defense industry investments made since the embargoes encountered in the 1970s has been observed in Bayraktar TB2’s ammunition type, its effect in electronic warfare environment, alternative electro-optical surveillance system, alternative power group, communication hardware and software system. Achieving success with a strong blend, Bayraktar TB2 proved itself with its effect of changing various warfare dynamics in the operations it participated in and became the first Turkish UCAV to achieve export success
Russian Pressure and the Antidote Bayraktar TB2
In addition to the fact that the TB2 UCAV will be included in the inventory of the Poland, which lives with Russian Defense Systems and the Russia Federation’s threat, and is included in NATO’s Forward Presence, it is also a first for Turkish aviation with the sale of UCAVs to an EU and NATO country. It is also noteworthy that the Turkish Republics as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, which live with the same threat and are still under pressure from time to time from Russia in various fields (Geopolitical, Military, Administrative, Economic), despite their independence, prefer Bayraktar TB2 UCAV.
Africa and Bayraktar TB2 UCAV
There are indications that another use of the antidote is in breaking the hegemony of the former colonialist France on the African continent. The Bayraktar TB2 is a powerful alternative for African countries struggling to establish public order by fighting intertribal wars, military coups, pressure from terrorist organizations and various internal disturbances. The Bayraktar TB2 UCAV will continue to be in demand as a system that is likely to be among the first choices of states that want to create a relatively low-budget but effective air force.
It is possible to foresee that Bayraktar TB2 will have a serious impact on the suppression of African rebels who move in dispersed groups with pick-up vehicles, motorcycles or on foot. The impact of TB2 UCAVs, which are capable of rapid destruction against targets of opportunity, will be undeniable in preventing activities that cause damage in various dimensions such as looting, raiding; human, weapons, commodity trafficking; and subcontractor terrorist acts in Africa.
Bayraktar TB2’s success in the operational field attracted the world’s attention and was featured in local and global media. The field success of TB2 has played an active role in becoming an export item for the Turkish economy and defense industry, and has brought added value to our country.
As we said at the outset, “Defense industry and security research does not produce results by comparing specific systems. However, system-specific evaluations provide various clues about security perceptions.”
Özdemir BAYRAKTAR and Interview
Although we cannot focus on the human factor sufficiently due to our system-specific analysis, competent personnel in the field of operation, military experience, military capability and the communication infrastructure within the employing force lie in the background of all ongoing operations. In this respect, while remembering our martyrs and veterans with gratitude, I am coming to the end of the review of Bayraktar TB2 Tactical UCAV, the first armed/unmanned aerial vehicle of the Dragonflies series, with the interview given by the late Özdemir BAYRAKTAR, the founder of BAYKAR Makina, to Milliyet Newspaper.
The late Özdemir BAYRAKTAR explained how the project was born on Gabar Mountain as follows: “In the 2000s, we went to Şırnak 6th Internal Security Brigade. Lieutenant Colonel Melih GÜLOVA, one of the commanders there, showed us the blood of martyrs. He told us that they were trying to find a technological solution to this terrorism. I said, ‘We will do our best on our own behalf, but will you be able to accept my offer?’ ‘What is it?’ said Commander GÜLOVA. ‘Give me the opportunity to set up a workshop here and I will support you technologically,’ I said. The commander thought it over, discussed it with his colleagues and used his initiative to enable us to set up a workshop at the foot of Gabar Mountain, where the Brigade is located. This is how this unmanned aerial vehicle project started. Then that valuable commander, Lieutenant Colonel Melih GÜLOVA, was martyred by a bomb detonated remotely by terrorists in June 2007. These projects and these achievements are actually their work.“43
For a prosperous and independent Türkiye…
“Free and unfettered in our skies…”
Author: Mert Emirhan PAMUK
- “Adalar Denizi’nde İHA Sistemleriyle İstihbarat, Gözetlene ve Keşif, 2021, Alemdar”
- Togo, Türkiye’den bir parti Bayraktar TB2 teslim aldı – Haber Aero (archive.org)
- Baykar Genel Müdürü Haluk Bayraktar’a, Burkina Faso’da devlet nişanı verildi (aa.com.tr)