It is no exaggeration to classify Turkey currently as a major power in the world of drones, to the point that some experts consider it to be the third power after the United States and Israel at the level of the professional use of drones in military operations. Turkey has proven this time and time again, whether in the context of counterterrorism operations on its territory, or in its foreign military activities, starting with Syria (Idlib), passing through Libya, and ending with Azerbaijan, which received Turkish backing to regain its lands occupied by Armenia in the latest round of fighting between the two countries in the fall of the year.
This reputation has garnered prestigious praise from major powers for the Turkish drone industry, led by Britain, which launched a special program for the walking industry which was inspired by the Turkish experience, as well as many countries that are running to buy Turkish marches, such as Ukraine, Saudi Arabia and recently Poland, which signed ten years ago to buy 24 Turkish armed marches, thus becoming the first NATO member state to prepare for the Turkish marches.
In the next article, we review the incredible history of the Turkish drone world, and how Ankara became a major power in the drone world, which is militarily and intelligently limited to an elite group of countries. around the world, and we also explain the future of the project, Turkey’s long-term goals, and what the next generation of advanced aviation technology could achieve.< figure class = " wp - block - image ">< img src = " https : // www . aljazeera . net / wp - content / uploads / 2022/03 / نص - التقرير -140-2. jpg ? w = 770 & amp ; resize = 770% 2 C 217 " alt =" " class =" wp - image -4582591 "/> figure >
On August 15, 2018, Ismail Ozden, the prominent Turkish leader of the PKK responsible for the party’s operations in Sinjar, northern Iraq, attended a memorial ceremony near the village of Kocho, 15 kilometers to the south of Sinjar, and as Uzen left the memorial service, Turkish intelligence succeeded. By monitoring his location by monitoring the satellite phones of his collaborators, I was finally able to locate him with precision in a white truck of a PKK convoy traveling on a highway in the region.
Over the next few days, unusual video footage released by Turkish authorities of the operation made headlines across the country with clear praise for the operation, and a pride that could not be ignored for Turkey’s progress in the field of drones, which provided an invaluable opportunity for Turks to practice their national pride rituals The epic has a flavor that is not without modernity, following thediffusion ofa number of video games related to Turkish drones, which have become very popular among young people, including one game in which the participant simulates flights with drones over the Kurdish city of Afrin, unlike another game launched by the Turkish Aerospace Industries Company called “Operation Anka Relative au drone produced by the company of the same name, in during which the player engages in various scenarios for the fight against the “terroris me ”, and organizes unmanned aircraft missions, whether for reconnaissance or support to ground forces.
The new drones in Turkey therefore go beyond a simple military weapon or even a political issue to turn into an essentially national popular enthusiasm, a trend that the Turkish government seems to have decided to adopt from the middle of the last decade, especially since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided to make development of the national defense industry one of his main priorities, and he enacted constitutional reforms to this effect that were approved in the referendum on the Turkish constitution in April 2016, according to which the power to oversee the defense industry and defense procurement was granted to the presidency, thus completing the legal framework of the “Erdogan” project production of artisanal weapons.
However, Turkey’s ambitions to produce weapons at the national level predate this moment, since the 1970s Turkish officials have had great doubts about the negative effects of the use of American and Western weapons, a sentiment that s ‘is clearly reinforced in recent years after these countries have rejected many Turks. access requests. State-of-the-art weapons, as happened in 2014 when the US Congress refused to transfer two frigates & lt; & lt; Oliver Hazard Berry & gt; & gt; in Turkey due to Ankara’s hostile stance towards Israel and, most importantly, the long-standing US ban on the export of drones to many countries and under the leadership of the United States. Turkey.< figure class = " wp - block - image " id = " attachment _4463359">< img src = " https : // www . aljazeera . net / wp - content / uploads / 2022/05 / صورة - ميدان -2021-03-16 T 153223.758. png ? w = 770 & amp ; resize = 770% 2 C 513 " alt =" " class =" wp - image -4463359 "/> figure >
Until almost the middle of the last decade (in 2015), American drones had absolute hegemony over the skies of the world, a hegemony that began when Washington launched the first recorded attack by drones armed in Afghanistan in 2001, but that has changed during the last. five years with the realization of many strengths The other concerns breakthroughs in the field of drone manufacturing, foremost among which are China and Turkey, which today is one of the world’s greatest powers in this field.
Many reasons may have prompted Ankara to place the manufacture of drones at the heart of its ambitious plan for the production of weapons at the national level, on the one hand, drones are an effective weapon at the strategic and operational level, in addition to be inexpensive. compared to conventional weapons, especially jets, and on the other hand, the manufacture of drones being an exclusive privilege for a few countries which can be confined to the fingers of one hand, the success of the penetration in this field has provided Ankara with the global reputation it needs as a new member of the club of arms producing and exporting countries, and in this context, although Turkey’s arms exports still do not represent around 1% of the volume global arms exports, it appears that Turkey is determined to increase its share in this area, driven by broad ambitions to establish a strong national defense industry, and it appears that drones of various types will continue to play the role. spearheading role in these efforts.< figure class = " wp - block - image ">< img src = " https : // www . aljazeera . net / wp - content / uploads / 2022/05 / عنوان - ميدان -2021-03-16 T 153503.244. png ? w = 770 & amp ; resize = 770% 2 C 217 " alt =" " class =" wp - image -4463374 "/> figure >
Since 1975, Turkey has had uncomfortable relations with the United States after the latter imposed sanctions on the export of arms to Ankara following its invasion of Cyprus in response to the military coup backed by the United States. Greece on the island, and this tension with the United States had a long-term impact on the behavior of Turkey, which became less confident in American military support, and as a result, over the next decade, The country has established a number of national defense industry companies, most of which have focused on the production of ammunition and small arms, while some – such as the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) – have worked on larger projects such as production, guided missiles and airplanes.< figure class = " wp - block - image " id = " attachment _4463392">< img src = " https : // www . aljazeera . net / wp - content / uploads / 2022/05 / صورة - ميدان -2021-03-16 T 154202.979. png ? w = 770 & amp ; resize = 770% 2 C 513 " alt =" " class =" wp - image -4463392 "/> figure >
Despite this, and due to the severe restrictions imposed by Washington on the export of drone technology in particular, Ankara first entered the drone era from the same traditional gate when, in 1996, it purchased 6 GNAT 750 drones produced by the American General Automix, which is a limited-capacity aircraft used for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering purposes, used by Ankara to collect information on PKK fighters in the provinces of southeastern Turkey, where rebels took advantage of steep mountain passes to evade Turkish security forces.The supply of US planes is severely limited due to the time required to transfer data from the plane to the centers operations and to assess this information before deciding to launch an air strike using combat aircraft.
Later in 2006, Turkey asked Israel for access to armed Heron drones that had used military drones since the 1970s, but it took Israel five years to supply the aircraft to Turkey, before that Ankara does not accuse the Israelis of sabotaging their engines. The aircraft and its remote imaging systems and its return as part of a repair process that also took a few years, and even after Turkey recovered the planes – which were being operated with the help of technicians Israeli – Turkish officials remained skeptical that images collected from these planes were secretly in the hands of intelligence services. Israeli suspicions were heightened in particular after the diplomatic split between Ankara and Tel Aviv following the events of the ship “Marmara” in 2010, when Israel killed nine Turkish citizens aboard the ship which was trying to break the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.
While realizing these facts, Ankara made preliminary efforts to start a local unmanned aircraft manufacturing program, and Ankara is believed to have started work on the design of the airframe, software and communication systems since the early 1990s, but the real start of this path occurred in 2004 when the Turkish military put out a tender. The government’s design and development of a Medium Altitude High Endurance (MALE) drone won by the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), who then launched an unmanned aircraft named“Anka “, is it specified that it was able to fly at an altitude of up to 30,000 feet for a period of up to 24 hours, but the first flight Anka In 2010 it did not go well, as the plane crashed ten minutes after takeoff, otherwise the plane was dependent on radio waves in its communication system, which reduced the range of communication and limits the data transfer rate, which reduces the benefit The aircraft in general.< figure class = " wp - block - image " id = " attachment _4463395">< img src = " https : // www . aljazeera . net / wp - content / uploads / 2022/05 / صورة - ميدان -2021-03-16 T 154 353.674. png ? w = 770 & amp ; resize = 770% 2 C 513 " alt =" " class =" wp - image -4463395 "/> figure >
At the same time, Turkey faced no less complicated problems in importing engines and technical parts necessary for the manufacture of its own airplanes after the German company “Thielert”, which supplied engines in Ankara, has ceased to function, and the Chinese purchasing company “AVIC International”, has also ceased to export military engines. This prompted Ankara to launch a program to manufacture a local engine, but these problems did not completely stop the efforts to fully develop “Anka”, the Turkish plane having managed to make its first successful flight before the end. 2011, and in 2013, the aircraft “Anka” had been accepted to operate from Before the Turkish Air Force.
Despite all this, the main problem for Turkey was that the “Anka” planes, like the “Heron”, were unarmed, meaning that the missing link in the operational chain between intelligence gathering and the execution of operations was still lacking, and the flaw became apparent in 2011. For example, when hundreds of PKK militants launched simultaneous attacks on Turkish bases in the Hakkari district in the southeast during attack described as the party’s largest in decades, and while the “Heron” planes were able to transmit images of attacks from above, they had no integrated weapons system to intervene in the area. scene, and Turkey eventually found itself forced to respond traditionally by sending thousands of troops to launch ground operations across the border into Iraq.
At that time, Turkey was also receiving snapshots and intelligence signals from US “Predator” planes, but Washington insisted on refusing to sell armed drones to Turkey due to concerns about the hostile attitude from Ankara to Israel, so by 2015 Turkey has made a final decision To stop relying on the unreliable US ally and to lead its own arms race against Washington and NATO countries, development of an armed drone has been Turkey’s top priority in this race, which paved the way for the emergence of the second generation of Turkish drones. .< figure class = " wp - block - image ">< img src = " https : // www . aljazeera . net / wp - content / uploads / 2022/05 / عنوان - ميدان -2021-03-16 T 154457.090. png ? w = 770 & amp ; resize = 770% 2 C 217 " alt =" " class =" wp - image -4463401 "/> figure >
In fact, the journey of the second generation of Turkish drones began almost parallel to the first generation, but with less government support. In 2005, a 26-year-old Turk who had studied electrical engineering in Turkey and obtained a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in the United States before applying for a doctorate at the University of Massachusetts of Technology, he managed to persuade a group of Turkish officials to attend a small demonstration of a homemade drone he was working on himself, and in order to convince officials to adopt his project, the young “Selcuk Bayraktar” told them that his colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute were working on models similar to US military projects.
As the widely circulated video clip shows in recent years, Turkish officials saw with their own eyes – perhaps for the first time – a small Bayraktar plane taking off on its own and deploying its dummy weapons before descending gently on the way to landing. and settles again in the hands of Bayraktar. Turkish officials were not very satisfied with the offer made by the young Selcuk, hitherto unknown to the authorities in Ankara, although he came from a family who have a great activity in the automotive industry in Turkey.
Later, Selcuk presented scientific research, notably at the Massachusetts Institute, which contained an algorithm to land a drone in very rough terrain and even vertically on the wall, but the young Turk decided in 2007 to discontinue his studies at the prestigious American. and return to Turkey to participate in the management of the family-owned Bayraktar Makina, a company specializing in automotive components, was established in 1984 as part of Turkey’s efforts to manufacture cars locally. by the Turkish army to manufacture a model of a small unmanned aircraft, Ankara finally ordered the manufacture of 19 copies of them, and published in the south-eastern provinces of the country.
Thanks to his new job with the military, Bayraktar finally found the opportunity to test his new theories and models in the field and managed to convince the generals to be with them in the field to take notes. detailed on the types of technologies needed for his aircraft, and in 2015, the young engineer had finally managed to make a successful demonstration of the most advanced drones. “Bayraktar TB2”, which attracted the attention of the Turkish military after successfully hitting a target 8 kilometers away using a Turkish-made Guided Missile flying 4 kilometers away in performance tests. altitude That same year, Bayraktar took a big personal step with the Turkish president after marrying his youngest daughter, Sumaya Erdogan.< figure class = " wp - block - image " id = " attachment _4463404">< img src = " https : // www . aljazeera . net / wp - content / uploads / 2022/05 / صورة - ميدان -2021-03-16 T 154 721.092. png ? resize = 770% 2 C 513 " alt =" " class =" wp - image -4463404 "/> figure >
In a short time, the new Bayraktar aircraft became the backbone of the Turkish Air Force, thanks to its relatively high technical capabilities, because today the Bayraktar aircraft can fly at an altitude of 24,000 feet (approximately 7.3 km) for up to 24 hours and have an average range of 15 km. With the capacity to carry a payload weighing 55 kilograms, and with this remarkable development in the capabilities of local drones, Ankara decided to rely on it as the main weapon in its fight against the Kurdish organizations in the country. in the southeast of the country and on its borders with Iraq, and in June 2019, the Turkish aircraft Bayraktar had achieved a record 100,000 flight hours in less than four years, and according to Turkish media, the drones have participated in airstrikes against Kurdish organizations in at least 11 provinces in southeastern Turkey, and they were also used in five cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq, the latest of which was Operation Peace Spring in October 2019.
With the great success that the aircraft has shown, especially in Turkish operations against the Kurds, Turkey has decided to expand the range of its use of drones along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, which has caused successive friction between Turkey on the one hand, and Cyprus and Greece on the other, the latter complaining that Turkish drones repeatedly fly over the Greek islands of the Aegean Sea, while Nicosia has shown more , she complained about Turkish drones flying over gas exploration vessels that Turkey sent to explore the disputed waters between Cyprus and Greece, otherwise Turkey supplied in 2019 no less than 12 Bayraktar planes to the Libyan government of national agreement to help him repel the attack he launched. General Khalifa Haftar is in Tripoli at a time when Ankara has launched a strenuous effort to promote its drones to interested countries, including Qatar, Malaysia and Azerbaijan, before successfully signing a contract to export 12 aircraft unmanned advanced in Ukraine.
Thanks to these successes, the Drones gained confidence and a great position within the military, and became a cultural icon outside of it to the point that President Erdogan himself took care to take photos with the drones and affix his signature on some of them, and on the same mistake, the leaders of the Turkish provinces – especially in the south-east, which is witnessing the rebellion of the Workers’ Party – who have become regular guests of the drone hangars to offer praises and ritual praises to the new icons of the Turkish army.< figure class = " wp - block - image " id = " attachment _4463407">< img src = " https : // www . aljazeera . net / wp - content / uploads / 2022/05 / صورة - ميدان -2021-03-16 T 154 743.813. png ? w = 770 & amp ; resize = 770% 2 C 513 " alt =" " class =" wp - image -4463407 "/> figure >
Due to this official and popular interest, Turkey’s drone program has received a major boost in the past three years, as the national Bayraktar aircraft fleet has doubled from 32 in 2017 to nearly from 94 planes before the end of 2019, at least half of them are armed planes, and at the same time, the size of the Anka aircraft fleet has increased. To at least 30 planes, to make drones a basic pillar for at least six security and military organizations in the country, namely the army, the air force, the navy, the gendarmerie (the military police), the intelligence apparatus and the General Directorate security (the civilian police), which prompted Ankara to set up a special network of sites ready to receive drones in the south-east of the country, along its borders with Syria and on its sea coasts Aegean and the Mediterranean, and provided these sites with the necessary equipment, from the reception sheds to the x flying towers, and today the total number of drone bases in Turkey is estimated to be at least nine bases, These installations are absolutely necessary to operate the longest Turkish drones, given that the range of most drones Turks currently do not exceed a hundred kilometers, and most rely on traditional communication systems, not satellites.
However, the Turkish drone boom was not limited to the increase in the number of aircraft and drone bases only, but Turkish drone developers have managed to achieve remarkable technical leaps in recent months. In August 2018, Anka planes made the first controlled flight. satellite raid. In December of the same year, ANKA made its first flight with a locally produced engine. In 2019, Bayraktar and Anka broke their endurance records and each flew more than 24 hours. The same year, a product was revealed The two main drones in the country, Bayraktar Makina and Turkish Aerospace Industries, announced their intention to manufacture HALE (High Altitude High Durable Unmanned) drones respectively in the name of “Akinci” and “Axungor” , putting Turkey at the forefront of a new generation An evolution of armed drones.< figure class = " wp - block - image ">< img src = " https : // www . aljazeera . net / wp - content / uploads / 2022/05 / عنوان - ميدان -2021-03-16 T 154 851.114. png ? w = 770 & amp ; resize = 770% 2 C 217 " alt =" " class =" wp - image -4463411 "/> figure >
The “Akense” aircraft in particular is a very ambitious step in Turkey’s huge project to produce unmanned aircraft, with a wing-to-wing circumference of 20 meters, an operating life of over 24 hours, an altitude of over 40,000 feet (approximately 15 kilometers) and a payload of 450 to 900 kg and the ability to transport and launch long-range cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs, and Other state-of-the-art equipment including advanced radar, special electronic warfare system and space communication systems, “Aksense” will not only be the first long-range armed drone of the Turkish drone fleet, but it will pass the Bayraktar TB2 and the Anka plane, compared to them, to a killer game.
In view of this, it is not surprising that the Turkish government is paying the utmost attention to the efforts of Bayraktar Makina and the Akinci Project in particular, an interest which emerged in the Turkish President’s decision in September 2019 to grant the company an exemption from export taxes. Not to mention an estimated $ 120 million grant to create a new drone factory, with a clear goal of producing 36 Akensee aircraft over the next two years.< figure class = " wp - block - image " id = " attachment _4463418">< img src = " https : // www . aljazeera . net / wp - content / uploads / 2022/05 / صورة - ميدان -2021-03-16 T 154 931.767. png ? w = 770 & amp ; resize = 770% 2 C 513 " alt =" " class =" wp - image -4463418 "/> figure >
In order to achieve this huge goal, “Bayraktar Makina” is cooperating with the Ukrainian company “Ukrspecexport” to supply it with advanced turbine engines that Turkey is still not able to produce in the domestic market, provided that Kiev Eventually obtains 12 advanced aircraft units after completion. Ankara officials strongly anticipate the entry into service of the new aircraft, which is defined as an “unmanned ground-to-air combat aircraft” rather than a conventional unmanned aircraft. With the aircraft’s advanced capabilities in carrying bombs, aiming them with precision, and launching missiles with a range of 600 kilometers, it is likely to replace the F-16s in Turkish operations against the PKK, not to mention that they will provide Ankara with low-cost and risky aerial surveillance capabilities around the clock in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean regions.
With these great successes, one cannot ignore the indication that this vast and ambitious Turkish unmanned aircraft production program cannot be seen in isolation from Ankara’s wider efforts to establish a national defense industry on which can be relied on and its ambition to achieve self-sufficiency in arms, so the projects of Turkish defense industries Today they are not limited to drones, but they encompass many areas It starts from land vehicles and vehicles armored vehicles and goes through warships and does not stop at aerospace projects. In the field of maritime industries, for example, Ankara has set up a number of megaprojects, led by the “Istanbul Shipyard” and the “Golcuk Naval Shipyard”, and has been successful in securing international export contracts. ‘worth billions of dollars with Meanwhile, Sedef Shipbuilding is building the first amphibious assault ship for the Turkish Navy, which is the first step in an ambitious project to create a national aircraft carrier, while the The prestigious defense company Otokar is undertaking a number of megaprojects such as the manufacture of the Altay tank, which it has acquired. Building on a good reputation in recent years, Aselsan is active in the manufacture of defense electronics and exports its products to more than 60 countries around the world.< figure class = " wp - block - image " id = " attachment _4463422">< img src = " https : // www . aljazeera . net / wp - content / uploads / 2022/05 / صورة - ميدان -2021-03-16 T 155242.952. png ? w = 770 & amp ; resize = 770% 2 C 513 " alt =" " class =" wp - image -4463422 "/> figure >
Through the revitalization of the local defense industry, Ankara aims to achieve several objectives at once, and also indicates the prestigious intelligence studies of the Foundation “Stratfor”, the first of these objectives is to provide money and to stimulate the economic growth of the country, with the possession of Turkey’s second military force within NATO, the country needs huge investments in equipment, especially in light of its willingness to get rid of old equipment that dates back to the days of the Cold War, and in this context having a sophisticated national defense industry will save from the burden of exorbitant bills for foreign equipment and arms expenses, not to mention of its contribution to the development of the local industrial sector and the economy of the country as a whole.
In addition, Turkey is also seeking to strengthen its self-reliance and break free from the dominance of Western arms suppliers, especially the United States and Germany, which have rejected dozens of Ankara’s demands. to obtain arms over the past five years, and it makes reducing dependence on foreign imports is a vital goal for Ankara, and finally, Ankara wants to exploit its arms exports as a means of strengthening its presence in its geographic environment and to present itself as a reliable ally for many partners in its larger plan to gain influence.
Across all of these goals, it appears that Ankara’s plan is bearing fruit, albeit on a slower timeframe than it aspired to, whether due to economic restraints or the huge competition that it has to offer. ‘Ankara receives as a middle power seeking to break into the advice of adults, but in the area of drones on the face of In particular, it seems that Ankara has managed to prove a presence that cannot be ignored, and she can be proud – and it will not be wrong in this – that it was one of the few forces that succeeded in breaking the hegemony of the United States in the skies during the days of lethal drones.