Click to listen


There is no exaggeration in the classification of Turkey as currently a major power in the world of drone drones, and that some experts consider it the third force after the United States and Israel at the level of the professionalism of running the Drones in military operations with precise synchronizations, whether armed, for surveillance, monitoring and intelligence, and there is no Evidence is greater than what Ankara's planes did in the Idlib skies and in northern Syria in general, in addition to the scenes that have recently circulated in the skies of Libya by destroying the Russian "Panzer S1" system.

These drones had their impact in late February of the year 2020, when the Turkish army targeted a meeting of senior leaders in the Syrian regime and another from Hezbollah to kill 10 attendees of the meeting and wounded twenty others, and the monitoring and targeting came through the air force of the ether currently for the "Druze" Turks, While the Drones also bombed dozens of locations of the Assad regime's militia in the Aleppo and Idlib countryside, with simultaneous Turkish artillery shelling.

In the recent period, Ankara faced the dilemma of blocking the airspace, a dilemma that comes from providing Russia to its ally the "Assad regime" with comprehensive air defense systems, whether the S-300 system for tracking and destroying remote and high targets "jet aircraft and some high-altitude missiles", or "Pansyre S" systems. 1 ″ and "Pak M2" for medium and short-term targets, and the Turkish Drones problem came specifically from the Russian "System S1" system designed to confront them, but the Turkish bombing succeeded in destroying a number of important sites for these batteries, and then contributed heavily to opening Airspace in front of the Drones to replace the jet fighters J still can not go into battle without endangering the lives of the Turkish pilots at risk.

It can be said that the same situation existed in the Libyan sky in which the forces of Haftar and his allies temporarily outperformed, before the Turkish Drones overturned the equation through what many had seen in the past few days of the destruction of the "Banser S1" system and the accompanying military progress of the forces of the government of reconciliation in Tripoli. After its control of Al-Wataya Air Force Base, it is one of the strategic locations in the Haftar project to overthrow the legitimacy in Libya. What is the story of the development of the Turkish Drones, and how did the Turks restore their prestige in the global arms market?

Text of the article
On August 15, 2018, Ismail Ozden, a prominent Turkish leader in the PKK and responsible for the party’s operations in Sinjar, northern Iraq, was attending a memorial ceremony near the village of Kocho, 15 kilometers south of Sinjar, while Ozen was leaving the memorial, and the Turkish Intelligence succeeded in monitoring his location by observing the phones of his aides working on satellites. In the end, he was able to accurately locate him inside a white truck inside a Labor Party convoy traveling on one of the highways in the region.

With Ozden, or "Zaki Shankali" as his supporters liked to call him, one of the most wanted men on the red lists of the Turkish authorities, it was not surprising that what happened after locating him took place, as a Turkish-made drone of the "Bayrakdar TP2" took control mission. The Ozden convoy and its tracing before launching a laser-guided bomb at his pickup truck, and the Turkish drone watched colleagues of the Kurdish leader as they transported him to another red car, and while the second car was making its way towards a fortified base for the Labor Party, the plane launched the next strike and instantly killed Ozden and ten Other people accompanied him.

Over the following days, the unusual video recording issued by the Turkish authorities themselves for the operation occupied the headlines in the country with a clear popular tribute to what happened, and the pride of the Turks could not be ignored by the progress made by their country in the field of drones, which provided an invaluable opportunity For the people to practice the epic rituals of national pride with a flavor that was not devoid of modernity, and that came after the spread of (1) a number of computer games related to the Turkish Drones to meet widespread demand among Turkish youth, including a game in which the participant simulates drone flights over the Kurdish city of Afrin, B Contrary to another game launched by the Turkish Aerospace Industries Company under the name "Operation Anka", in relation to the plane that the company produces in the same name, during which the player performs various scenarios for the "war on terror", and organizes the Drones missions, whether for reconnaissance or providing support to the ground forces.

The new Druze in Turkey then go beyond being just a military weapon or even a political issue, to turn the paradox into a flame that inflames national popular enthusiasm, a trend that appears to have been adopted by the Turkish government since the middle of the past decade, specifically from the moment that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided to Making the development of the national defense industry one of its main priorities and enacting constitutional reforms for this purpose were approved during the referendum on the Turkish constitution in April 2016, according to which the authority to oversee the defense industry and defense procurement for the presidency was granted, thus completing the legal framework for And "Erdogan" for the production of homemade weapons.

However, Turkey’s ambitions to produce weapons locally precede this moment much. Since the 1970’s, Turkish officials have had great doubts about the negative effects of relying on American and Western weapons, a feeling that has been clearly reinforced in recent years after these countries rejected many Turkish requests to obtain Advanced weapons, as happened in 2014 when the US Congress refused to transfer two "Oliver Hazard Perry" frigates to Turkey because of Ankara's "hostile" attitude toward Israel, and most importantly, the long-standing ban imposed by Washington on the export of drones to many countries and in Sacred Turkey also met.

The Drones are an effective weapon on a strategic and operational level, as opposed to being inexpensive compared to conventional weapons, especially jet aircraft.

Until 2015, the American Drones had absolute dominance over the heavens of the world, a dominance that started from the moment when Washington launched the first recorded attack of armed Drones in Afghanistan in 2001, but that changed during the past five years with many other forces making breakthroughs in the field of Drones manufacturing and in Foremost among them is China and Turkey, which today is considered one of the most prominent global powers in this field.

There are many reasons that may have prompted Ankara to place Drones manufacturing at the heart of its ambitious plan to produce weapons locally. On the one hand (2), the Drones are an effective weapon on a strategic and operational level, other than being inexpensive compared to conventional weapons, especially jet aircraft, on the other hand, And while Drones manufacturing is an exclusive privilege for a few countries that can be restricted to the fingers of one hand, success in penetrating this field provided Ankara with the global reputation it needs as a new member in the club of countries that manufacture and export arms. In this context, and despite the fact that Turkey's arms exports have not yet exceeded 3% of the volume of global arms exports (a figure that has multiplied at least twice compared to 2016), Ankara appears determined to increase its share in this area driven by broad ambitions to establish a well-established domestic defense industry And it appears that the Drones of all kinds will continue to play the spearhead role in these unprecedented efforts.

The first plane

Since 1975, Turkey has had an uncomfortable relationship with the United States after the latter imposed sanctions on the export of weapons to the first after its invasion of Cyprus in response to the military coup supported by Greece on the island, and this tension with Washington had a long-term impact on the behavior of Ankara, which has become less confident in American military support, and as a result, over the next decade, the Turks established a number of local defense industries companies, most of which focused on the production of ammunition and small arms, while some - like the Turkish Aerospace Company (TAI) - worked on larger projects such as guided missile production and missiles. she saw.

The drone "ANKA" (Reuters)

Despite this, and due to the severe restrictions imposed by Washington on the export of drone technology in particular, Ankara entered the Drones era 3 for the first time through the same traditional door when in 1996 it bought 6 drones of the GNAT 750 s that Produced by the American General Atomics Company, a limited capabilities Drones used for reconnaissance and information gathering employed by the Turks to collect information about PKK fighters in the southeastern provinces of Turkey, where the rebels took advantage of the rugged mountain paths to evade the Turkish security forces, and Turkey was taking advantage of the information provided US aircraft is very limited because of the time it takes to transfer data from aircraft operations centers then evaluate this information and the extent of quality before making a decision directing an air strike using fighter jets.

Later, in 2006, Turkey requested to obtain armed Heron drones from Israel, which had been using military drones since the 1970s, but it took five years for Tel Aviv to provide the planes to Ankara, before the latter accused the Israelis of sabotaging engines. The plane and remote imaging systems are being restored for a repair process that also took a few years, and even after the Turks recovered the planes - which were being operated with the help of Israeli technicians - officials remained skeptical that the shots collected from these planes found their way secretly to the hands of the Israeli intelligence Yelya, suspicions that were particularly exacerbated after the diplomatic break between Ankara and Tel Aviv in the wake of the events of the "Marmara" ship in 2010 when Israel killed nine Turkish citizens on board the ship that was trying to break the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.

With Ankara realizing these facts, it began making early efforts to launch a local program for the Drones industry, and estimates indicate that Turkey began working on designing the aircraft structure, software, and communications systems since the early 1990s, but the actual beginning of this path occurred in 2004 when the Turkish army issued a government tender for the design and development The MALE drones were won by the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) who then launched the drone as the “ANKA”, a drone said to have been able to fly up to 30,000 feet for up to 24 An hour, but the first flight of " NCAA "in 2010 did not go well, as the plane crashed ten minutes after takeoff, otherwise the plane relied on radio waves in its communication system, which reduced the extent of the connection, reduced the rate of data transmission, and then reduced the usefulness of the plane generally.

The main problem for Turkey was that, like “Heron,” Inca was not an armed Drones

Simultaneously, (4) Turkey faced problems of no less complicated in importing engines and technical parts for the manufacture of its private aircraft, after the German company "Thielert", which was supplying engines to Ankara, stopped working, and the Chinese purchasing company AVIC International also stopped exporting the engines. The military, which prompted the Turks to launch a program to manufacture a local engine, but these problems did not completely stop the efforts to develop "ANCA", as the Turkish plane succeeded in making its first successful flight before the end of 2011, and by 2013 the ANKA planes had been accepted To operate by the Turkish Air Force.

Despite all of this, the main problem for Turkey was that "Anka", like "Heron", was not armed Drones, which means that the missing link in the chain of operation between gathering information and carrying out operations at the time is still missing, and that imbalance appeared evident in 2011, for example. For example, when hundreds of PKK fighters launched simultaneous attacks on Turkish bases in Hakkari Province in the southeast in an attack described as the most prominent for the party for decades, and while "Heron" planes were able to transfer footage of the attacks from above, they did not have Any integrated weapons systems to interfere in the scene, and Turkey eventually found itself AD It has had to respond traditionally by sending thousands of soldiers to launch land operations across the border in Iraq.

At that time, Turkey was also receiving (5) some snapshots and intelligence signals from American Predator aircraft, but Washington insisted on refusing to sell armed Drones because of its concerns about Ankara's "hostile" attitude towards Israel as it sees it. So by 2015, Turkey made a final decision to stop relying on the "unreliable" American ally and to run its own arms race against Washington and NATO countries, and developing an armed drone was the top priority for Turkey in this race, which paved the way for the second generation of Turkish drones.

The Godfather

The journey of the second generation (6) of the Turkish Drones began almost parallel to the first generation but with less government support. In 2005, a 26-year-old Turkish man, who studied electrical engineering locally, obtained a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, before applying for a doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, succeeded in convincing a group of Turkish officials to attend a small demonstration of a drone Homemade was working on it himself, and in order to convince officials to embrace his project, the young Seljuk Bayrakdar told them that his MIT colleagues were working on models similar to US military projects.

As the video, which has been circulating heavily in recent years, shows, Turkish officials have watched with their own eyes - for the first time perhaps - the small plane of Birkadar taking off on its own and famous for its makeshift weapons before gently descending on the landing path and settling back into the hands of Bayrakdar, and yet it appears that Turkish officials were not very much convinced by the offer of the young man, who until that time was unknown to the power circles in Ankara despite being from a family with a lot of activity in the auto industry in Turkey.

Later, Selçuk presented a special scientific research at MIT containing an algorithm for landing a drone in very rough terrain and even vertically on the wall, but by 2007 the Turkish youth decided to cut his studies at the prestigious American Institute and return to Turkey to participate in the management of the family company Bayrakdar Makina, which is a company specialized in auto components, was established in 1984 as part of Turkey's efforts to manufacture cars locally, and after the company succeeded in winning a tender put forward by the Turkish army to manufacture a model for a small drone, Ankara finally ordered the manufacture of 19 units and deployed in The southeastern provinces.

Thanks to his new work with the army, Bayrakdar finally found the opportunity to test his new theories and models in the field, and he succeeded in convincing the generals to be with them in the field in order to take detailed notes on the type of technologies required for his aircraft, and by 2015 the young engineer had finally succeeded in making a successful presentation of the most advanced drones "Bayrakdar TP2", which attracted the attention of the Turkish army strongly after it succeeded during the performance tests in hitting a target at a distance of 8 km using a Turkish-made guided missile while flying at an altitude of 4 km, and in the same year, Bayrakdar gained a great personal step for Dee Turkish President after he married his youngest daughter Sumaya Erdogan.

The wedding of his son Erdogan "Somaya" from "Seljuk Bayrakdar" (networking sites)

In a short period, the new Bayrakdar aircraft became the backbone of the Turkish Air Force thanks to its relatively high technical capabilities. Today, Drones Bayrakdar can fly at an altitude of 24,000 feet (about 7.3 km) for up to 24 hours and has an average range of 15 km, With a capacity to carry a payload weighing 55 kilograms, and with this noticeable development in the local capabilities of the Drones, Ankara decided to rely on it as a major weapon in its fight against Kurdish organizations in the southeast and the borders with Iraq, and by June of last year 2019 the Bayrakdar planes were Turkish has achieved a number s Yasia has 100,000 hours of flying hours in less than four years, and according to Turkish media reports, the Drones participated in air strikes against Kurdish organizations in at least 11 provinces in southeast Turkey, and were used in five cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq, the most recent of which was Spring of Peace, last October.

With the great success of the plane, especially in the Turkish operations against the Kurds, Ankara decided to expand (7) the scope of the use of the Drones along the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, which caused successive frictions between Turkey and Cyprus and Greece on the other hand, where Athens complained in particular of That the Turkish Drones flew repeatedly over its islands in the Aegean Sea, while Cyprus has on more than one occasion complained about the Turkish Drones flying over the gas exploration ships that Turkey sent to explore the disputed waters between Cyprus and Greece, otherwise Turkey provided during the past year what Less than 12 m aircraft Bayrakdar N to the internationally recognized Libyan National Accord government to help it repel the attack by General Khalifa Haftar and his militia on Tripoli, while Ankara launched a determined effort to promote its drones to interested countries, particularly Qatar, Malaysia and Azerbaijan, before it actually succeeded. In signing a contract to export 12 sophisticated drones to Ukraine.

Thanks to these successes, the Druze gained great confidence and prestige within the army, and turned into a cultural icon outside it, to the extent that Erdogan himself was keen to take memorial photos with his country’s Druze and put his signature on each of them. And, they have become regular guests on the Turkish Druze barns to offer frequent praise and praise for the new icons of the Turkish military.

Erdogan takes memorial photos with Drones and places his signature on each other (Anatolia Agency)

As a result of this official and popular interest, the Drones program in Turkey has received a large boost (8) during the past two years, as the country's fleet of Bayrakdar planes has doubled from 32 aircraft in 2017 to nearly 94 aircraft before the end of last year, at least half of them are armed Drones. At the same time, the size of the ANKA fleet grew to at least 30 aircraft, turning the Drones into a cornerstone of at least six Turkish security and military organizations, namely the army, air force, navy, gendarmerie (military police), intelligence service, and the General Directorate of Security (Civil Police).

This prompted Ankara to create a special network of sites prepared to receive drones in the southeast of the country, and along its borders with Syria and its coasts on the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, and these sites were provided with the necessary equipment starting from the aircraft hangars to flight towers, and today the total number is estimated The Drones bases in Turkey have at least nine bases, and these facilities are absolutely necessary to operate the Turkish Drones fleet, given that the range of most Turkish drones does not exceed a hundred miles at the present time, and most of them depend on traditional communications systems and not on satellites.

However, the Turkish Drones boom was not limited to the increase in the number of drones and bases, but the Turkish Drones developers succeeded in achieving noticeable technical leaps in recent months. In August 2018, the ANKA planes carried out the first air raid controlled by satellite, In December of the same year, ANKA completed its first domestic engine trip, and in 2019 both Bayrakdar and ANKA broke their endurance records and flew each other for longer than 24 hours, and in the same year revealed a product Drones are the nation's two main drones "Perkdar McKenna" and the Space Industries Company The Turkish government has announced plans to manufacture HALE drones in the name of “Akinci” and “Axonghor” respectively, placing Turkey on the brink of possession of a new, more advanced generation of armed Drones.

third generation

The Akinci plane in particular is considered a very ambitious step in Turkey's huge project to produce drones, with a circumference of the plane from the wing to the wing is 20 meters, and the operating time exceeds 24 hours and a height exceeding 40 thousand feet (about 15 km), and a payload ranging from 450 to 900 kg, the ability to carry and launch long-range cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs, and other advanced equipment including advanced radar, a special system for electronic warfare and space communication systems, with all of that, "Axinci" will not only be the first long-range armed drills in the Turkish Drones fleet, but will make Bayrakdar TP2 and ANKA aircraft appear at headquarters Just with its primitive games.

In light of this, it was not surprising that the Turkish government attaches the utmost attention to the efforts of the "Perkdar Makena" company and the "Akinci" project in particular, an interest that appeared in the decision of the Turkish president last September to grant the company an exemption from export and VAT taxes. , As well as a grant of $ 120 million to create a new Drone Factory, with a clear goal (9) being the production of 36 Akinci aircraft over the next two years.

This massive and ambitious Turkish program to produce drones cannot be viewed in isolation from Ankara's broader efforts to establish a local defense industry

In order to achieve this huge goal, "Birkadar Makina" cooperates with the Ukrainian company "Ukrspecexport" to supply it with advanced turbocharged engines that Turkey is still unable to produce locally, with Kiev eventually obtaining 12 units of advanced aircraft after the completion of the production process, and it seems that the Officials in Ankara are very much watching the entry of the new aircraft, which is defined as a "ground-to-air drone fighter" and not a conventional drone. With the aircraft's advanced capabilities to carry bombs, guide them accurately, and launch missiles with a range of 600 km, it is likely that they will replace aircraft " F-16 " In Turkish operations against the PKK, it will also provide Ankara with low-cost air surveillance capabilities around the clock in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean regions.

With these great successes, it cannot be ignored to mention that this huge and ambitious Turkish program for producing drones cannot be viewed in isolation from Ankara's broader efforts to establish a reliable and domestic defense industry and its ambition to achieve self-sufficiency in arms, so Turkish defense industries projects Today it is not limited to the Drones, but it includes several (10) fields that start from vehicles and armored vehicles and pass through marine ships and do not end at airspace projects. In the field of marine industries, for example, Ankara established a number of mega projects, headed by "Istanbul Shipyard" and "Mubarak Marine Shipyard", and succeeded in securing billions of dollars in export contracts with Pakistan and Indonesia, while the "Sedef" company Shipbuilding "is building the first amphibious assault ship for the Turkish Navy, which is the first step in an ambitious project to establish a local aircraft carrier, while the prestigious defense company" Autocar "is carrying out a number of mega projects such as the manufacture of the" Altai "tank that has gained a good reputation in recent years, and the company is active" Aslsan "in the field of manufacturing electronics Aldfa Aya and exports its products to more than 60 countries around the world.

Turkey seeks to enhance its self-sufficiency and freedom from the hegemony of Western arms suppliers, especially the United States and Germany, which have rejected dozens of requests from Ankara.

By activating its domestic defense industry, Ankara aims to achieve several goals simultaneously, and as the prestigious Stratfor (11) Foundation for Intelligence Studies indicates, the first of these goals is to provide funds and stimulate economic growth for the country. With Turkey possessing the second largest military power in NATO, The country needs huge investments in military equipment, especially with its desire to get rid of old equipment dating back to the time of the Cold War. In this context, owning a developed local defense industry will save the burden of exorbitant bills for spending on foreign equipment and weapons, as well as its contribution to the development of the domestic industrial sector and the country's economy as a whole.

Besides, Turkey is also seeking to enhance its self-sufficiency and freedom from the hegemony of Western arms suppliers, especially the United States and Germany, which have rejected dozens of requests from Ankara for weapons during the past five years, which makes reducing dependence on foreign imports a vital goal for Ankara, and finally, Ankara wants to exploit Its arms exports as a way to enhance its presence in its geographical environment and present itself as a reliable ally of many partners within its broader plan to gain influence.

On the level of all these goals, it appears that Turkey's plan is paying off, even if it is according to a slower schedule than it aspired to, whether due to economic restrictions or the huge competition it received as a medium power seeking to storm adult councils, but in the field of drones in particular It seems that Ankara has succeeded in proving an attendance that cannot be ignored, and it can boast - and it will never be wrong about it - that it was one of the few powers that succeeded in breaking the US hegemony over the sky in the time of the deadly Druze.