Turkey’s unmanned ambitions shift up gear

Turkey is moving ahead with three different local unmanned aerial vehicles: Turkish Aerospace Industries’ Anka, Kale-Baykar’s Bayraktar (below) and Vestel Savunma’s Karayel.

Despite some false starts, Turkish aerospace engineers are moving ahead at full speed with new unmanned aerial vehicles, including the much anticipated Anka from Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) Shortly before parliamentary elections in 2011, several election campaign billboards of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) featured blue skies with unidentified aircraft, accompanied with the slogan: “Our aircraft is in the skies!”

“Our aircraft” was not in the skies by then, but was crash-landing during a series of flight tests. And “our aircraft” was the Anka, a drone Turkey was trying to indigenously develop and manufacture.  
Since then, local efforts have really sent the Anka to the skies, and now, more confident, Turkey’s defense planners have broader ambitions about unmanned systems. 

In an April 29 speech, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: “We have reached [a technological level] that we can produce unmanned aircraft.” 

A government official elaborated on the reasons for the prime minister’s enthusiasm about the aircraft: “Erdoğan views the Anka as his signature project in national defense modernization.” 

The Anka is a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) drone. Such UAVs can usually operate for 24 hours at an altitude of 10,000 feet. Anka, meaning Phoenix, is the first MALE-type UAV to be produced by Tusaş Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). 

Late last year, the Turkish government signed up with TAI for an order of 10 Ankas and ground stations. Under the deal, the first serial production deliveries will take place between 2016 and 2018.

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