Recent Developments in Turkish UAV Programs

Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) that have been used by Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) mainly for Internal Security Operations and Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) to obtain imagery intelligence; have become one of the most important striking powers of Turkish Armed Forces  (TAF) in missions carried out under Fight Against Terrorism Operations both within and beyond Turkey’s borders against PKK, PYD/YPG and ISIS terrorist organizations soon after BAYRAKTAR TB2-S (Armed) Offensive Tactical UAV equipped with a pair of Roketsan’s MAM-L Smart Munitions (SAL guided free-fall micro munition without rocket engine) has become operational in late August 2o16.

Following their induction into service within nearly two months, more than 70 terrorists were neutralized only in Hakkari province with a pair of (second air vehicle become operational during the second half of October) operational with BAYRAKTAR TB2-S Armed Tactical UAV. When the number of terrorists neutralized by air assaults performed by Air Forces Command and by artillery fires of Land Forces Command with the support of existing UAV Systems (Heron/GÖZCÜ-I, ANKA Blok-A, BAYRAKTAR TB2 and KARAYEL UAV) that are deployed and in operational use in different regions of the country are added, this figure will reach to more than 300.

As a country under threat and constant attack from multiple terrorist organizations, Turkey has decided to take a more pro-active measure to fight these organizations and UAVs are taking increasing role in Turkey’s new strategy. Realizing the importance of UAVs and Armed UAVs, Turkey has speed up its procurement programmes to enrich its UAV inventory, especially the number of Armed UAVs.

 

ANKA MALE UAV

Two of the ANKA Blok-A MALE Class UAVs, developed and manufactured by TAI were deployed with the required ground segment elements upon the request of Turkish Land Forces Command at Elazığ in January 2016. The first operational flight was successfully performed on 5 February 2016. ANKA Blok-A UAVs with tail number 11-003 and 12-004 (deployed on 25 March 2016) carried out more than 100 sorties within 6-month period. One of the air vehicles experienced a crash landing on October 69, 2016. As of March 2017 only one air vehicle is operational at Elazığ but the number will soon be increased to five with the deployment of four further ANKA UAVs of which at least one of them will in armed configuration. Since no leasing agreement (free of charge) is signed regarding the deployment of ANKA Blok-A UAV in Elazığ, the flights in Elazığ is supported by TAI’s own resources.  

The acceptance of ANKA MALE UAV System in Blok-B configuration was successfully completed on 10-14 October 2016 at Sivrihisar Airport Base Command under the supervision of SSM Acceptance Committee. The accepted aircraft in Blok-B configuration is equipped with a winglet due to the requirement of +240kg payload and 24 hours of endurance.

On the other hand, two (+3 optional) ANKA Blok-B UAV Systems (with three air vehicles in each) have been ordered for the Turkish National Police (EGM) Directorate of Aviation Office and one ANKA Block-B UAV System with three air vehicles has been ordered for the Prime Ministry. The ordered ANKA Block-Bs are currently under production at TAI facilities and deliveries will start in 2017. The air vehicles of the Turkish National Police will be equipped with Aselsan’s CATS HD Electro-Optical (EO/IR) Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Targeting System and Wide Area Surveillance System (to be deployed in a18-inches stabilized turret/gimbal)’s, which is being developed by ESEN System under a R&D contract. 

Within the scope of ANKA-S Program of the Turkish air Force (TurAF), where the deliveries (3 System and 10 air vehicles) are planned to be made in three batches as: 2+4+4. The first system with two air vehicles (equipped with StarSAFIRE® 380-HLD FLIR payload) and satellite control (SatCom) capability and related ground systems is scheduled to be delivered in the first quarter of 2017 and the second system with four air vehicles and the related ground systems are planned to be delivered in the last quarter of 2017. The armed version of ANKA UAV has performed its first flight on March 7, 2017.

 

Land Forces Command & BAYRAKTAR TB2 Tactical UAV System

Two Tactical Class BAYRAKTAR TB2 UAV Systems, comprising of 12 air vehicles and related ground segment systems were procured under a contract signed on 20 December 2011 to improve the reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence capabilites of the Turkish Land Forces Command (TLFC). Located at Batman Air base they are operational since December 2015.    

Each BAYRAKTAR TB2 Tactical UAV [TİHA] System includes; six air vehicles, two Ground Control Stations, two Generators, two FLIR payloads [GosHawk-II HDT with Laser Designator], three Ground Data Terminals, two Remote Video Terminals and Ground Support Equipment.  Also there are two Simulators with training purposes.

While 1.000 flight hours were passed on 9 December 2015 with 12 BAYRAKTAR TB2 UAVs flown by the TLFC, 5.000 flight hours on 22 July 2016, 6.000 on 15 August 2016, 7.000 on 6 September 2016 and 8.000 flight hours were completed on 18 September 2016. Since four Ground Control Stations have been procured under the contract, the maximum number of BAYRAKTAR TB2 UAVs [the number of ready to use FLIR payload is also important] that can be flown at the same time will be four. 

On the other hand, in addition to the two existing BAYRAKTAR TB2 Tactical UAV Systems in TLFC service, a procurement contract for the third system (six UAV and related ground systems) was signed between the SSM and Main Contractor Baykar Makina, on 26 July 2016. According to the information we gathered, the acceptance activities for the 3rd BAYRAKTAR TB2 UAV System is planned to be performed until June 2017.

 

Turkish National Police & BAYRAKTAR TB2

Two BAYRAKTAR TB2 Tactical UAV Systems [each with three air vehicles and related ground systems] have been procured for the Aviation Department of the Turkish National Police (EGM) under a contract signed between SSM and Baykar Makina on 15 October 2015. Testing and acceptance procedures of the 1st System (three air vehicles, one Ground Control Station and related ground systems) were completed on 9 June 2016 and the System was deployed in city Van. 1st BAYRAKTAR TB2 UAV System of the EGM became operational on 16 June 2016. The delivery of the 2nd BAYRAKTAR TB2 Tactical UAV System was completed within September 2016. Air vehicles are believed to be equipped with StarSAFIRE® 380-HD FLIR payload.

 

BAYRAKTAR TB2 UAVss for the Gendarmerie General Command 

For Gendarmerie General Command (GGC), two BAYRAKTAR TB2 TİHA Systems [each with six air vehicles and related ground systems], have been procured by the SSM and deliveries completed in March 2017. Two of six air vehicles that deployed at Elazığ province are in armed configuration (TB2-S). 

 

BAYRAKTAR TB2-S Armed Tactical UAV System

For the procurement of four BAYRAKTAR TB2-S Armed Tactical UAV Systems (16 UAVs in total and related ground systems), each comprising of four aircrafts under Armed UAV Project, a contract was signed between SSM and Baykar Makina on May 13, 2016. 

BAYRAKTAR TB2-S (Silahlı/Armed) Armed UAV; can carry two Roketsan’s MAM-L or four (two in each wings) MAM-C Guided Munitions (under development and scheduled to be ready for use in 2017). Under the contract, the first two Systems comprising of eight BAYRAKTAR TB2-S UAVs was scheduled to be delivered to the TLFC on 17 October 2017, but Baykar makina brought this date forward and started deliveries in march 2017. The second batch containing two BAYRAKTAR TB2-S Systems is planned to be delivered on 17 June 2018. First of the prototype air vehicles [at least two] that have been deployed at Batman Air Base since 2016 June, become operational in late August and the second during the second half of October 2016. 

BAYRAKTAR TB2 Tactical UAV [TIHA] and TB2-S Armed Tactical UAV are actively used both within and also beyond Turkey’s borders [against PKK, PYD/YPG and ISIS targets in the northern Iraq and Syria].

 

KARAYEL Tactical UAV Development Project

KARAYEL Tactical UAV Development Contract was signed between the SSM and Vestel Defence Industry in January 2011 and entered into force in March 2011 was terminated by SSM on 24 June 2016 on the ground that ‘the obligation of presenting the product for acceptance in required conditions is not fulfilled’ due to the fact that KARAYEL Tactical UAV, which is developed with domestic capabilities under the project and used in operational missions since October 2015 on the basis of 24 hours under the signed leased service contract, could not meet the requirements included in the technical specification regarding taking off from the catapult and landing with parachute. The Contract having a worth of US$36,8 Million includes; six air vehicles, three Ground Control Stations, five Ground Data Terminals, four UGTs and four FLIR payloads (L-3 Wescam’s 3rd generation MX-15HDi FLIR System) and C-Band Data Link System. Under the lease contract six KARAYEL Tactical UAVs are in use and during last one year 2.500 flight hours have been passed.

 

Switchblade Kamikaze Drone/Armed Miniature UAS for ÖzKK

In order to meet urgent requirement of the Turkish General Staff’s Special Forces Command (OzKK), SSM plans to procure 24 Switchblade Kamikaze Drone/Armed Miniature UAS. In this context the Letter of Request (LoR) has been prepared and sent to the US Government and Letter of Acceptance from he US Government is awaited. The Switchblade is a portable lethal drone/miniature killer drone, designed to provide the combatants with a back-packable, non-line-of-sight precision strike solution with minimal collateral effects.

 

Fixed and Rotary Wing Mini UAV Systems

29 of the 39 Fixed Wing Mini UAV systems required by the TLFC, and one of the 4 Rotary Wing Mini UAV systems (two Malazgirt-E with electric engine and two Malazgirt-B with petrol engine) were delivered. The five additional Mini UAV Systems are planned to be delivered within February 2017 and the remaining five Mini UAV Systems to be delivered to the TLFC in June 2017. In December 2016 Aselsan secured a US$33,862 Million contract from STM for the delivery of 499 Rotatry Wing Mini UAV Systems to meet TAF requirement. According to the MoND 2015 Activity Report, 637 Rotary Wing Micro UAV systems as well as one system of Rotary Wing Tactical UAV will be procured to fulfill TAF requirements.

 

Nano UAV Procurement Project

In October 2016 SSM announced that it would take bids for two new types of UAVs which are not exist in the TAF and Security Forces (EGM and GGC) inventories: Multi-Rotor Type Strike Drones and Nano/Micro Drones. In this context SSM issued a Request for Information (RFI) on 14 October 2016 for these programmes. Contenders are asked to obtain the RFI document from SSM by October 24, 2016 and should submit their responses by November 9 and November 30, 2016 respectively.

According to the MoND 2015 Activity Report, 637 Rotary Wing Micro UAV Systems will be procured to fulfill TAF requirements  

 

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