Turkish game-changing unmanned combat system, called the Bayraktar TB2, has reached a major milestone and finished 300,000 hours of operational flight hours.
The Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat armed vehicle (UCAV) becoming the first locally developed aerial vehicle to achieve such an extensive flight time in the nation’s aviation history, the developer firm Baykar announced Monday.
Baykar’s chief technology officer (CTO) Selçuk Bayraktar shared a Twitter statement on the development, listing the missions that the Bayraktar TB2 has been a part of or will be a part of, including Turkey’s cross-border counterterrorism operations in Syria that targeted PKK and Daesh terrorists, retaliatory operations against regime attacks, namely Operation Euphrates Shield, Operation Olive Branch and Operation Spring Shield; Operation Claw that targeted terrorists in Iraq, along with the Eastern Mediterranean missions and internal security operations as well as the humanitarian aid missions.
Ismail Demir, the head of the Defense Industries Presidency (SSB), shared a statement via Twitter that read: “Our Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs, the supporter of the security forces in the skies, left behind 300,000 hours of flight freely in our skies. This pride is all of us.”
The drone initially entered the inventory of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in 2014 as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and then integrated with the ammunition, becoming a UCAV. It is currently used operationally by the TSK, Gendarmerie General Command, General Directorate of the Security and the National Intelligence Organization (MIT).
As noted by the company, Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs are produced with a record-breaking 93% of the parts manufactured indigenously. A total of 160 drones are in the inventories of four countries currently, which are Turkey, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Qatar.
Baykar, which, since the early 2000s, has been domestically developing software and hardware systems which are some of the top value-added systems in the field of unmanned vehicles is among the leaders in its field worldwide, with engineers in 13 different disciplines.
The Bayraktar TB2, which continued to be operated in the field, became a game-changer, as dubbed by several international experts as well, in time. Defense experts point out that Turkey’s success in counterterrorism operations in a shorter-than-expected time and with fewer casualties is because of such drones. The drones had a particular role during Operation Olive Branch conducted in neighboring Syria’s Afrin against the PKK and Daesh terrorists, conducting flights that surpassed some 90% of all its flights put together. It flew a total of 5,300 hours during the operation. It was also taking part in operations that targeted PKK terrorists’ so-called leaders who are wanted with a Red Notice.
The UCAVs which contributed to the success of the TSK by increasing their reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities in Operation Peace Spring, also successfully destroyed many targets during the operation. Finally, for the first time in Operation Spring Shield, it destroyed many armored vehicles from howitzers to Multiple Rocket Launchers (MRL) and Russian-made air defense systems.
During that operation, the drones were used as the primary element on the battlefield, raising worldwide interest.
Moreover, they escorted Turkey’s Fatih and Yavuz drilling ships during their missions in the Eastern Mediterranean in areas that fall under the country’s continental shelf. They were also deployed in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) for the same mission, flying there from Turkey’s southern coasts.
Bayraktar TB2 can carry four domestic smart ammunition MAM-L and MAM-C missiles produced by Roketsan on its wings. Its built-in laser target marker allows it to hit its target with precision. Turkey is among the six countries that can produce its drones and smart ammunition using domestic resources.