Following the signing of a contract with TB2 maker Baykar, Kuwait has joined the long list of countries that have purchased the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 Unmanned Aerial Combat Vehicle (UCAV), known across the world for its cutting-edge capabilities and roaring combat success.
Turkish drone giant Baykar has reached an agreement with the Kuwaiti government to export Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) for $367 million, the Turkish company and the Kuwaiti army announced on June 13.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Baykar announced: “We have successfully completed the contract process with the Government of Kuwait on the export of domestically made Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs.”
Further, the official statement noted that the drone, which achieved a record by flying continuously for 27 hours and 3 minutes in challenging geographic and climatic conditions like high temperatures and sandstorms, will be on duty in Kuwaiti airspace.
However, both statements remained silent regarding the number of drones to be exported or the timing of the drone deliveries to Kuwait.
Although the combat success and incredible performance displayed by the TB2 UCAV in conflict zones like Syria, Nagorno-Karabakh, Ethiopia, and the ongoing Ukraine war has led to the drone’s popularity skyrocketing, Kuwait began negotiations for the drone as far back as in 2019, according to Daily Sabah.
According to Turkish media, Kuwait would be the 28th country in the world to conclude a contract for the Bayraktar TB2 drones.
Earlier, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan stated that international demand is huge for the TB2 and the newer Akinci drone. Despite the unveiling of the newer, bigger, and better TB3 drone earlier this year, TB2 continues to steal the limelight and has been attracting customers from around the world.
Kuveyt Devleti ile milli SİHA #BayraktarTB2 ihracatına dair yürüttüğümüz sözleşme sürecini başarıyla tamamladık.
— BAYKAR (@BaykarTech) June 13, 2023
Besides Kuwait, another Persian Gulf country showed interest in the Turkish drone. Reports from September last year indicated that discussions have been ongoing between UAE and Baykar for purchasing at least 120 TB2 drones, and the country had already received a batch of 20 drones.
The success of TB2 drones in the Nagorno-Karabakh war brought tremendous international attention to Turkey as it was the first time a full-fledged conflict between two nations (Armenia and Azerbaijan) was won, largely due to the effectiveness of drone warfare.
By now, the drone has proved its mettle in untraditional conflicts, as well as hybrid warfare, making it all the more appealing as the way of fighting shifts in modern times. Despite significant operational range restrictions by the insufficient number of ground stations and the TB2’s reliance on them rather than satellite communications, it is very likely to fulfill Kuwait’s security requirements and guard its airspace.
The Turkish drones have also significantly impacted the outcome of the wars in Syria and Libya in favor of Ankara’s foreign policy and security goals, further adding to the drone’s potency and popularity. The manufacturers claimed earlier that after the combat success in Ukraine, the world has become TB2’s customer.
TB2s In Ukraine
The success of the Turkish drones was widely reported in the media during the early phases of the conflict. Numerous footage showing Ukrainian drones decimating Russian advances on social media served as evidence of the raging success of these drones last summer.
They benefited from the element of surprise in the first few weeks and helped out on a few high-end missions. Among other successful counter-missions carried out by the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), the most significant was the sinking of the Russian flagship Moskva which was believed to have been aided by the TB2 drone.
In May last year, Selcuk Bayraktar, who runs the firm Baykar with his brother Haluk said, “Bayraktar TB2 is doing what it was supposed to do – taking out some of the most advanced anti-aircraft systems and advanced artillery systems and armored vehicles.”
The TB2, which has a 12-meter wingspan and a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet, assisted in undermining Russia’s overwhelming military advantage by dropping laser-guided armor-piercing bombs on tanks and artillery.
After initially being caught off-guard by Ukraine’s deployment of the TB2, Russian air defense units learned their way around and soon adapted to the Turkish weapon system. Many observers believed that Russia had improved the effectiveness of its layered air defense system after learning from its blunders.
Russia, on its part, has been making claims about decimating the Turkish drones ever since.
In April this year, the Russian commander of the Air Defense Force, Lieutenant-General Andrey Demin, and the deputy commander-in-chief of the Aerospace Force announced that more than 100 Bayraktar-TB drones provided to Ukraine had been destroyed during the Ukraine war.
Kyiv has only reportedly received 50 TB2 drones from Turkey. However, the exact number of TB2 drones received by Ukraine and those lost in combat could not be corroborated by EurAsian Times due to the contrary and often different claims made by both sides.
Russian media outlets drew attention to the paucity of up-to-date information about Bayraktar TB2’s combat operations in Ukraine from mid-August to late 2022.
Some reports even claimed that all TB2 drones had disappeared. However, it was learned that the claims were certainly not true after Ukraine downed one of its own TB2 drones last month.
Some Russian reports and bloggers also noted that the Turkish drone operations have not been as successful as in Libya, Syria, and especially during the Nagorno-Karabakh war. However, that has not prevented countries from buying Turkish drones, especially the Bayraktar TB2.
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