Selçuk Bayraktar, the architect of Turkey’s first indigenously developed TB2 Bayraktar drone, flew over Baku during Teknofest Azerbaijan — the first foreign edition of Turkish aviation, space, and technology festival — in a Mikoyan MiG-29 belonging to Azerbaijani Air Force.
Bayrkatar, who is the Chief Technology Officer of Baykar performed the flight with the deputy commander of the Azerbaijani Air Combat Forces, Air Pilot Col. Zaur Rustamov. The flight lasted for about 60 minutes and was conducted in formation with TB2’s successor, the Akinci combat drone, developed by Baykar.
Bayraktar himself commanded the MiG-29 during maneuvers and part of the formation flight reported the Daily Sabah. Akıncı is also scheduled to perform a flight at the Teknofest.
Selçuk Bayraktar – A Technological Savant Of Turkey
Selçuk Bayraktar is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA. In 2005, he attempted to convince an assembled group of observers at a remote airstrip surrounded by cornfields that Turkey could become a great drone power.
“Turkey can be number one in the world in five years,” he had asserted.
Bayraktar provided his observers with a demonstration of his small drones, taking off and landing on a small runway, and asked them to invest in his vision.
By 2011, a design team assembled by Bayraktar produced the Bayraktar Caliran 1, or TB1 which got selected over other design competitors for procurement by the Turkish military and served as a prototype for the operational production model, Bayraktyar 2, or TB2, that first took to skies in August 2014.
Ever since, the TB2s have become a central pillar of Turkish efforts to reshape warfare and shift the outcome of regional conflicts in favor of Ankara’s foreign and security interests, such as in the case of the Azerbaijan-Armenia war in 2020.
TB2 Drones Ensured Azerbaijan’s Victory
TB2 drones played a pivotal role in Azerbaijan winning the 44-day war against Armenia in 2020 over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
TB2 drones obliterated a huge number of Armenian tanks, fighting vehicles, artillery units, and air defenses. Their penetration into Nagorno-Karabakh’s rear also weakened Armenian supply lines and logistics, enabling the eventual Azerbaijani success in battle.
“Thanks to advanced Turkish drones owned by the Azerbaijan military, our casualties on the front shrunk,” said Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev in a televised interview with the Turkish news channel TRT Haber.
On April 1, 2021, Selçuk Bayraktar was awarded the ‘Karabakh Order’ by President Aliyev in commemoration of the vital role played by TB2s.
The success of TB2 drones in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict put them into the international spotlight, as it was unprecedented in the history of modern warfare that a full-fledged conventional war between two countries was won almost entirely based on the strength of drone warfare.
Likewise, the Turkish-made drones have decisively influenced the outcome on the battlefields of Syria, Libya, and now Ukraine, where the TB2 has been instrumental in the Ukrainian military’s resistance against invading Russian forces.
TB2s Instrumental In Ukraine’s Resistance
Since the onset of the Ukraine war, social media is abuzz with videos showing Russian tanks, air defense systems, helicopters, supply trucks, and trains being knocked out by TB-2 strikes or TB2-assisted artillery strikes.
Furthermore, the TB2 reportedly played a key role in the destruction of the Russian warship Moskva in April. Ukraine claimed that it fired anti-ship missiles at the Moskva after the ship was ‘distracted’ by a TB2 drone.
Apart from that, the Ukrainian forces have also used the TB2 for striking Russian targets at the occupied Snake Island, mainly the Russian air defense systems including Tor surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, ZU-23-2 gun emplacements, and SA-13 Strela-10 infrared SAMs.
Ukraine's Bayraktar TB2 UCAV strike hitting a Russian Tor SAM system on the Zmiinyi Island. pic.twitter.com/FOUIiWWMtg
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A TB2 was also apparently used in the attack in late April, on two oil depots in Bryansk, Russia. The Bryansk strike was remarkable since Ukraine’s military was able to bring the war inside Russian territory, thereby embarrassing Russian air defenses.
The Bayraktar TB2s have now attained an iconic status due to the Ukraine war, as the name ‘Bayraktar’ has become a part of the folklore of Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion.
The Ukrainians have even composed a folk song about the TB2 drones, probably one of the first songs ever written about a combat drone.