Turkey Signs ‘Massive Deal’ On Sale Of Bayraktar TB2 Drones To 16 Countries – Developer

Turkey has concluded contracts to sell domestically produced Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) to 16 countries and signed the first export contract for the Bayraktar Akinci UCAVs, the CEO of the Turkish Baykar technology company said on Sunday.

“Bayraktar TB2 have successfully completed 420,000 hours, and purchase contracts for them have been concluded with 16 countries. Apart from that, the first export contract was signed regarding the Bayraktar Akinci combat UAV. Supplies under the contract are planned for 2023,” Haluk Bayraktar said.

The official highlighted increased demand for Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs.

Earlier, Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey Vasyl Bodnar said the construction of a plant for manufacturing Turkey’s Bayraktar drones in Ukraine may be completed by the end of 2022.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry confirmed earlier plans to launch a joint Ukrainian-Turkish production of Bayraktar drones. The Turkish manufacturer said it was ready to invest its own funds in the construction of a plant in Ukraine and to hire local specialists as staff.

“We are talking about months, not years… the relevant contracts and agreements are already being drafted to start the construction of this plant. The company [Bayraktar] already purchased a land plot, and a Ukrainian company was created as a branch of Baykar Makina. Currently, work is underway to obtain licenses, permits… to facilitate the launch of the production. I cannot tell the exact year or date the drones themselves will be produced, but the construction will not take long… I hope we will see the foundations of the plant by the end of 2022,” Bodnar said on air of Ukraine’s Radio NV.

Ukraine-TB2 drone
A Ukrainian TB2 drone, armed with precision-guided weapons.

In September last year, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and Turkish Bayraktar signed a memorandum on the construction of a joint center for the maintenance and modernization of unmanned aerial vehicles near Kiev.

Haluk Bayraktar, chief executive of a private Turkish drone maker Baykar, said his firm was ready to sell its newly developed attack drones Akinci to Ukraine as it struggles for control of the restive eastern provinces.

The Ukrainian defense ministry signed a deal with Baykar in 2019 to procure Bayraktar TB2 military drones. Ukrainian troops used the Turkish armed drone to attack rebels in the breakaway east for the first time last month.

Bayraktar told the Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform in an interview that a number of countries wanted to buy the more advanced Akinci. He said export contacts with several of them were in the pipeline.

Asked whether Ukraine was among the potential buyers, Bayraktar said he was convinced that Akinci could become another addition to Ukraine’s strategic arsenal and that “we will soon see it flying in the Ukrainian skies.”

F-16 Fighter Jets

Also on Sunday, the Turkish defense minister said that talks between Ankara and Washington on supplies of the F-16 fighter jets were positive.

“Official requests for supply and modernization of new F-16s were made. After that, a delegation went to the US, and the negotiations were positive. We made our position clear. [We] explained that this would also help strengthen NATO. If Turkey is strong, it is strong in NATO. Turkey’s strength is NATO’s strength,” Hulusi Akar said, as quoted by the Turkish Milliyet newspaper.

File Image: A Norwegian F-16AM. (Wikimedia Commons)

On Thursday, the CNN-Turk broadcaster citing US sources reported that Washington might approve Turkey’s request for buying F-16 aircraft to strengthen allied nations in the Black Sea region.

Earlier, as EurAsian Times reported, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had stated that Turkish and US officials will meet to discuss F-35 jets in the nearest future adding that preparations for the meeting are underway.

“Negotiations with the United States on the F-35 are ongoing. In the coming days, a meeting will be held in the United States to discuss the F-35 issue, preparations are underway,” Akar said as quoted by the Turkish Anadolu news agency.

Akar added that the purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems, as a result of which Turkey was removed from the F-35 program, was a necessity, not a choice. On January 3, Akar said that Turkey and the United States would discuss the F-35 multirole fighter jet program during a meeting in Washington in early 2022.

In 2019, the US suspended Turkey’s participation in its F-35 program over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system and later completely removed it from the project. In October, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Washington invited Ankara to buy F-16 fighter jets as a return for its investment in the F-35 program.