Turkey’s Bayraktar TB3 Drone Breaks Flight Endurance Record; Achieves ‘Remarkable’ 32 Hour, 5700 Km Flight

Turkish drone manufacturer Baykar has announced that its cutting-edge Bayraktar TB3 drone carried out an impressive 32-hour flight during recent testing, thereby establishing a new flight endurance record within the Bayraktar UAV or Bayraktar UCAV family. 

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On December 21, the company posted a video on X (formerly Twitter), revealing that the 13th flight test, named the “Endurance Flight Test,” for the Bayraktar TB3 Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) lasted for a remarkable 32 hours. 

The drone has been specifically crafted to fulfill the crucial role as the primary uncrewed platform for the Turkish Navy’s innovative ‘drone carrier,’ TCG Anadolu. 

Furthermore, the company disclosed that, during the flight test, the TB3 covered a distance of 5700 km. Based on the footage released by the company, it appears that the flight commenced on December 19 at 9:15 a.m. and concluded on December 20 at 5:15 p.m. 

The timeline underscores the sustained operational performance of the TB3 drone over a continuous period, further reinforcing its commendable endurance capabilities.

This also showcased an endurance level surpassing the typical range observed in most Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) class Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs), typically spanning 24 to 27 hours.

As reported by Turkish media, the test took place at the Çorlu Flight Training and Test Center, which is located in northwest Turkey. Nonetheless, the Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV), equipped with a locally developed PD-170 engine by TEI, set a new record within the Baykar Defense UAV family.  

Previously, the expected flight endurance for the TB-3 was stated as 24 hours, while its predecessor, the TB2 drone, was noted for an endurance of 27 hours and 3 minutes. 

Thus, the latest accomplishment of the TB-3 in achieving a 32-hour flight during testing signifies a notable extension beyond its initially stated endurance and showcases advancements in the drone’s capabilities. 

Bayraktar TB3 Drone 

In a major leap forward for Turkish naval capabilities, the TB3 drone, a cutting-edge Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV), is designed to operate from the Turkish Navy’s amphibious assault ship, TCG Anadolu.  

The drone, marking a substantial advancement from its predecessor TB2, offers enhanced flight endurance, striking capabilities, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) functions.

The TB3 carried out its flight for the first time on October 27. Powered by a 172-horsepower PD170 engine, the TB3 drone boasts a versatile armament configuration. 

Featuring a wingspan measuring 14 meters and a length of 8.35 meters, the TB3 supports a maximum takeoff weight of 1,450 kilograms and a payload capacity of 280 kilograms. This signifies a notable augmentation compared to the specifications of its predecessor, the TB2. 

With six hardpoints positioned beneath its foldable wings, the drone is capable of carrying a diverse array of munitions. This includes precision weaponry such as laser-guided rockets, anti-infantry bomblets, and formidable anti-tank missiles.  

Selçuk Bayraktar pictures beside TB3 at&nbsp;the Çorlu Flight Training and Test Center, October 27. <em>Baykar</em>
Selçuk Bayraktar pictures beside TB3 at the Çorlu Flight Training and Test Center, October 27. Baykar

Beyond its striking capabilities, the TB3 is built to excel in intelligence gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. It is equipped with advanced beyond-line-of-sight communications capabilities. 

This feature enables the drone to maintain seamless connectivity and communication over extensive distances, particularly beneficial when operating across vast ocean expanses. Its modular design also positions it as an ideal communications relay platform. 

The TB3’s short takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities allow deployment on aircraft carriers and large-deck amphibious assault ships. This capability extends its operational reach to small, remote airstrips ashore, offering Turkish forces flexibility during land-based operations. 

Baykar anticipates full mass production of the TB3 to commence in 2024, with deployment aboard the TCG Anadolu expected in the same year. Meanwhile, TCG Anadolu, delivered to the Turkish Navy in May 2023, will play a pivotal role in this vision. 

File Image: TB-3 Drone

Configured as a landing helicopter dock (LHD), the ship features a large flight deck with a ski-jump and a well deck at the rear, which enables the transport of various military assets, including tanks, amphibious assault vehicles, armored personnel carriers, and landing craft for amphibious assault operations. 

In addition to its focus on the TB3, Baykar is actively engaged in the development of a fighter-like drone known as Kizilelma. Having conducted its inaugural flight in December 2022, Kizilelma is on track for production commencement next year.