Turkey learns from China, yearns to become a UAV powerhouse.

after winning a series of victories on many battlefields last year, the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB-2 armed UAV has won many new export contracts in 2021.

Turkey’s armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has become a hot seller, after exemplifying its capabilities on the battlefield, Turkey even exported the TB-2 UAV for the first time. for European countries.

Poland became the first NATO member state to order a Turkish drone. The country has ordered 24 TB-2 UAVs equipped with anti-tank missiles. Polish Defense Minister Blaszak stated that the reason the country chose the TB-2 UAV was because it had proven its performance in combat.

Ukraine also purchased TB-2 for its navy, for patrolling the Black Sea. TB-2 is also the only new military aircraft, purchased by Ukraine within 30 years, which shows the importance of selling TB-2 unmanned aircraft to both countries.

Other European countries have also expressed interest in purchasing the TB-2 UAV, or other UAVs manufactured in Turkey. Shortly after Poland purchased the TB-2, Latvia, another NATO member state, indicated that it was interested in purchasing the UAV from Turkey. Albania has also allocated about $9.7 million to buy Turkish UAVs.

After Turkey’s TB-2 UAV achieved a very good record in three battlefields (Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh) last year, the interest of countries in TB-2 has increased day by day.

In February last year, Turkey used a large number of TB-2 UAVs for the first time in the conflict in Syria’s Idlib province, and used smart, precision-guided micro-munitions, to destroy ground forces. of the Syrian army and militia.

The TB-2 UAV deployed in Libya, also played an important role, enabling Turkey’s ally, the Government of National Unity of Libya (GNA) to repel the siege of the Libyan National Army. (LNA) and launch counterattacks.

TB-2 UAVs in Libya also successfully destroyed the Russian-made Pantsir-S1 air defense system, which is equipped by the Libyan National Army. Then, during the Nagorno-Karabakh War from September 27 to November 10, 2020, the Azerbaijani army used the TB-2 UAV to destroy Armenian ground forces.

Although the TB-2 UAV was also shot down in all three battlefields, but due to the cost of this type of UAV, which is cheaper than other UAVs in the international market, it can withstand a considerable loss rate. 

This view was made by the British Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace. He said that TB-2 and its accompanying weapons are relatively advanced and very cheap; that means military commanders, can withstand some UAV damage; at the same time can cause heavy damage to the opponent.

Price is certainly an important factor for Turkish UAVs to attract more customers. Ismail Demir, President of the Turkish defense industry emphasized the low cost of TB-2. He said that, if UAVs in other countries had similar capabilities to ours, the price would be at least double.

Demir’s statement is not exaggerated, the average price of a TB-2 is from 1 million to 2 USD, much lower than the MQ-9 Sea Guardian UAV, recently purchased by the British military from General Atomics; The unit price of this type of UAV is nearly 20 million USD.

Although Turkey hopes that its UAV can make it a “major exporter” of such weapons, due to the excellent combat performance of the TB-2 UAV in combat and its low price; but Turkey still has a long way to go, facing fierce competition with the US, China and Israel.

Compared to the US, China and Israel, Turkey is still only a “small” manufacturer in the international market for attack drones. Countries like the US and Israel export more UAVs and have more advanced technology than Turkey; and China as usual, prices are many times cheaper.

Because of the agreement to control UAVs, apart from a few close allies, the US has not yet sold armed drones to most countries. But this situation has begun to change. Under the Trump administration, the US has relaxed its policy of restricting the export of armed drones.

China has succeeded in significantly expanding the export market for its armed drones, even selling UAVs to the UAE and other US allies. Russia is also starting to break into the UAV market, but it will probably be a few years.

The US recently signed a major contract with the UAE, to sell 18 MQ-9 Reaper drones. In the near future, Washington may also sell its advanced armed drones, to multiple countries.

However, Turkey can still open up a significant market for its drone exports, by continuously improving the performance of the drones and reducing costs.

Especially for those countries that have a need, but cannot afford to buy more advanced US UAVs, and Turkish UAVs are a suitable choice both in terms of quality and price compared to US UAVs. America and China. 

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