Turkey’s TB2 UAV has delivered a very impressive performance during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War. The TB2 has destroyed large numbers of Russian armored vehicles on the Ukrainian Battlefield.
However, due to its own performance limitations, many of these drones were directly shot down by Russian Air Defense Systems.
The TB-2 is a small medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned combat aerial vehicle designed and produced by Baykar. Compared with the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper of USA and the Wing Loong UAV of China, the TB-2 is very much lightweight. In addition of performing reconnaissance missions the drone also have a good ability to strike enemy targets.
But because the size of the TB-2 is very small, it is not able to carry a large number of weapons, which limits its strike capability.
Recently, Turkey has announced that it has started mass production of the latest version of smart micro munitions for the TB-2 UAV. This smart weapon is specially designed and produced for use on UAVs. So what is special about this new weapon?
Currently, the TB-2 UAV has four hardpoints and its payload capacity is only 150 kg (330 lb). Although it sounds like 150 kg is very less but because the weight of anti-tank missiles is generally light so based on the maximum takeoff capacity of 150 kilograms, 4 anti-tank missiles can be carried at one time. Turkey has plans to increase the payload capacity of TB-2 to a limit of 700 kg, this load capacity is still very acceptable.
Turkey wanted to expand the capabilities of TB-2 drones, so the MAM family of weapons came out into existence. The full form of “MAM” Mini Akıllı Mühimmat (MAM), meaning “smart micro munition“. The MAM family is not an anti-tank missile such as the American Hellfire, which is mainly used on surveillance and combat strike drones. The MAM family is actually a class of precision guided bombs.
The MAM family is mainly divided into three different types on the basis of weight, range and other technical specifications. The three different versions are as follows – MAM-C, MAM-L and MAM-T. The MAM-C is the most lightweight version in this family. This bomb is only 70 mm in diameter and 970 mm in length, which is very much similar in size to a common anti-tank rocket launcher. It has the weight of only 6.5 kilograms and a attack range of 8 kilometres.
Although it may not good for attacking Main Battle Tanks, but the MAM-C has enough firepower to destroy enemy lightly armored vehicles such as Armoured Personal Carriers and Infantry Fighting Vehicles. The bomb has a semi-active laser seeker and is equipped with multi-purpose warheads, such as traditional fragmentation warheads as well as incendiary, high explosive blast fragmentation and armor-piercing rounds.
Talking about the next version of the MAM family, we have the MAM-L smart bomb, it has a much larger size and increased range as compared to MAM-C. The diameter of the bomb has increased to 160 mm, and the length is basically unchanged to about one meter. The total weight has increased to 22 kg, but compared to air-launched anti-tank missiles, this weight is relatively light.
The attack range has also been increased to 15 kilometers, and the seeker is also laser-guided. In order to destroy enemy main battle tank, the MAM-L has a tandem warhead (which is effective against reactive armor) also in addition to the High Explosive Blast Fragmentation warhead, it has also got a thermobaric warhead which can destroy almost all tanks from the top.
According to Turkey, this kind of ammunition is a laser-guided bomb evolved on the basis of the previous L-UMATS tank missile, but the launch weight of L-UMATS reaches 37.5 kg, and MAM-L is only about half of it. The price is also significantly lower than that of anti-tank missiles, which is a relatively cheap offensive weapon.
Now talking about the last and final version of the MAM family, we have the MAM-T Smart Bomb. The bomb has the increased diameter of 230mm, increased length of 1.4 meters and increased weight of 94kg.
When carried by drones it has the range of more than 30 kilometers and when carried by fighter jets it has the increased range of more than 80 kilometres. The bomb has got the guidance of semi-active laser and GPS/INS navigation system. The MAM-T is available only in one type of warhead – High Explosive Blast Fragmentation.
Although from our current point of view, Turkey’s TB2 UAV is not as good as it is imagined, but considering that turkey is a developing country in the field of military drones as compared to countries like the United States and China, and the size and weight of the TB-2 UAV is not very big, still having such good performance is really remarkable and impressive.
Not only has turkey continued to develop the TB-3 UAV, but it has even developed various special micro-munitions for these UAVs. Moreover, the extensive use of TB2 UAVs in Ukraine this time has indeed provided Turkey with considerable experience in upgrading these aircraft or developing new UAVs and ammunition.
Turkey has perfected drones and related munitions, which will make it easier to sell such good drones to other countries. Therefore, although we say that the traditional UAV power is the United States, Turkey has taken a different approach and has become a great power in the field of military drones.