At the Teknofest exhibition in Baku, where two heavy UAVs Bayraktar Akıncı recently flew, technical director and co-owner of Baykar Selcuk Bayraktar answered several questions from the reporter of Reuters. Of course, they also talked about Ukraine.
“Bayraktar TB2 is doing what it was supposed to do – taking out some of the most advanced anti-aircraft systems and advanced artillery systems and armoured vehicles,” Selcuk said beside the new Akinci drone. “The whole world is a customer.”
Baykar, founded in the 1980s by Bayraktar’s father, Ozdemir Bayraktar, began to focus on unmanned aircraft in 2005 as Turkey sought to strengthen its local defence industry.
The TB2 has been such a factor in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh as well as Ukraine that it now spearheads Turkey’s global defence export push.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says international demand is huge for the TB2 and the newer Akinci. Selcuk Bayraktar said Baykar can produce 200 TB2 drones a year.
Selcuk Bayraktar said he was proud that the drones had been used in Nagorno-Karabakh territory in 2020, and in Ukraine in 2022.
“It is an illegal invasion so TB2 is helping the honourable people of Ukraine defend their country,” he said.
“The illegal occupation of Karabakh was like a heart wound since our youth. And as engineers developing the technology, it is an honour to have helped our brothers and sisters here to regain their land.”
As for Laser weapons against Turkish drones, Russia recently boasted, Selcuk Bayraktar is very sceptical. “Their ranges are limited so if your sensory and munition range is longer, they are not going to be effective,” he said.
Baykar is currently working on the Bayraktar TB3 drone, a marine version of the TB2 that has folding wings and can take off and land on aircraft carriers with a short runway. In addition, the latest jet drone Kizilelma is under development.
“Inshallah, the first flight of Kizilelma will be next year, and TB3 either by the end of this year or the beginning of next year,” Selcuk Bayraktar says.
“If you look at the longer time horizon, we are working on taxi drones – for that we need to develop more higher-level autonomy technology – which is AI basically – but it will revolutionise how people will be transported in cities,” says Bayraktar.
Civilian drones don’t really fit in with Baykar’s current image, but it will be a return to the company’s original profile. In any case, we Ukrainians are now more interested in Baykar combat drones.