Small armies around the world are boosting their military capabilities with cheap, weapon-carrying drones. This new tactic of war proved its success in Karabakh and changed the strategic balance in the Turkey-Russia axis. Turkey-produced Low Cost Armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (SİHA) destroyed Russian-made armored vehicles and air defense systems in Russia-backed Syria, Libya and Armenia. This development underlines that the wars of the future will be shaped by the latest expensive weapon technologies as well as cheap but effective systems.
A LOW COST OPTION
These weapons, capable of performing operations alone or in groups, can surprise unsuspecting soldiers and armored vehicles on the ground. Before that, expensive warplanes were used for this work. Compared to conventional fighter jets such as the American F-16s, the SİHAs offer a great advantage in terms of production and operating costs. The fact that the pilots’ lives are not endangered is another important gain. Noting this advantage of drones and claiming that the low cost allows the military to take more risks, the president of the defense industry İsmail Demir says that it is normal to lose “one, two or even three” of these vehicles, “as long as they can set a target.”
BECOME WAR LIKE THE KALASHNIKOFS
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The United States and Israel have a long history of using highly advanced drones in their counterterrorism operations. However, they refrain from selling them even to their allies in order to maintain their military superiority. Although export barriers have started to be eased for countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after seeing that other manufacturers, especially China, are starting to fill the void, Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 has pioneered the revolution in armed drone technology. . Compared to the American MQ-9s, the TB2 can carry lighter weapons. In addition, its range is limited to 322 km, a fifth of that of the United States. But it has always proven to be useful and reliable. With its TB2 qualities, it is reminiscent of the Soviet AK-47 guns, called Kalashnikovs, which transformed the battlefields in the 20th century. Kalashnikovs were also widely used, as they were much cheaper and more reliable than their American counterparts.
BRITISH MINISTER SAYS ‘GAME CHANGER’
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Baykar manufacturing company was established in 1984 to produce auto parts. Qatar and Ukraine have purchased these systems. NATO member Poland signed the purchase of 24 TB2s last month. Other countries are also linked to this system. So much so that British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said last year of Turkish drone operations in Syria: “The results are game-changing.”
HOW BAYRAKTAR TB2 WAS BORN
TB2; The refusal of the United States and Israel to sell advanced models to Turkey is seen as the product of their dissatisfaction with the systems they sell and their desire to have domestic products in the fight against the terrorist organization PKK. Calling attention to this situation, Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank said, “These countries did not cooperate effectively with us, so we had to launch our own program. Turkey is now reaping the rewards of making the right decision at the right time, “he said. Bayraktar turned to this technology in the early 2000s. The prominent face of the company, Selçuk Bayraktar, is a name that was educated at the famous American university, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
FOR HOURS AND QUIET
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Baykar CEO Haluk Bayraktar said SİHAs and drones are looking for a beach where they can stay in the air for hours and avoid speed cameras, and once they find it, the rest look like falling dominoes. A dozen of these weapons can also be controlled as a group to simultaneously attack targets. This clear superiority in last year’s Azerbaijan-Armenia war drew attention to Turkey’s suppliers. The Canadian government has banned the sale of parts used in Bayraktar TB2 after pressure from the Armenian lobby. Baykar company officials said they have started using an alternative Turkish product to the camera that they cannot get from this country, that they have stepped up work to replace the motor with domestic solutions. and that they expect this to be completed by the end of the year.
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USED AGAINST RUSSIA IN UKRAINE
Ukraine signed a contract to receive TB2 in January 2019 and has received 6 so far. Kiev is also negotiating joint production. A Ukrainian company is also making the engine for Baykar’s latest new SİHA, which is bigger than the TB2. With this weapon, the country hopes to avoid a situation like the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014. Yuriy Mysyagin, vice-chairman of the defense committee of the Ukrainian parliament, affirms that these weapons dissuade Russia.
SYRIA WAS THE TURNING POINT
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The development that made the headlines for TB2 on the international stage was its performance in Syria in early 2020. Towards the end of February 2020, Russia-backed Assad forces were advancing towards Idlib, which was held by the Russian Federation. opposition supported by Turkey. After the airstrike in which 34 Turkish soldiers were killed, Turkey launched Operation Spring Shield and many targets were destroyed by the SİHA. The footage of the operation increased awareness of TB2.
SUCCESSFUL EXAMINATION IN LIBYA
Well-developed tactics in Syria were also used in Libya to destroy Russian-made Pantsir air defense systems last year, and air superiority shifted in favor of the UN-backed government in Tripoli with input from the United Nations. Turkey. Eventually, Haftar’s forces withdrew. Ankara sent ISIS to the region in 2019 to prevent Russia-backed Khalifa Haftar from targeting the capital Tripoli.
VICTORY OF KARABAKH
Turkish SİHAs have also helped Azerbaijan reclaim land held by Russian-backed Armenian forces for more than two decades in less than six weeks. Owned by Oryx Armenia, a blog that verifies destroyed equipment using photographic and video evidence; He said 106 tanks and 146 artillery batteries were destroyed by Turkish SİHA.
The export of SİHAs, which are used against Russian-backed forces on almost all fronts, worries Moscow. So much so that Russia, citing the corona cases as the reason, imposed a flight ban on Turkey. The US Wall Street Journal also said in its report that the Russian administration extended the flight ban for another three weeks with the decision it took this week. The Kremlin or the Russian Defense Ministry have not commented on this. Turkish officials, who have close energy cooperation with Moscow and buy advanced air defense systems from that country, say they don’t want a conflict with Russia.