Saudi Arabia interested in Baykar armed drones from Turkey
Saudi Arabia is reportedly looking to purchase armed drones from Turkey, as announced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on March 16, Josh Spires reports on DroneDJ. However, Erdogan said: “Saudi Arabia is conducting joint exercises with Greece. Yet at the same time, Saudi Arabia is asking us for armed drones. Our hope is to solve this issue calmly without getting heated.”
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Turkish-made Baykar Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle at IDEF 2017 defense exhibition in Turkey (Picture source: Army Recognition)
The drones that Saudi Arabia is looking to purchase aren’t known at this stage, Josh Spires comments, but they will likely come from Turkish drone manufacturer Baykar Defence which currently produces four drones, two of them being surveillance drones and the other two having the ability to be armed.
One may assume the UAV model Saudi Arabia is interested in is the Bayraktar. In 2014, Bayraktar held the national endurance and altitude record for Turkey's unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). It set a record for autonomous flight endurance when it flew 24 hours and 34 minutes at 18,000 feet on 5 August 2014. It furthermore recorded the highest altitude of 27,030 feet on its flight on 14 June 2014 with full payload.
While the Turkish Armed Forces describe Bayraktar as a "Tactical UAV Class" to prevent it from being a competitor to the TAI Anka UAV, international standards would classify it as a medium-altitude long-endurance UAV. With its 650 kg MTOW and 12 meters wingspan platform powered by an internal combustion engine, Bayraktar is capable of flying at 22,500 feet and loitering for more than 24 hours.
It has a cruising speed of 70 knots with an operational flight altitude of 24.000 feet, 24 hours of flight time and a communication range of 150 km and has a 12-m wingspan, 650-kg maximum take-off weight and a 55-kg payload capacity. Prototype Development Phase started within 2007. Bayraktar Tactical UAS with its critical subsystems including flight control, INS-GPS, Automatic Take Off-Landing systems developed in-house demonstrated fully automatic taxi, take off, cruise, landing, parking phases in 2009 and was selected as the winner of the program. The final production stage officially started in 2012.
Baykar Bayraktar TB2 (Picture source: Baykar)