How Turkey’s Bayraktar combat drone became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance

The war in Ukraine has made the Turkish drone Bayraktar TB2 a symbol of resistance against the Russian army and a success for the Turkish arms industry.

The war in Ukraine has created an unexpected hero. The soldiers even dedicated a song to him that became a hit among the entire population, soldiers and civilians. It is neither the ghost of kyiv, this legendary aviator, nor Wali, the “best sniper in the world”, but a drone, a Turkish drone. Its name, Bayraktar TB2. It is neither the most advanced nor the most elegant, but it is efficient and offers unbeatable value for money.

The device is made Baykar Makinaa company run by Selçuk Bayraktar, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

It offers an autonomy of more than 20 hours, travels at 250 km/h, flies at an altitude of 6800 meters and covers a range of 150 km2. It can carry 4 laser-guided missiles. Its “list” price would be around 4 million dollars, but it would be sold for half as much. According to FortuneUkraine would pay him only one million dollars.

A song that went viral

On social networks, Ukrainian forces broadcast videos showing how a single drone can immobilize a column of Russian armor by sending a missile at the lead tank and another at the one that brings up the rear. In two shots, a whole regiment is immobilized and exposed to open ground. And that, without losing a single fighter, which explains why he became the emblem of the resistance against the Russian invasion.

In addition to this song, which has gone viral among the population, the mayor of the capital, Vitaly Klitschko, gave the name Bayraktar to a lemur born in the kyiv zoo. This communication operation obviously targets Russia for which this cheap drone is becoming the nightmare of its army.

Ukraine currently has 34 Bayraktar TB2s, 16 of which were delivered at the start of hostilities. kyiv would be Baykar Makina’s first export customer to date, but already many countries are showing interest in this radio-controlled drone, which experts still consider too heavy, too slow, does not fly high enough and low-cost.

A commercial success for Turkey

However, this symbol of Ukrainian defense is gradually becoming that of the Turkish arms industry. According to The world, the Bayraktar TB2 are now selling like hot cakes. After Qatar, Ethiopia and Morocco, orders have been placed by Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Poland. Latvia is under discussion. In 2020, even the United Kingdom was considering buying them before signing on for the SkyGuardian drones from the American General Atomics.

This success even led 27 members of the American Congress to suspend the sale of components to the Turkish company whose drones “destabilize the world and threaten American interests”.

In France, the message launched by the Bayraktar is gaining ground. In a column published in AtlanticoMP Fabien Gouttefarde (LREM) and Thierry Berthier, expert in artificial intelligence, call for inspiration from the Turkish model.

“Short R&D and innovation cycles would allow us to develop what we lack. Such as a Bayraktar TB2 type attack drone at a reduced unit cost (ideally less than five million euros per unit) and the development of less than 24 months”, estimate the two signatories.

This message seems to be a response to European industrialists and politicians. The Eurodrone project, the MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) drone, is progressing slowly and will only equip the French, German, Spanish and Italian armies in 2029. France, however, had in its boxes the nEUROn, a model designed by Dassault, which has reached the demonstrator stage without going any further. We asked Dassault if the nEUROn project could be revived. The question remained unanswered.

In the meantime, Turkish industry is getting ahead. On its site, Baykar announces the TB3 version of its drone and the entry into production ofan unmanned fighter plane.

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How Turkey’s Bayraktar combat drone became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance


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