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Turkey’s Baykar launches new jet-powered drone, aiming for air-to-air combat

By:
Reuters
Updated: Dec 15, 2022, 17:06 GMT+00:00

By Omer Berberoglu ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish defence firm Baykar said its first jet-powered unmanned aerial combat vehicle (UCAV) completed its maiden flight on Wednesday, as the company continues to gain popularity globally, most recently by helping Ukraine's army fight Russian forces.

Turkey’s Baykar launches new jet-powered drone, aiming for air-to-air combat

By Omer Berberoglu

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish defence firm Baykar said its first jet-powered unmanned aerial combat vehicle (UCAV) completed its maiden flight on Wednesday, as the company continues to gain popularity globally, most recently by helping Ukraine’s army fight Russian forces.

Baykar released a video showing the Kizilelma (Golden Apple) UCAV taking off and then returning to an airbase which it said was in the northwestern Corlu province, 85 kilometers west of Istanbul.

Flightradar data also showed an unknown aircraft with a BYK07 call sign detected over Corlu Airport on Wednesday.

The company’s earlier Bayraktar TB2 drone has featured prominently in global conflicts, pushing Baykar into the global spotlight and transforming it into a major manufacturer and exporter.

International demand for Baykar’s propeller-driven drones soared after their impact in Syria, Ukraine, and Libya, where their laser-guided armor-piercing bombs helped repel an offensive by UAE-supported forces two years ago.

Selcuk Bayraktar, Baykar’s chief technology officer, said in the video that Kizilelma had successfully completed its maiden flight.

The UCAV will increase the top speed and carrying capacity of the existing drones in Turkey, which have also played a prominent role in conflicts in Libya and northern Iraq.

Turkey’s new drone powered by a jet-engine shows similar exterior features to fifth generation fighter jets. Baykar says in addition to conventional drone missions, Kizilelma will be able to conduct air-to-air engagements.

Malaysia and Indonesia had expressed interest in buying armed drones from Turkey, while 20 of them have been delivered to the United Arab Emirates.

Baykar is planning to complete the construction of its manufacturing plant in Ukraine, the only one outside of Turkey, in two years.

After it got removed from the F-35 fighter jet program, Turkey converted its vertical take-off aircraft carrier, which is still under construction into a drone carrier. The carrier will serve as a base for Kizilema and other drones in use by the Turkish military.

(Editing by Ali Kucukgocmen and Tomasz Janowski)

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