Chinese army media praises rapid progress of Turkish drone maker, defense industry
Baykar's UAVs experience sales boom in recent years, selling drones to nearly 20 countries, says PLA Daily report
By Emre Aytekin
BEIJING (AA) — Turkish drone-maker Baykar has made rapid advances thanks to the progress of the Turkish defense industry, which surged ahead using indigenous resources, the Chinese army’s media outlet said.
In a full-page story, the PLA Daily covered the Istanbul-based Baykar's milestones, which last week inked the largest export deal in Türkiye's history with Saudi Arabia.
It noted that Türkiye boasted powerful defensive capabilities in the past but that its dependence on foreign arms and other hardware had increased after World War II.
The new model of unmanned warfare that emerged in the 1990s opened new opportunities in the defense field, it added.
As one of the defense companies established in Türkiye during this period, Baykar made significant strides in the development of unmanned flight systems despite its short history of 20 years.
Türkiye announced plan to develop domestic UAV systems in the 2000s and encouraged private enterprises to work in the field, the PLA Daily said.
This call was heeded by Baykar's founder and aviation enthusiast Ozdemir Bayraktar, who, seeking to contribute to the Turkish industry, raised his son, Selcuk, to lead Baykar's technology research.
Selcuk Bayraktar graduated from Istanbul Technical University and educated in the field of UAV technologies in the US, the story said, adding that he completed his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2007.
Highlighting his accomplishment of assembling a youthful team of thousands of engineers and experts spanning 13 distinct fields at Baykar, the story emphasized that the armed UAVs developed by Baykar have significantly bolstered Türkiye's counter-terrorism endeavors.
Pointing to the performance of the Bayraktar TB-2 during recent conflicts as a UAV used for both reconnaissance and attack, the report highlighted that the drone proved to be not only effective against tanks but also posed a significant challenge to conventional air systems.
Baykar later upgraded the TB-2 and developed the Akinci unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), rooted in the principles of simplicity, user-friendliness, and robustness, spanning from design and production to flight control. This endeavor has led to the emergence of one of the premier heavy UAVs on the market, boasting a wingspan of up to 20 meters (over 65 feet) and a take-off weight exceeding 5 tons, the article highlighted.
Referencing Türkiye's recently launched warship, the Anadolu, the article noted that Baykar is also conducting tests of its new unmanned fighter jet, Kizilelma, which holds the distinction of being the sole such aircraft capable of carrier-based landings on a warship.
The article also underscored the significant role played by Baykar's UAVs in the aftermath of the earthquakes that struck Türkiye in February 2023.
Operating for over 1,500 hours over the disaster zone, the UAVs diligently relayed up-to-date data to rescue teams, aiding in damage assessment and facilitating the coordination of search and rescue operations, the report further stated.
Pointing out that Baykar's UAVs, which have shown superior performance on and off the battlefield, have experienced a sales boom in recent years, the article said the drones have been sold to nearly 20 countries.
*Writing by Gokhan Ergocun from Istanbul
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