Turkey’s armed low-cost unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UAVs) that have proven their field capabilities are reshaping battlefields and geopolitics. Countries are using them to dominate within the region.
The drones were successfully used in several recent regional conflicts in which they were seen pinpointing and hunting down armored vehicles and air defense systems.
They were used for conflicts in Libya, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The drones were also found helpful in the fight against the terrorist group.
Even smaller militaries around the world are deploying Turkish drones against armored enemies.And they are proving to be an advantageous new battlefield tactic.
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The Introduction of Turkish drones have changed the War Scenes
The advent of Turkish drones have changed the dynamics of warfare and many countries are using them to get an edge within their region. These drones are intelligent and capable enough to hit strikes.
The Growing use of Turkish Drones around the Globe
The Turkish drones have wrecked air-defense systems, tanks, and other armored vehicles in wars in Syria, Libya, and Azerbaijan. And these drones point to future warfare being shaped as much by cheap but effective fighting vehicles as expensive ones with the most advanced technology.
During the virtual gathering of the Air and space power conference, Ben Wallace, Britain’s defense secretary, stressed the game-changing role of Turkish drones in modern warfare in the Middle East and North Africa.
He said, “We need to look at the lessons of others; look at how Turkey has been operating in Libya, where it has used Bayraktar TB2 UAVs since mid-2019”.
The Bayraktar TB2 is a tactical armed UAV system developed and manufactured by drone magnate Baykar Makina. According to owners, 160 bayraktar platforms are being put to use by Turkey, Qatar, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan.
The TB2 is lightly armed with four laser-guided missiles. Its radio-controlled apparatus limits its basic range to around 200 miles, roughly a fifth of the ground the MQ-9 can cover.
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The Bayraktar TB2 first made an international name itself in the Syria war early last year after the Turkish military launched operation spring shield in northern Syria, backed by electronic warfare systems, ground troops, and artillery and warplanes.
The reports also highlighted the role of drones in the Libyan civil war, which helped turn the tide in the conflict last spring.
Several reports showed that improved drone tactics honed in Syria provided the upper hand against Russian-made surface-to-air missiles systems known as pantsir, handling the Tripoli government aerial supremacy.
The steady Azerbaijani reclamation of occupied Nagorno-Karabakh saw a slew of articles denying that warfare had changed with the systematic use of drones in modern warfare.
Some experts have admitted that inexpensive Turkish drones are slicing through Armenian defenses. And the inclusion of Turkish drones in the Azerbaijani armory is proving to be a game-changing factor against the Armenian army.
But the rise of non-US drone warfare has been long in the making. In late February 2020, when 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in a ldlib airstrike, turkey quickly launched a five-day offensive in northern Syria that gave the TB2 unmanned drone its name.
In a radically new deployment of unmanned drones targeting armored forces, chemical weapons depots, and air defense platforms, they carried out hundreds of strikes claiming more than 2,500 Syrian regime fighters had been killed.
The ensuing victory halted the Syrian regime’s advance on Idlib and pressured Moscow into mediating a ceasefire.
Similar tactics were used by Azerbaijan in the opening salvos of the conflict, as it used its drones to methodically eliminate significant swathes of Armenian air defense installations, artillery, and tanks using a relatively small fleet of TB2 drones.
After 9/11, the US quickly established its dominance in drone warfare, launching its first strike in 2001. The sale of top-tier predator and Reaper drones is strictly regulated by military and congressional oversight.
Restrictions and the hefty price tag ( reaper drones cost nearly USD 12 million) have led some nations to turn to China’s CH-4. In Turkey, however, the new drone was on the rise.
In 2005, 26-year-old Selcuk Bayraktar, a doctoral student at MIT, presented a small homemade drone to a group of Turkish officials. After taking over his father’s engineering firm, originally founded in 1984, the company began to focus on unmanned drones.
By 2007, Bayraktar had quit his Ph.D. at MIT and returned to build drones full-time in Turkey. A few years later, his TB2 drone would surpass the Turkish aerospace industry’s TAI drone and completely replace the logic that it was better for the turkey to purchase them from the US instead of building their own.
The drones were game-changers, offering Turkish forces real-time intelligence on PKK terrorist cross-border moments. By 2019, Turkey had fielded more than 75 TB2 drones, flying over 6,000 hours a month.
Having seen use in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and against the PKK, only 8 years after its first flight, the affordable $5 million TB2 drones are used by Libya, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Qatar, Oman, and Pakistan.
For Traditional powers, this has prompted concern over the changing power dynamics worldwide. Turkey is one step closer to eliminating any foreign dependence on its defense industry by 2023.
Azerbaijan, however, presents an alternative to a protracted, dug-in conflict and hopes to restore its occupied lands.
Ukraine Used Drones against Russian Forces
The first reports of Ukraine using the Bayraktar TB2s against Russian forces since the invasion came on February 27, 2022. Ukrainian General Serhiy Shaptala shared video footage on Twitter of TB2 hitting a Russian bulk surface-to-air missile system.
Ukraine’s air force has since confirmed two drone strikes on Russian targets. Many more have been shared on social media; they have not been verified.
Turkish drones have been proved to be a game-changer in warfare around the globe. These drones have helped different countries to maintain peace within the region. The advanced technology unmanned vehicles are capable enough to put down tanks and air crafts from long ranges. The success of TB2 is urging many countries to get in the queue to get their hands on successful Turkish drones to strengthen their armed forces.