The Turkish military is unveiling a new upgraded “unmanned combat aerial vehicle,” the Bayraktar Akıncı, developed by private drone manufacturer Baykar Defense, which is owned by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar. The Akıncı, which is Turkish for “raider,” is a more advanced version of Turkey’s iconic Bayraktar TB2, able to fly higher and stay in the air longer as well as carry more missiles. The TB2, developed in collaboration with another Turkish defense contractor, Roketsan, has been used by Ankara against Kurdish PKK guerillas in northern Iraq, and against Syrian regime forces in Idlib provice. Turkey is said to have 75 of the TB2 drones in its own fleet.
Ankara has also provided the TB2 to various foreign militaries; it is held to have been decisive in Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenian forces in last year’s Nagorno-Karabakh war, as well as the Libyan government’s victory over the warlord Khalifa Haftar. Ukraine, having already tested an initial dispatchment of the drone purchased two years ago, is now ordering 24 more for use in its war against Russian-backed separatists. Poland recently became the first EU member state to purchase the Turkish drone (AhvalNews, MEMO)
Another Turkish-manufactured drone, the Kargu, produced by STM company, One of these drones may have been used in the world’s first fully autonomous armed strike, in which artificial intelligence was used to “hunt down” targets. The March 2020 strike came in the context of the Tripoli government’s “Operation Peace Storm” against Haftar’s forces, which were then beseiging the city. A UN report on the strike issued this March found: “Logistics convoys and retreating HAF [Haftar-affiliated forces] were…hunted down and remotely engaged by the unmanned combat aerial vehicles or the lethal autonomous weapons systems such as the STM Kargu-2…and other loitering munitions.” (IFL Science)