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While the Russian-Ukraine war has been devastating, it has proved that drones have a place in the world today and in the future.
If you’ve followed the news about the war, you must have seen the videos of Ukrainian drones destroying Russia’s ground war artillery. It turns out, Ukraine got these drones from Turkey.
I know not all videos online should be trusted, but there’s enough evidence that the Turkish drones have had some impact on the war.
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Partnership Between Turkey and Ukraine:
For the longest time, drones in wars have always been associated with the United States. But as drone technology becomes more accessible, more countries are acquiring drones to empower their air defense.
And one of the countries fast-growing to become drone power is Turkey.
The drone used by Ukraine is a Turkish drone known as the Bayraktar TB2.
In the last decade, Ukraine has bought at least 20 TB2s, and in 2021, Ukraine also announced that they are partnering with Turkey to build a drone factory and manufacture some next-gen drones.
However, while these drones are from Turkey, they use parts imported from the US and Canada.
Ukraine is also planning to send engines and tech for use in future drones such as the Bayraktar Avinci, the TF-X, MIUS, and the T929 helicopter.
The TB2 seems like a better option for most countries because it’s cheaper.
At $2 Million, that’s a meager cost compared to the US Reaper drone, which costs $32 Million. While the TB2’s features are no match for the Reaper, they are still a viable option.
About The Bayraktar TB2 Drones:
For starters, the TB2 is a MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) defenseless, armed tactical UAV designed primarily for reconnaissance, surveilling, data collection, and attack missions.
Baykar is the company behind this drone. Other features include;
- Fully autonomous flight and navigation.
- 27 hours endurance
- Speed – 70 to 120 knots (80 to 140MPH)
- Max Altitude – 27,000 feet
- Payload – 150 Kg
- Fuel – Gasoline
- Weapons – 4 smart Laser-guided munitions
- Wingspan – 39 feet
Launched in 2014, the Bayraktar TB2 drones have been actively used by the Turkish Armed forces, Turkish National Police, and Gendarmerie forces.
However, it’s also one of the first drones that Turkey has exported abroad since they have been instrumental in most places where other armies face off against Russia, such as Libya, Karabakh, and Syria.
The Impact of the TB2 Drones on the Russia-Ukraine War:
As I mentioned earlier, the TB2 is defenseless. Emphasis on the word defenseless. Another feature to note is the maximum speed of 138 MPH.
As you can see, you wouldn’t call them stealth drones since, at that speed, they can be detected by radar. As Lauren Kahn, a drone warfare specialist, notes, these drones wouldn’t be that effective if Russia were to deploy its full air defense power.
But for some reason, they have been effective in attacks and reconnaissance missions.
As David A. Deptula notes, Russian Forces didn’t show their full scope of force at the beginning of the invasion. And when they decided to display strength, Ukraine had started taking over some of their airspace with drones and destroying some of their air defense systems before they could get to the air.
David A Deptula is a US retired three-star General who was an instrumental air campaigns strategist in the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the Afghan war in the 2000s.
According to Mauro Gilli, an international security researcher at ETH Zurich, Russia has effectively shot down Turkish drones in the past, such as in Libya.
But as many warfare specialists have confirmed, Russia didn’t advance in this war like they do in their other campaigns, which may explain why Ukraine may seem to have the upper hand thanks to the TB2 drones and other excellent strategies.
But that doesn’t mean that Ukraine has won this war either, there’s still time for Russia to show its full force, and all we can do is wait to see how the drones will fair then.
Impact of Use of Turkish Drones in Ukraine on the Turkey-Russia Relationship:
Another issue that arises from Turkish drones’ excellence in Ukraine is that they could savor the relationship between Turkey and Russia.
Turkey and Russia aren’t practically enemies, but supporting their enemy, Ukraine, could probably change that.
But numerous issues are at play here. Foremost, several countries have placed sanctions against Russia, so Turkey and Russia doing business during the sanctions wouldn’t be ideal.
And if Russia manages to over-power Ukraine, Turkey may not continue the partnership they had with the previous regime.
Russia overpowering Ukraine could slow down the production of any other drones by Turkey since, as we mentioned earlier, they are working together on other drone projects. But Turkey could always get other suppliers.
And if Ukraine manages to win this war, we can expect to see more drones, and they will probably solidify their position as a significant drone producer.
Is The Bayraktar TB2 Drone a Game Changer in Drone Warfare?
The TB2 clearly has some impact in drone warfare, but not really a game-changer.
There are many other powerful drones, and we have seen TB2 drones overpowered even by older defense systems, not forgetting that Russia is developing their Orion drone, a drone rumored to be more powerful and a direct competitor to the TB2.
But we can’t ignore the fact that a “standard” drone is playing a significant role in a war.
And there you have it. Drones have once again proven that they can be useful in a warzone.
However, with drones like the TB2, you need proper planning to bypass multilayered defense systems. Also, by using the TB2s alongside other defense systems, the TB2s can still be deployed effectively.
Also, considering the relatively lower cost, having the TB2 as part of your air defense is a plus since it also minimizes the number of casualties in case it is shot down.