|Turkish Air Force Bayraktar TB2|
|Role||Unmanned combat aerial vehicle|
|First flight||August 2014|
|Primary users||Turkish Air Force|
|Developed from||Bayraktar TB1|
The Bayraktar TB2 is a Turkish medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations. It is manufactured by Turkey's Baykar company primarily for the Turkish Armed Forces. The aircraft is monitored and controlled by an aircrew in the Ground Control Station, including weapons employment, via Türksat satellite. Bayraktar means "ensign" or "standard-bearer" in Turkish. The development of the UAV has been largely credited to Selçuk Bayraktar, a former MIT graduate student, and son-in-law of President Erdogan.
The aircraft previously relied on imported and regulated components and technologies such as the engines (manufactured by Rotax in Austria) and optoelectronics (FLIR sensors imported from Wescam in Canada or Hensoldt from Germany). Engines exports were halted when Bombardier, owner of Rotax, became aware of the military use of their recreational aircraft engines. In October 2020 Canadian WESCAM (optics and sensors) exports were restricted by the Canadian Foreign Ministry. At the same time local FLIR integration tests started with Aselsan's CATS FLIR system on 6 November 2020.
Bayraktar drones have been praised for their achievements by Turkish and non-Turkish authorities. British Defense Minister Ben Wallace and American political science author Francis Fukuyama praised the platform and its systems. Moreover, along with other Turkish UAVs such as Anka, Bayraktar TB2 is named among the aircraft which had most hits of Russian-made tanks, with hit counts comparable to those of A-10 Thunderbolt and AH-64 Apache, given the vehicle's extensive use in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh conflicts.
Baykar started to develop a new combat tactical aerial vehicle system on request of Presidency of Defense Industries, after the experiences of its first tactical UAV Bayraktar Çaldıran delivered to the Turkish army in 2011. The Bayraktar TB2 conducted its maiden flight in August 2014. On 18 December 2015, a video was published for the missile test of Bayraktar TB2 as collaboration result with ROKETSAN. Roketsan's MAM (Smart Micro Munition)'s and TUBITAK-SAGE BOZOK Laser-guided bombs tested for the first time.
According to British newspaper The Guardian, the arming of the Bayraktar TB2 would not have been possible without the help of UK based technology, namely the Hornet micro-munitions bomb rack invented, developed, designed and patented by EDO MBM Technology Ltd, Brighton in the UK. The bomb rack was provided to Turkey in 2015, and a variant of it was integrated onto the aircraft by the UK company and Roketsan. In response to The Guardian newspaper, Baykar Chief Technical Officer Selcuk Bayraktar denied that the bomb rack came from the UK. "We are not buying it from you, we never did. It not only does not work under any circumstances but is also very expensive," Bayraktar said on Twitter. "We have designed and manufactured a more advanced and cost-effective one ourselves." This denial appears to be intended to obscure the facts from the Turkish public.
On 19 August 2020 the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) disclosed details of a six-year history of exports of the Hornet bomb rack to Turkey between 2014 and 2020 suggesting that supply of the critical technology to Turkey had continued well beyond the development stage of the Bayraktar TB2 and right up to the publication of the Guardian story in November 2019. "There were 18 Standard Individual Export Licence (SIEL) applications submitted by EDO MBM Technology between 2014–2020 for exports of goods 'related to Hornet Bomb Racks / Hornet Missile Launchers' to Turkey where the proposed exports were for end-users in Turkey. Of these, 16 licences were granted, and 2 applications were stopped."
Baykar signed a deal with Qatar in March 2018 to manufacture six drones for the Qatari forces. In January 2018, Baykar signed an agreement with Ukrspetsproject on the purchase of 12 Turkish Bayraktar TB2 and 3 ground control stations worth US$69 million for the Ukrainian army. Ukraine received the first batch of UAVs in March 2019.
In October 2020 the use of the Canadian Wescam CMX-15D system in the drone was disclosed after Armenian officials claimed that remains of a CMX-15D system had been recovered from a downed TB2 drone during the nation's conflict with Azerbaijan. That triggered the stopping of CMX-15D exports to Turkey while an investigation by Global Affairs Canada evaluates the use of Canadian technology in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Turkey selected the Common Aperture Targeting System (CATS) from Aselsan as a replacement for Canadian CMX-15D.
Turkish military use TB-2 gained prominence in counterinsurgency operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and People's Protection Units (YPG) militants positions across the border in Iraq and Syria. Turkey considered PKK and YPG as terrorist organizations.
On 15 August 2018, Turkish Land Forces successfully used Bayraktar TB2 in a joint cross-border operation of the Turkish Armed Forces and the National Intelligence Organization of Turkey to kill the senior (PKK) leader and board member of the Kurdistan Communities Union İsmail Özden in Sinjar District, northwestern Iraq.
Turkish military used combined UAV and artillery tactics in Syria against the PKK-linked YPG. According to Turkey the number of militant killed or wounded, ascended to 449 by use of armed TB2 and 680 were indirectly in operations assisted by air support from the UAV.
In June 2019, international news media reported that the Libyan UN recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) used Bayraktar TB2s to strike an airbase held by General Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA). Despite the UN embargo on Libya's ongoing civil war, it is suspected that at least 3 Bayraktar TB2 UCAV were being used over Tripoli by the GNA government forces. On 6 June 2019, two GNA Bayraktar TB2 drones are destroyed along a operation room by LNA attacks on Mitiga Airport. Video evidence shows at-least one Bayraktar TB2 flying over Tripoli about to land at Mitiga's Military section, under control of GNA-allied forces.
- In December 2019 the LNA shot down two Turkish TB2 UAVs in Ain Zarah, near Tripoli.
- On 25 February 2020 LNA forces shot down two TB2 drones in 24 hours.
- On 31 March 2020 the Libyan National Army shot down another Turkish made Bayraktar TB2 combat drone near the Libyan city of Tripoli.
- On 17 April 2020, a Turkish Bayraktar TB2 Drone shot down near Bani Walid.
- In the third week of May 2020, Libyan National Army's Pantsir missile system reportedly shot down two of the Government of National Accord's Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 combat drones, one near Tarhuna city and the another near Jebel Sherif.
- By 1 July 2020, a total of 16 Bayraktar TB2 drones were reported shot down or lost on Libya during six months of fighting and 23 were reported lost since LNA offensive in Western Libya that begun on April 2019.
- On 11 March 2021, A US correspondent Jeff Jaworski wrote that a total of 47 Bayraktar drones were destroyed by LNA defenses mainly Pantsir-S missile systems, in turn 9 Pantsir-S were destroyed by Bayraktar drones.
But only a total of 16 Bayraktar TB2's and 23 Pantsir S1's have been visually proven to be destroyed
On March 2020 Bayraktar TB2s, Anka-S UAVs, and an array of Koral electronic jammers were deployed and extensively used in coordinated action to strike Syrian Army targets on the ground during the Operation Spring Shield launched by Turkey following losses the Turkish forces incurred at the hands of the Russian forces in northwestern Syria at the end February 2020. The deployment was assessed by experts to be a success and a tactical game-changer.
During the week of fighting, Turkish drones took out 73 Syrian armed vehicles. Russian sources said that the Russian-backed Syrian air defences claimed the destruction of seven Bayraktar TB2 UAVs by 5 March 2020. However, there is only visual evidence for three Bayraktar drones being shot down.
Azerbaijan and 2020 Nagorno Karabakh war
In June 2020, the Defence Minister of Azerbaijan, Zakir Hasanov, announced that Azerbaijan had taken the decision to purchase Bayraktar drones from Turkey. During the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, Bayraktar TB2s were used against Armed Forces of Armenia with great success. Azerbaijan used TB-2 to destroy Armenian artillery, infantry positions and military vehicles including BM-30 Smerch MLRS, T-72s tanks, BMP-1 and BMP-2 IFVs. Several Osa, Strela-10 and 5 S-300 air defense systems were also destroyed by TB2s. On 19 October 2020, a Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2s was shot down by air defenses of the Armenian Army over the skies of Nagorno Karabakh. On 8 November 2020, another Azerbaijani Bayraktar TB2 was shot down by air defense on southeastern Nagorno Karabakh. After learning that their products were used on Bayraktar TB2 drones, Hampshire-based UK aircraft component manufacturer Andair announced halting supply and cancelling all orders from Baykar Makina on 11 January 2021. The British manufacturer became the latest company to stop selling equipment to Turkey after its components were found in drones shot down during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In which the Turkish government announced to instead locally produce the component that Andair boycotted
The Bayraktar TB2 has destroyed a (visually proven) 535 enemy targets in the Nagorno-Karabakh war, marking it the most proven UAV system in the world
As a part of its military modernization program Armed Forces of Ukraine acquired 12 Bayraktar TB2s in 2019. After the successful use of the aircraft the Ukrainian Navy had ordered a separate order composed of 5 additional Bayraktar TB2s. According to the statement made by the naval officials the additional aircraft were delivered within 2020. Meanwhile, Turkish and Ukrainian officials have announced the establishment of a joint venture to produce 48 additional Bayraktar TB2s in Ukraine.
Following the increasing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, a Bayraktar TB2 conducted a reconnaissance flight on 9 April 2021, over the Donbas region. This was the first operationalization of the aircraft by the Ukrainian Forces within an active conflict zone.
In February 2021, chairman of the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) Ismail Demir made public a new type of UAV being developed by Baykar that is planned to be stationed to Turkey's first amphibious assault ship, TCG Anadolu. The new aircraft being developed is a naval version of the Bayraktar TB2 equipped with a local engine developed by TEI. According to the initial plans the ship was expected to be equipped with F-35B fighter jets but following the removal of Turkey from the procurement program, the vessel got into a modification process to be able to accommodate UAVs. Mr. Demir stated that between 30 and 50 folding-winged Bayraktar TB3 UAVs will be able to land and take off using the deck of Anadolu.
- Polish Armed Forces – 24 drones have been ordered. First batch of aircraft will be delivered in 2022.
- Turkish Land Forces – 110 operational
- Gendarmerie General Command – 18 units used by Elazig Gendarmerie UAV command
- General Directorate of Security – Under Aviation Department. 6 TB-2 entered the inventory in 2016 and 6 TB-2S entered the inventory in 2019 with MAM (Smart Micro Munition)
- Turkish National Intelligence Organization – Uses TB-2 since 2015
- Turkish Naval Forces – 6 TCB TB-2
- In October 2020, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic identified UAVs as "expensive but smart investments" and stated their interest on acquiring Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 armed drones.
- On 27 November 2020, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti claims that Kazakhstan would be interested in purchasing TB2 drones at the expense of Chinese drones after seeing their successful use during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War
- Royal Moroccan Air Force – Allegedly 13 drones have been intented to buy, but no contract has been signed as of so far
Specifications (Bayraktar TB2)
Data from official Baykar Defence website.
- Crew: 0 onboard, 3 per one ground control station
- Length: 6.5 m (21 ft)
- Wing Span: 12 m (39 ft)
- Max Take Off Weight: 650 kg (1,430 lb)
- Payload: 150 kg (330 lb)
- Powerplant: 1 x 100 Hp Internal Combustion Engine with Injection
- Fuel Capacity: 300 litres (79 US gal)
- Fuel Type: Gasoline
- Maximum Speed: 120 knots (220 km/h)
- Cruise Speed: 70 knots (130 km/h)
- Range: 150 km (81 nmi)
- Communication Range: Line-of-sight propagation
- Service Ceiling: 27,000 feet (8,200 m)
- Operational altitude: 18,000 feet (5,500 m)
- Endurance: 27 hours
- L-UMTAS (Long Range Anti tank Missile System)
- MAM: MAM-C and MAM-L precision-guided munitions
- Roketsan Cirit (70 mm Missile System)
- TUBITAK-SAGE BOZOK Laser Guided Rockets
- TUBITAK-SAGE TOGAN Air-to-surface launched 81 mm mortar munition
- TUBITAK-SAGE KUZGUN Modular joint ammunition KUZGUN-TjM Turkish: TjM :Turbojet Motorlu Turbojet engine variant with range of 245 kilometers and KUZGUN-SS Turkish: SS: Serbest Süzülen Free Soaring variant range of 110 kilometers variants in use
- Interchangeable EO/IR/LD imaging and targeting sensor systems or Multi Mode AESA Radar:
Bayraktar TB2 at Teknofest 2019.
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era
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- Media related to Bayraktar TB2 at Wikimedia Commons
- Turkey breaks national record for longest drone flight
- Baykar Aerospace Industries
- Baykar Research Activities Documentary Video
- Bayraktar Block B Technical Brochure
- Bayraktar Block B Preliminary Design Review Documentary / May 2012
- Bayraktar Block B Maiden Flight / 29 April 2014
- Bayraktar Block B Endurance Record Flight / 05-6 August 2014
- Bayraktar Block B Altitude Record Flight / 14 June 2014