Turkey has continued to expand its deadly drone capabilities, according to a new report that reveals an increase in the export and use of unmanned aerial vehicles in a number of recent conflicts.
The Drone Proliferation Update 2021 issued today by campaign group Drone Wars details the expanding use and supply of unmanned aerial vehicles by Turkey in military conflicts, including in Nagorno-Karabakh.
And in a new and somewhat unexpected development on Monday, the commander of the Ukrainian navy, Oleksiy Neizhpapa, announced that Kiev is set to be supplied with hardware from Ankara.
“Ukraine will use Turkish drones at sea and on land,” he said.
Kiev is said to have been impressed by the effectiveness of Turkish drones in Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabkh.
Turkey’s TB2 Bayraktar drones helped tip the balance in Azerbaijan’s favour there against Ankara’s longstanding foe Armenia in the recent six-week war in Nagorno-Karabkh which ended in November’s ceasefire agreement.
Its destructive force allowed Azeri forces to gain the upper hand against Armenia, which has historically had a superior military capability when fighting a ground war.
Photographs seen by the Morning Star, which are reported to be from the battlefield, show how British components have been used to fuel Turkey’s drone capabilities.
The images appear to show two fuel pumps supplied by Andair precision aircraft components and a bomb rack marked Bayraktar TB-2 bearing an Azeri flag made by Edo MBM Technologies, which is based in Brighton.
It adds support to the claims by Kurdish organisations that have repeatedly insisted that British military technology is being used in a genocide campaign being waged against them by Turkey.
Ankara insists that the use of drones helps it to wage wars quickly and effectively — its air force claimed that drone strikes killed some 1,129 people in the first few months of Operation Olive Branch, Turkey’s illegal invasion of northern Syria, which started in January 2018.
While it continues to insist that those “eliminated” during its bombing missions are terrorists, this catch-all phrase is deployed loosely by Turkey to describe all Kurds, including civilians.
Turkey is accused of using drones in a series of targeted killings outside its borders, including air strikes last summer that killed three women from the Kongreya Star organisation in the Kurdish enclave known as Rojava.
Turkey has long sought to develop the ability to build its own drone capability to carry out operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) without relying on US technology.
It wasn’t until December 2015 that the Bayraktar TB2 drone, developed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law Selcuk Bayraktar, successfully fired its first missile.
In order to fire its deadly load, the drones needed the Hornet bomb rack developed by EDO MBM and described as “the intelligent hand” that ensures targets are hit.
The TB2 has become a source of national pride and is said to have limited the movements of the PKK.
06 January 2021 | Steve Sweeney, Morning Star