How Bayraktar TB2 has become one of the best drones in the world

This is particularly true when it comes to the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and their combat use. After the U.S embargo following Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1975 which caused the island to split into two governments, Turkey set its sights on the growth of the domestic defense industry. Over the past two decades, the investment in military hardware and drone technology has received a significant boost. At the time, Ankara’s drone program has morphed into a successful industry that’s already exporting products. It’s also a potent military force that’s further straining the NATO alliance. So, in this episode we are going to take you to see Turkey Tactical UAV “Bayraktar TB2” Just over a decade ago, the prototype of an unmanned aircraft that would become the Bayraktar TB2 took off for its maiden flight at Sinop Airport on the Black Sea. There were few signs then that the mid-sized, twin-boom aircraft would become Turkey’s first indigenously produced armed drone and the backbone of its unmanned air force. Talking about the Bayraktar TB2, it is a medium altitude and long-range tactical unmanned aerial vehicle system manufactured by Baykar Makina, for the Turkish Armed Forces. Bayraktar Tactical UAV was developed by Kale Baykar JV, a joint venture of Baykar Makina and the Kale Group. TB2 achieved the milestone of 200,000 operational flight hours in June 2020, becoming the first domestically built aerial vehicle in the country to reach the feat. Because of his prowess, Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones were heavily used in Ankara’s three operations to date against Kurdish-led forces in Syria, responsible for the killing of 449 individuals in one of them, amounting to a fifth of the officially declared fatalities. Four years on, Turkey’s security forces run a fleet of 86 armed TB2s and the country is a fast-emerging player in drone usage worldwide, a field that was dominated by the US and, to a lesser extent, the UK and Israel until three or four years ago. As the director of Drone Wars UK Chris Cole said: “What we are seeing is countries like Turkey becoming a major player in drone usage, which is, like the US, prepared to engage in targeted killing outside its own borders.” Now Let’s discuss the Bayraktar TB2 drone in detail. – The Development of Bayraktar TB2 In 2007, phase one development of the prototype Bayraktar Block A began and the first flight was made in June 2009. The contract for phase two development and serial production was signed between the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) and Kale-Baykar JV in December 2011. The second phase involving the development and serial production of Bayraktar Block B (TB2) commenced in January 2012. Bayraktar TB2 completed its first flight in April 2014. The first acceptance tests of the UAV were conducted in November 2014 and six UAVs were delivered to the Turkish Land Forces by 2014. While the second batch of six indigenous Bayraktar TB2 UAVs was handed over to the Turkish Land Forces in June 2015. Baykar developed and supplied six TB2 drones to Ukraine under an agreement which was signed between the two countries in January 2019 for the delivery of 12 TB2 UAVs for the Ukrainian Army. Three additional drones were delivered to the Turkish Gendarmerie in May 2020. – Design and Features Bayraktar TB2 features a monocoque design integrating an inverse V-tail structure. The fuselage is made of carbon fiber, Kevlar and hybrid composites, whereas the joint segments constitute precision computer numerical control machined aluminum parts. The engine is positioned between the tail booms and fuel is stored in bladder tanks. Each Bayraktar TB2 system consists of six aerial vehicles, two ground control stations, three ground data terminals, two remote video terminals and ground support equipment. In addition, The UAV has a length of 6.5m, wingspan of 12m and a maximum take-off weight of 650kg. – The Avionics and Payload The UAV is equipped with a triple-redundant avionics system. An onboard avionics suite encompasses units, including microcontroller, engine control, servo motor power control, engine signal processing and I/O and GPS receiver units. It also features a Pitot static sensor, laser altimeter and alpha-beta sensor modules, as well as speed, temperature and fuel level sensors. Bayraktar TB2 UAV has the capacity to carry a payload of 150kg and operate during day and night. For the standard payload configuration includes an electro-optical camera module, an infrared camera module, a laser designator, a laser range finder and a laser pointer. – Flight Control and Navigation The redundant flight control system allows autonomous taxi, take-off, navigation, landing and parking operations without assistance from any external sensor. Sensor fusion architecture using modern non-linear control techniques ensures good control and guidance of the UAV. The unmanned vehicle is also capable of employing semi-auto modes during missions. The last one about, – The Engine and Performance of Bayraktar TB2 The power plant integrates a 100hp internal combustion engine driving a two-bladed variable pitch propeller. The tactical UAV has a range of more than 150km and can fly at a maximum altitude of 27,030ft. It has a maximum speed up to 120 knots with endurance of 27 hours. In conclusion, beyond any doubt, the period between 2018 and early 2020 demonstrated how Turkey is becoming a drone (super)power. Further steps will lead toward (partial) elimination of some deficiencies observed in Syria, which will elevate Turkish UCAVs to a qualitatively new level. In military terms, Turkey has demonstrated its ability to successfully conduct high-tech military operations with the use of most up to date means of military confrontation. On the other hand, successful use of drones has become a symbol of national pride and Turkey’s moral and psychological victory. That said, the results of the recent operation should be critically reviewed by the Turkish side. Seemingly impressive as they are, the victory was primarily secured due to a combination of visible technological superiority, the element of surprise and very limited engagement of the Russian side with its advanced means of electronic warfare.

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