ANKA Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV System provides the Turkish Army with a long-endurance and persistent ISR capability. (Turkish Aerospace Industries)
ANKARA — Turkey will add satcom capabilities to the Anka, the country’s first indigenously built UAV, according to a top procurement official.
Murad Bayar, head of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, said the Anka’s design would evolve over time after consultations with the Air Force about what modification or additions might be needed.
“The most critical modification from the original design will be the satcom capability, which we have decided to add to the aircraft,” Bayar said.
A procurement source familiar with the program said that satcom is considered to be an ideal solution for UAV operations.
“We have come to the conclusion that satcom would be a critical enabler of UAV operations,” he said. “It will enable extended-range data capture and transfer. A kind of multiplier, in a way.”
Bayar said the country’s engine parts manufacturer, Turkish Engine Industries (TEI), has been tasked with developing an engine for the Anka after Chinese group Avic International’s acquisition of Thielert, a bankrupt German maker of diesel engines for aircraft and the supplier of engines for the Anka.
Avic has said it plans to fold Thielert into its Continental Motors division and is giving up military business. Deliveries have stopped, the state-run Chinese company announced in August.
Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), which developed the Anka, had ordered the Centurion engine for a batch of 10 aircraft, but now must look elsewhere.
“We are not concerned” about delays due to the engine problem, Bayar said. “TEI’s research and development program for an engine could be a solution. Alternatively, we could consider an engine like [the German] Rotax, or modify an existing automobile engine for the Anka.”
Bayar said that SSM would sign a contract for the acquisition of an initial batch of 10 Ankas “very soon.”
The Anka passed acceptance tests late in January. The final, decisive tests on Jan. 20-21 involved a full endurance, 18-hour flight, successful auto landing, data link performance at a distance of 200 kilometers under winds up to 45 knots, and night take-offs and landings. The Anka has completed more than 150 flight hours.
The Anka is a medium-altitude, long-endurance drone. Such UAVs usually can operate for 24 hours at an altitude of 10,000 feet.