ANKARA, Turkey — The Turkish police have ordered six drones and four ground control stations, with deliveries scheduled for 2016, procurement sources said.
The contract was launched in 2015 by Turkey's defense procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), to meet an "urgent requirement" requested by the police department.
In its first fully automatic flight test in 2014, the Bayraktar flew for three hours at an altitude of 18,750 feet. In a later test, the drone reached an altitude of 27,000 feet and flew for 6.5 hours. And in a final round of tests, the drone flew at an altitude of 18,000 feet for 24.5 hours.
The Bayraktar features indigenous software and electronic systems, according to the producer. Its maximum take-off payload is 650 kilograms.
Kale-Baykar boasts that, under the Bayraktar program, the consortium developed various critical systems in drone technology, including a flight control with three back-up systems, inertial navigation and GPS systems, static pilot system, power control unit, a lithium-based smart battery, aerial data recording computer, video-link system, tail camera, ground control station and command-and-control software.
"The police are emerging as a new market for drones," one official said. "They need better intelligence capabilities and they believe they will augment their capabilities with drones."
After Kurdish militants ended a 2013 cease-fire in July 2015, fighting has killed nearly 200 Turkish soldiers and police officers.
Burak Ege Bekdil is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He has written for Hurriyet Daily News, and worked as Ankara bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He is also a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Middle East Quarterly and Gatestone Institute.