ANKARA—Facing multiple asymmetrical security threats, Turkey increasingly relies on a strategy to enrich its inventory of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) types. Most recently, Turkey’s procurement agency released two requests for information (RFI) to task industry with research on two new types of drones.
The Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM in its Turkish acronym) said that it would take bids for two new types of UAVs not existent in the Turkish military’s inventory: multicopter type strike drones and nano drones. Contenders must obtain the RFI document from SSM by Oct. 24 and must reply by Nov. 9.
"We need all types of drones in our fight against asymmetrical threats," said one senior security official. "Drones are and will be an effective asset in our anti-terror warfare."
A procurement official familiar with the program said that the nano drone program aims to increase warfare efficiency while minimizing 'management' costs of operating drones.
"The idea is to operate extra mini drones [as small as 15-20 centimeters] with minimal costs in areas where we need surveillance and intelligence capabilities in rough terrain," the official said.
Since July 2015 Turkey's three-decade-long war with Kurdish insurgents revived after a two-year ceasefire, since then killing thousands of security officials and militants. Turkey also fights the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Turkey, Iraq and Syria.
Turkey's earlier efforts to strengthen its drone fleet include a program for the indigenous development of several sub-systems for operative-class drones. In April SSM said it aims at maximum local technology in drone sub-systems.
The office said some of the systems it wants to locally develop include turboprop engines, spare cruise systems, perceive-and-avoid systems, wide band satellite communication systems, automatic take-off and landing systems, high-resolution cameras, surveillance systems, electronic support pods, electronic ground support systems and search and rescue systems.
After Turkey's southern cities bordering Syria came under increasing mortar attacks from ISIL outposts across the border, Turkey's military and procurement officials have given pace to the country's two independent armed drone programs.
Ismail Demir, Turkey's chief procurement official, said: "The best method is to monitor the region [under ISIL's control] and mobile threats, and to have capabilities to hit the threat at its origin … Like armed drones."
On Apr. 29 Turkey successfully tested an armed drone, the Bayraktar, which hit a target at the Konya fire test field in central Anatolia from a distance of eight kilometres. The Bayraktar uses the MAM-L and MAM-C, two mini smart ammunitions developed and produced by the state-controlled missile maker Roketsan. Roketsan's mini systems weigh 22.5 kilograms including a 10-kilogram warhead.
The local industry also is developing BSI-101, a SIGINT system, for the Bayraktar in order to end Turkey's dependence on U.S.-made SIGINT systems drones.
Burak Ege Bekdil is the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.