ANKARA, Turkey — The first deliveries of the Anka-S, the armed version of Turkey’s first indigenous drone, have been scheduled for 2017, the Defense Ministry has said.

Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), maker of the Anka and Anka-S, said that six Anka-S systems will be delivered to the Turkish military this year. The remaining four systems will be delivered in 2018.

In 2013, TAI signed a contract with Turkey’s defense procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), for the design, development and production of a batch of 10 Anka-S systems.

The Anka-S can fly with a payload of 200 kilograms at a maximum altitude of 30,000 feet for a duration of 24 hours. The satcom-compatible Anka-S features a high-definition day and night vision camera.

A military official said the Anka-S will be a "strategic asset" for the Turkish Air Force, especially in the military's fight against separatist-minded Kurdish militants deployed largely in southeast Turkey and neighboring northern Iraq and Syria.

The Anka-S started its test flights in the last quarter of 2016. The drone is currently going through a qualification process. In the meantime, TAI engineers are developing flight simulators for the drone.

SSM said in April 2015 it urgently needed armed drone systems to increase the military's intelligence capabilities in its asymmetrical warfare against Kurdish militants. The agency said it required both medium-altitude, long-endurance or high-altitude, long-endurance models.

Last year, SSM chief Ismail Demir said the best method to fight radical terror was to monitor the region under the control of the Islamic State group and mobile threats, and "to have capabilities to hit the threat at its origin … like armed drones."

Also last year, Turkey successfully tested another armed drone, the Bayraktar, which hit a target at the Konya fire test field in central Anatolia from a distance of 8 kilometers. The Bayraktar uses the MAM-L and MAM-C, two types of miniature smart ammunition developed and produced by the state-controlled missile maker Roketsan. Roketsan's mini systems weigh 22.5 kilograms including a 10-kilogram warhead. The Bayraktar was developed by the privately owned consortium Kale-Baykar.

Burak Ege Bekdil was the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.

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