MERSIN, Turkey – Turkish drone maker Baykar has released new details about its newest armed drone, designed to launch from ships packed with unmanned aircraft.
“The Bayraktar TB-3, which is still in development, will be a larger and more capable model in the same family as the TB-2,” the company’s chief technology officer, Selcuk Bayraktar, said during an Aug. 4 online presentation sponsored by Gebze Technology University.
“When we began this project, no fixed-wing UAV could take off from LHD-class, short-runway ships,” he explained, using shorthand for unmanned aerial vehicles and landing helicopter dock naval vessels. “We believe that the TB-3, which can stay in the air for an extended period and is equipped with ammunition, will fill a gap in this field,” Bayraktar said.
The new TB-3 drones are slated to ride aboard Turkey’s future Landing Helicopter Dock Anadolu.
Bayraktar also noted that the ship doesn’t need sophisticated launch and trap systems, adding: “A simple roller system and rescue nets would be enough for secure takeoff and landing, and it can even land without a rescue net.”
According to TurDef, a Turkish online defense website, the roller system will be powered by an electric motor. During landing, the drone will be secured with nets. Because the propellers are located at the back of the platform, no moving parts would be damaged during this process, the thinking goes.
The new armed drone will have a takeoff weight of 1450 kilograms and will be able to fly 24 hours a day, according to an infographic in the presentation. In addition, the TB-3 will be able to fly at high altitudes, and its wings will fold when on the ship. It is scheduled to take to the skies for the first time in 2022.
Selcuk Bayraktar also stated that MIUS, an unmanned combat aircraft currently in concept design, would operate alongside the TB-3 on the LHD Anadolu. A MIUS prototype is planned to fly in 2023. LHD Anadolu would deploy two types of fixed-wing unmanned air assets once trials were completed.
As previously reported by Defense News, the Turkish government hopes to convert its landing helicopter dock Anadolu into a carrier ship for attack drones because the Turkish navy lost the ability to launch a fixed-wing aircraft from Anadolu after the United States removed Turkey from the F-35 project. After the project is completed, at least ten armed drones could be used in operations simultaneously and integrated into a command-and-control center on the ship.
Anadolu will be capable to deploy between 30 and 50 Bayraktar TB3 folding-wing drones.
Tayfun Ozberk is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News.