ANKARA, Turkey — NATO member Turkey and its Black Sea ally Ukraine have agreed to coproduce an increasingly popular Turkish-made drone at a production site in Ukraine.
A top Ukrainian official said Feb. 3 that the two countries would sign a coproduction agreement which would be ratified by parliaments in Turkey and Ukraine.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Olesii Reznikov told reporters in Kyiv that the coproduction compound would also include a training center where Ukrainian pilots would be trained.
In 2019, Baykar Makina, a privately owned Turkish drone maker, won a contract to sell six Bayraktar TB2 UAVs to Ukraine. The $69 million contract also involved the sale of ammunition for the armed version of the aircraft.
In September, the Ukrainian government announced that it was planning to buy 24 more Turkish unmanned combat aerial vehicles in the coming months.
Use of the TB2 by Ukrainian forces against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine has irked Moscow. As U.S. officials claimed to have intelligence of Russian officials working on a staged video of Ukrainian forces attacking Russians as a pretext for war, the Washington Post cited an unnamed U.S. government official on Friday saying a TB2 drone could be pictured in such a film to implicate NATO.
The Bayraktar TB2 is a medium-altitude, long-range tactical UAV system. It was developed by Kale-Baykar, a joint venture of Baykar Makina and the Kale Group. The UAV operates as a platform for conducting reconnaissance and intelligence missions.
Reznikov said that the aircraft to be coproduced would be dubbed the Turkish-Ukrainian Bayraktar.
He said the drone would be powered by a Ukrainian engine. In earlier talks Turkish sources said that the engine would be supplied by the Ukrainian producer Motor Sich.
Bayraktar TB2 features a monocoque design and integrates an inverse V-tail structure. The fuselage is made of carbon fiber, Kevlar and hybrid composites, whereas the joint segments constitute precision computer numerical control (CNC) machined aluminum parts.
Each Bayraktar TB2 system consists of six aerial vehicles, two ground control stations, three ground data terminals, two remote video terminals and ground-support equipment.
The Bayraktar TB2′s maximum payload exceeds 55 kilograms. The standard payload configuration includes an electro-optical camera module, an infrared camera module, a laser designator, a laser range finder and a laser pointer.
Ukraine was the first export market for the TB2, with the sale of six systems in a $69 million contract in 2019. Baykar has also won contracts to sell batches of the TB2 to Qatar, Azerbaijan and Poland.
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.