ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish drone-maker Baykar is accelerating two advanced programs, including development of what the company brands as Turkey’s first unmanned fighter jet.

Selcuk Bayraktar, Baykar’s chief technical official, said in a tweet that production of the Bayraktar Kizilelma — the combat UAV/unmanned fighter — has begun.

“The production phase has commenced 3.5 years after the project took off,” Bayraktar said.

The vertical-takeoff-and-landing, stealthy Kizilelma features a 1,500-kilogram payload, an active electronically scanned array radar and a turbofan engine. It has a maximum speed of Mach 0.6 and can operate at an altitude of up to 35,000 feet.

Baykar said it hopes to inaugurate Kizilelma’s maiden flight in 2023.

The company, which also makes the TB2 armed drone, added it is eyeing Far Eastern markets for its advanced TB3 drone in the making.

Haluk Bayraktar, Baykar’s chief executive, said several countries in China’s vicinity will be interested in buying the TB3, and that the drone will be particularly suitable for mini-aircraft carriers like Japan’s Izumo.

The Turkish Navy plans to deploy 50-110 TB3s on the TCG Anadolu, Turkey’s first landing platform dock under construction.

The TB3 features a 280-kilogram payload and can reach a maximum speed of 160 knots.

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.

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