ANKARA, Turkey — A public-private partnership in Turkey claims it has created the world’s first drone armed with a laser weapon.
The Eren was on display at the Konya Science Festival on Dec. 9. However, neither Tubitak nor Asisguard would provide information about the system’s technical data and specifications.
The drone was built by a partnership between Turkey’s state-run scientific research institute Tubitak and the private company Asisguard. The development program was administered by the Criminal Department of Turkey’s General Directorate of Security.
Aykut Eroglu, a senior police officer familiar with the program, told Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu that Eren’s laser weapon would primarily target enemies’ military ammunition stockpiles and bombs in the field.
“This is the first of its kind worldwide,” Eroglu had said.
The Eren recently passed firing tests, during which it used its laser for 90 seconds at a distance of 500 meters, 30 seconds at 300 meters and 10 seconds at 100 meters.
Asisguard is considered an up and coming drone specialist in the country. The company previously developed the Songar, which received upgrades in February. As part of the upgrade program, the small Turkish defesne firm Akdaş installed a 40mm grenade launcher to the Songar. The upgraded Songar is armed with the AK40-GL system and has a firing range of 400 meters. The drone successfully passed acceptance tests.
Several state-controlled and private Turkish companies have worked on directed-energy technology since 2010. Ozgur Eksi, an Ankara-based defense analyst, told Defense News earlier this year that from an operational point of view, directed-energy weapons are meant to increase fire power, serve as a deterrent, and complement armed and unarmed drone warfare development.
“Drone warfare architecture may be the most critical operational use, especially for asymmetrical warfare inside Turkey or in cross-border operations [in Syria and Iraq],” Eksi said.
Turkey has been fighting Kurdish insurgents since 1984 — a conflict that has seen tens of thousands of people die, including civilians. The Turkish military has targeted the group in northern Iraq and Syria.
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.