ANKARA — In a surprising move, Turkey's procurement officials have set out to "urgently" acquire an unspecified batch of armed unmanned aircraft systems.

The country's procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM in its Turkish acronym) issued a Request for Information (RfI) for what it called "an urgent requirement for the Turkish Air Force."

SSM said that the required drones can be both medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) or high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) models.

The RFI RfI document can be obtained from the SSM office no later than May 11. Potential bidders must respond to the RFI RfI by May 25.

SSM's announcement says the competition will be open to both local and foreign manufacturers.

Industry sources said SSM's move came as a surprise as a state-controlled aerospace powerhouse, Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), is striving thriving to develop several versions of an indigenous drone, the Anka.

The work on the Anka dates back to December 2004. TAI has so far delivered two prototypes to the Turkish military, one of which crashed in 2013. The second prototype is stationed at an air base in Batman, southeastern Turkey, but is not operational, although an original timetable stated that three Ankas should have been operational in 2014.

Planned Anka models include an armed version.