ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s state-controlled aerospace powerhouse, Turkish Aerospace Industries, plans to develop the country’s first supersonic drone, company executives said.
TAI showcased its “Aksungur” drone (“gyrfalcon” in English) earlier this month at the International Defence Industry Fair in Istanbul. The Aksungur is a new drone that can reportedly reach a maximum speed of 180 kph.
According to Temel Kotil, TAI’s chief executive official, the Goksungur (“peregrine falcon” in English) will be a supersonic version of the Aksungur. The Goksungur is set to have a maximum speed of 380 kph.
Kotil said TAI developed the Aksungur, a twin-engine-powered aircraft, in 18 months. The Aksungur has a maximum payload of 750 kilograms.
He said TAI manufactured two Aksungur drones for test flights and will deliver them this year to the Turkish Armed Forces. After completing the Aksungur program, TAI engineers will set out to work on the Goksungur program.
TAI designed, developed and built the medium-altitude, long-endurance Anka, Turkey’s first indigenous UAV. It also developed the Anka-S, a satellite-controlled version.
TAI manufactures aviation components for Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, with annual exports worth $500 million. It is a partner in the U.S.-led, multinational Joint Strike Fighter program that builds the F-35 fighter jet.
The Turkish company also produces the T129, a helicopter gunship, under license from the Italian-British company AgustaWestland.
TAI expects a 2019 turnover of $2.6 billion.
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.