ANKARA, Turkey — Azerbaijan is planning to acquire scores of Turkish-made armed drones, the Azeri defense minister has said.
“Efforts in this direction [for the purchase of combat drones] are continuing. Now we are having results,” Zakir Hasanov told reporters June 22 in the Turkish capital.
Recently, the Azeri parliament approved a bill to receive financial assistance from Turkey to be used for the purchase of weapons systems.
The Azeri minister did not specify which drone systems the government intends to buy. But Turkish sources said Azerbaijan is interested in the Bayraktar TB2, a medium-altitude, long-range tactical UAV.
The drone was developed by Kale-Baykar, a joint venture of Baykar Makina and the Kale Group. It can perform reconnaissance and intelligence missions. Recently, Baykar Makina launched a naval version of the TB2.
In a 2017 deal, Baykar Makina sold a batch of six TB2s to Qatar. And in 2019, Kale-Baykar won a $69 million contract to sell a batch of six TB2 systems to Ukraine, which also included the sale of ammunition for the armed version.
The Turkish military is currently using 75 TB2 drones, mainly in its fight against Kurdish insurgents in Turkey and along its borders with Iraq and Syria.
Military analysts say Azerbaijan aims to use the Turkish drones to win military leverage on neighboring Armenia, with which it has been at low-intensity conflict since 1988 over border disputes and control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. There is currently a fragile cease-fire in effect.
Turkey, also a neighbor of Armenia, is a staunch supporter of Azerbaijan in the dispute.
“Turkish armed drones have been a successful game changer in the Libyan civil war in favor of the side Turkey supports,” a security analyst said. “Azerbaijan apparently is keen to use the Turkish drones to reshape military balances [in the south caucasus] in its favor.”
Burak Ege Bekdil was the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.