MELBOURNE, Australia, and MERSIN, Turkey — Malaysia has selected Turkish Aerospace Industries to provide three unmanned aircraft, according to the Southeast Asian nation’s defense minister.
“[F]or the procurement of three (3) MALE-UAS units, the Government has decided to contract with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI),” Hishammuddin Hussein said in a statement Sunday.
The purchase will be funded under the country’s five-year spending plan, rather than its defense budget, the minister added.
TAI had pitched its Anka, a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system. According to a TAI news release from 2019 ahead of the defense and aerospace LIMA expo, the company was set to hold high-level talks on exporting the Anka.
On Aug. 18, 2022, Malaysian King Al-Sultan Abdullah visited TAI’s facilities in Ankara, Turkey. Then on Oct. 7, TAI announced a memorandum of understanding for collaboration with MIMOS, Malaysia’s research and development center.
TAI has not issued a statement on the agreement, and company officials declined to comment for this story.
The Anka family of drones can perform reconnaissance, target acquisition and identification, and intelligence gathering missions. It features electro-optical/infrared and synthetic-aperture radar technologies. The manufacturer says the aircraft have autonomous flight capabilities and can take off and land on their own.
The UAV family has a wingspan of 17.5 meters and a length of 8.6 meters, and has a service ceiling of 30,000 feet. They can remain airborne at the operational altitude of 18,000-23,000 feet for more than 30 hours.
It’s possible Malaysia will choose the Anka-S version, which is in use with the militaries of Turkey and Tunisia. That variant boasts a data link range of 250 kilometers (31 miles) and an endurance of 30 hours. It can be armed with a variety of precision-guided bombs and missiles developed in Turkey, including the MAM series of laser-guided bombs that have seen combat in Libya, Syria, Nagorno-Karabakh and Ukraine.
TAI also manufactures the Aksungur drone, which has a higher payload and endurance, and is in service with the Turkish military.
Malaysia’s armed forces and Coast Guard are focused on piracy along its coasts as well as militancy and terrorism in the Sulu Sea, which lies between eastern Malaysia and the southern Philippines.
Malaysia is made up of two separate landmasses with coastlines along the strategic Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea. It is also one of six claimants of ownership over the disputed Spratly group of islands.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.
Tayfun Ozberk is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News.