ISTANBUL — Azerbaijan has opened a training facility and hanger for a new Akinci drone, confirming the country bought the Turkish-made combat system.

The Feb. 9 ceremony also involved a flight of the Akinci, according to the Azeri government. The chief technology officer of Akinci manufacturer Baykar, Selcuk Bayraktar, posted images of the event on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Attendees included Bayraktar, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and his son Heydar Aliyev, as well as other high-ranking officers.

The training facility is for UAV operators, while the hanger will serve as a maintenance headquarters.

Azerbaijan had quietly purchased the Akinci. In March 2022, Baykar CEO Haluk Bayraktar said during a news conference that three nations were interested in buying drone type. According to the company, the first group of Azeri pilots for the Akinci completed training in October 2022.

In April 2023, Baykar and Azerbaijan signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of Baykar drones in the country. Azerbaijan previously used TB2 combat drones in its war against Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The Akinci is a high-altitude, long-endurance drone with a maximum takeoff weight of 6,000 kilograms (12,228 pounds), compared to the TB2′s 700 kilograms (1,543 pounds). The Akinci’s 1,500-kilogram payload is 10 times more than that of the TB2.

The Akinci can also fly higher than the TB2 at around 30,000-40,000 feet max. The Akinci also uses a wide range of ammunition and missiles, including MAM –L, MAM-C, Cirit, L-UMTAS, Bozok, SOM-A, and the Mark 81/82/83 bomb series.

Cem Devrim Yaylali is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He is a keen photographer of military ships and has a passion for writing about naval and defense issues. He was born in Paris, France, and resides in Istanbul, Turkey. He is married with one son.

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