Turkey’s new Akinci drone sets new Turkish aviation record

Turkey’s new Bayraktar Akinci armed drone set a new record on Thursday when it flew at an altitude of 38,039 feet and remained airborne for just under 25 hours and 46 minutes, Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu Agency reported on Friday. 

The Akinci made its maiden flight on Dec. 6, 2019. Since then, the drone has flown a total of 4,660 miles, carried out 870 test sorties, and spent 347 hours and 28 minutes in the air, Anadolu said. 

The turboprop Akinci is much larger than Turkey’s well-known Bayraktar TB2 drones. It has a 65-foot wingspan and can carry the same MAM-L smart micro-munitions that the TB2 carries and has successfully used in combat. It can also carry larger general-purpose bombs, such as the Mark 82 that Turkish fighter jets use, and can even fire long-range Turkish-built Roketsan SOM cruise missiles. 

The Akinci also has several other additional capabilities that distinguish it from its TB2 predecessor.

“Ankara sees the Akinci as its main aerial vehicle for intelligence-surveillance-target acquisition (ISTAR) and command-control-communication (C3) tasks in the next decade,” Turkish military expert Metin Gurcan wrote in Al-Monitor last year.

“The drone will be equipped with indigenously developed systems, including a multi-role active electronically scanned array radar, a SAR/GMTI radar, a wide-area surveillance system, electronic warfare, an electronic and signal intelligence suite, and beyond-line-of-sight satellite communications systems, the sum of which makes the Akinci the best-ever ISTAR+C3 asset the Turkish military has had,” he added. 

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