Erdoğan vows to make Turkey world leader in drones

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday vowed to make his country a world leader in drone production, as he praised Turkey’s indigenous umanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) Akıncı, Türkiye newspaper reported.

"We will make our UAV fleet, which we have improved through the Akıncı, a global leader together with the inclusion of our unmanned combat aircraft system,” it cited Erdoğan as saying at the opening ceremony for a glassware factory in capital Ankara.

Turkey's drones have won a reputation for their combat prowess in recent years after demonstrating their effectiveness in Syria, Libya and in the Caucasus. They have also served as an important symbol to highlight Turkey's military success for officials up to and including Erdoğan. 

Turkey has transformed from a country unable to produce its own bullets to a country producing its own UAVs and UCAVs, Erdoğan said, noting that his country was making the correct investments on defence technology.

"We are among the top three in the world in UAV,’’ he added, noting that Turkey was looking to make moves in the automotive sector through Turkey’s Automobile Joint Venture Group (TOGG), which is building the country's first mass-produced domestic car.

State-run Anadolu news agency on Monday reported that Ukraine was looking to acquire 24 more Bayraktar TB2 (Tactical Block 2) unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) in the coming period, citing the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Lieutenant-General Valeriy Zaluzhny.

The country currently has 12 Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs in its inventory utilised by its air and naval forces.

The TB2 drones, the Akıncı’s predecessor, won Turkey decisive military victories in Iraq, Syria and Libya. The drones were also used by the Azerbaijani military against Armenian forces during last year’s Nagorno-Karabakh war.

Building up Turkey's defence industry has long been a priority for the government of Erdoğan. The Akıncı, built by the private Baykar drone builder, is owned by Erdoğan's son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar.

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