Saudi Arabia liked what it saw with Bayraktar TB2 drones – The war in Ukraine is not going well for Russia, and in addition to not achieving its key objectives, Moscow’s poor performance could impact its ability to sell its tanks and fighter jets. Who would be really interested in a Russian-made T-90 tank these days?
Instead, the war has become a testing ground for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including the American Switchblade, but also the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2. The drone’s success on the battlefield against Russian tanks has sparked interest from Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), which is looking to become the latest customer for the unmanned aerial system.
TB2 drones can hover above tanks and artillery, then launch missile strikes with deadly precision. Each can reach altitudes of 25,000 feet and fly for 27 continuous hours. Operated at a distance of up to 300 km, the Bayraktar drone is also capable of carrying four laser-guided bombs or rockets, for a total payload of approximately 150 kilograms.
Turkey – A drone powerhouse
Turkey has become a major producer and user of unmanned aerial systems, while also becoming a major seller in the process. Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) started developing drones in 2013 after relations between Washington and Ankara for the purchase of American drones soured.
In 2019, Turkey began selling the Bayraktar TB2 to Ukraine, which planned to equip them with MAM-L micro-guided ammunition – which would be the cartridge used in recent strikes against Russian tanks. After two years of training, the drones became operational last year and were used in a reconnaissance mission over the Donbas region in late December.
The weapons have a proven combat history. Turkish drones first gained worldwide fame amidst the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War which broke out on September 27, 2020 between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Current CrowdSource campaign
In addition to interest from Saudi Arabia, Ukraine could probably receive additional Bayraktar TB2 drones – via Lithuania. It was reported this week that Lithuanian journalist and social media personality Andrius Tapinas has launched a crowdfunding campaign to purchase a Bayraktar TB2 military drone for Ukraine.
“The Defense Ministries of Lithuania and Turkey gave the green light, the manufacturer said yes. And now a word is ringing in my head, Bayraktar,” Tapinas said in a Facebook post on Wednesday, inviting his followers to donate.
“The Ukrainian dagger in the night. Russian army assassin. A tactical unmanned combat aircraft that carries high-precision, laser-guided bombs and long-range air-to-surface anti-tank missiles. In the Ukrainian war, the Bayraktars have already destroyed Russian command posts, tanks and missile launchers,” Tapinas added.
The journalist also announced that his own media company, Laisvės TV, would donate the remaining 62,000 euros from previous campaigns in support of Ukraine.
Today’s editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He writes regularly on military hardware and is the author of several books on military headgear, including A gallery of military hairstyles, which is available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing author for Forbes.