Turkish UAVs protect skies of nearly 40 countries - M5 Dergi
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Turkish UAVs protect skies of nearly 40 countries

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The skies of nearly 40 countries are protected by Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a senior official said Thursday, highlighting the country’s leading role in the sector and the achievements that led the industry to boost its localization rate significantly.

“Türkiye is number one in the world in unmanned aerial vehicles. The skies of nearly 40 countries are protected by Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles,” Industry and Technology Minister Mehmet Fatih Kacır told Anadolu Agency (AA).

“Our localization rate in the defense industry in Türkiye has increased from 20% to over 80%. This story has brought together a huge ecosystem of about 3,500 companies, employing nearly 80,000 qualified jobs,” the minister explained.

“It is a matter of pride that among them, there are the best teams in the world like Baykar. We find technology valuable as long as it is used for the benefit of humanity, and our defense industry breakthrough is a part of this civilization perspective,” he added.

Attending a business forum in the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sarajevo, Kacır evaluated the breakthroughs in both the Turkish defense industry and the tech sector while touching upon the role of the Turkish-made Akıncı drone as it joined efforts to locate the helicopter carrying late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi earlier this week.

Stating that Bayraktar Akıncı unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) performed an important task in the search and rescue activities following the helicopter crash, the minister said, “I wish God’s mercy to Iranian President Ebrahim Reisi and his delegation, who lost their lives in the accident. I offer my condolences to the Iranian people.”

“Upon the request of the Iranian authorities to use Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles to detect the crashed helicopter, our Bayraktar Akıncı UCAV, which is in the inventory of our Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), arrived in the region and scanned the geography in a short time of 1.5 hours … It was possible to detect the helicopter in a very difficult, steep geography and in bad, foggy and cloudy weather conditions.”

Furthermore, the minister acknowledged that the achievements of Türkiye in the defense sector are carefully followed by the whole world, underlining that they can meet their own needs with domestic and national systems developed.

The recent involvement of the Akıncı drone in the search operation put the Turkish defense industry once again in the spotlight, with numerous international media outlets reporting on it.

“We have evaluated the needs of our friend and neighbor Iran with the same civilizational perspective and the approach of sharing the opportunities we have with our friends and brothers. Nearly 5 million people watched this event live that night, thanks to AA,” the minister explained.

“I also congratulate AA; they shared that process with the whole world, step by step, from the first moment,” he added.

Early on Monday, Anadolu Agency reported that a Turkish Akıncı drone had identified “a source of heat suspected to be the wreckage of the helicopter carrying President Raisi” and shared its coordinates with Iranian authorities.

Selçuk Bayraktar, chairperson of Baykar’s Board of Directors and its CTO, the manufacturer of the pioneering combat drone, said earlier this week that the UCAV, developed by Turkish engineers, went to places where no aircraft would venture under normal circumstances through the mountains and valleys of northwestern Iran during the search and rescue mission.

He said the Akıncı, which took part in the search mission after the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Raisi and his accompanying officials, made its first flight in 2019.

Noting that Baykar had developed drones that would be “the world’s best in its class” in 15 years, Bayraktar said the company’s TB2 drones had become “the unmanned aerial vehicle that has been exported to the most countries in the world and provides the highest performance at the lowest cost.”

First delivered to the armed forces in late August 2021, Akıncı is Türkiye’s most advanced and sophisticated drone, while Baykar is the country’s leading defense exporter, having made sales worth nearly $1.8 billion in 2023, out of the country’s total of $5.5 billion.

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