Equipping the Ukrainian military with the successor of the well-known Predator drones means three revolutions in warfare with drones at once.
The U.S. government plans to deliver four MQ-1C Gray Eagle armed drones to Ukraine in the coming days and also provide training for pilots and operators. This was reported by Reuters news agency last week in an exclusive report, citing three different sources.
Every year, Drone Wars UK counts the number of countries that have medium-altitude, long-endurance armed drones. Some of them, however, do not use them at all. Another six governments are planning to procure them, including Germany and Poland.
At least 26 states have so far procured armed drones or are manufacturing them themselves. Eleven of them have already used the systems in cross-border conflicts, and nine governments even fly attacks within their own borders. This is reported by the London-based organisation Drone Wars UK in its now published annual report.
The count only includes armed drones of medium altitude and long endurance (MALE), such as the „MQ-9 Reaper“ from the USA or the Turkish „Bayraktar TB2“. Not listed are states that use so-called kamikaze drones. These „loitering munitions“, which are also becoming increasingly popular with NATO states, are similar to a missile that can circle above its target before impact and swoop down on it at a favourable moment. The entire system is destroyed in the process. „British NGO: 26 countries have armed drones“ weiterlesen
Initially, the Ukrainian military dominated the drone war against the Russian attackers, who are now striking back unmanned. Both sides are relying on a new drone weapon.
With the attack on Ukraine, the country has become the scene of a new drone war after Nagorno-Karabakh. Unmanned aerial vehicles of various sizes and capabilities are being deployed. Videos of unmanned armed combat are meant to boost the troops‘ and the population’s morale. Initially, Ukraine had the advantage, but now Russia is catching up.
In the current war, manufacturers from Turkey, the USA and Russia will benefit from the military success of their drones. Presumably, a market for smuggling baguette-sized armed drones will soon develop. The current battlefield also proves that drones from the electronics market are playing an increasingly important role in military conflicts. „Ukraine war: The age of loitering warheads is dawning“ weiterlesen
The government in Ankara wants to become the fourth naval power in the Mediterranean, and after being kicked out of the „F35“ programme, the navy is turning to drones. Russia, however, could attack key production facilities.
The Turkish defence company Baykar Makina has begun manufacturing the first prototype of an unmanned combat aircraft, which is due to make its maiden flight next year. The announcement on Twitter comes from the company’s head Selçuk Bayraktar and refers to the „National Unmanned Combat Aircraft System“ (MIUS), which Baykar Makina has been developing for almost four years as the „Kızılelma“ („red apple“). The aircraft is said to have a take-off weight of over five tonnes and to be able to carry a payload of 1.5 tonnes. Baykar Makina claims endurance of five hours, with the prototype reaching speeds of up to 800 km/h. Later models are expected to fly at supersonic speeds.
The jet-powered „Kızılelma“ has stealth capability and is controlled via a satellite link. It is supposed to be able to carry out a variety of military actions, including attacks on enemy units on the ground, taking out air defence positions and flying in a swarm in „manned-unmanned-teaming“ with manned fighter jets. Arming with cruise missiles with a range of more than 250 kilometres will also be possible, according to Baykar Makina, and for aerial combat the unmanned aircraft would be equipped with domestic air-to-air missiles. „Turkey prepares for world’s first aircraft carrier with drones“ weiterlesen
The government in Kiev publishes pictures of drone attacks on Russian invaders, who in turn report the shooting down of several „TB2“. It is doubtful that the weapon is decisive, as it was in the war over Nagorno-Karabakh. However, its current use is likely to further boost exports.
Despite Russian attacks on hundreds of military bases in Ukraine, the Ukrainian air force apparently still has functioning combat drones. The Defence Ministry yesterday confirmed two attacks by the Turkish-made „Bayraktar TB2“. On Facebook, the head of the air force stressed the important role of drones in national defence. No specific date was given for the missions.
In a surprise move, the Ethiopian military was able to stop the advance of attacking Tigray rebels on the capital, according to international media reports, with the help of armed drones. Allegedly „Bayraktar TB2“ ordered in Turkey have not been sighted anywhere so far. However, competitors from China and Iran have been documented.
Ethiopia has been in a civil war with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) for 14 months. The rebels from the region bordering Eritrea are discontent with the policies of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. After taking office in April 2018, the 43-year-old lifted the state of emergency, released prisoners and promised to fight corruption. As a result, the TPLF, which had been powerful until then, also lost political influence.
Only a few weeks ago, the Tigrinese rebels were on the verge of entering the capital Addis Ababa, but the tide has now turned decisively. On 20 December, the TPLF surprisingly announced a ceasefire and peace talks in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and promised to withdraw back to the north. Both warring parties are accused of serious human rights violations, and the UN Human Rights Council now wants a to investigate this with an independent commission. „War in Ethiopia: Armed drones could be again a gamechanger“ weiterlesen
Turkey’s best-selling armed drone is equipped with cameras from German company Hensoldt, a spokesperson confirms. The device could guide missiles developed with German help to a target. The government in Berlin also has a stake in the defence company. Turkey uses the drones for attacks that violate international law.
For almost two decades, companies from the USA and Israel were the undisputed market leaders for armed drones, but now China and Turkey can count more and more exports in their favour. The Turkish „Bayraktar TB2“, which has been used by the government in Ankara since 2016 in the Turkish, Syrian and Iraqi parts of Kurdistan in violation of international law, is particularly attracting attention. In the four-month Operation Olive Branch in Kurdish Rojava alone, the „TB2“ is said to have scored 449 direct hits and enabled fighter planes or helicopters in 680 occasions to do so.
The drone with a payload of 65 kilograms is manufactured by Baykar; its namesake and founder is Selçuk Bayraktar, who is now also the son-in-law of the Turkish president. The „TB2“ has also flown attacks on enemy troops for the Tripoli government in Libya and on behalf of Azerbaijan; it may even have been decisive in the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. After Qatar, Ukraine, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkmenistan, Baykar is to sell the drone as the first NATO country to Poland, interest is also reportedly coming from Lithuania. „Missiles and sensors: German technology for the Turkish drone war“ weiterlesen
Throughout Europe, military drones are only allowed to fly in restricted areas. This is a major obstacle for training and missions inside the country. A British flight series with a US drone is now set to bring a breakthrough for flights in civilian airspace.
For the past two weeks, US drone manufacturer General Atomics has been flying a „SeaGuardian“ in the UK’s civilian airspace. The unmanned aerial vehicle, designed for maritime surveillance, has a wingspan of 24 metres, can climb up to twelve kilometres and remain in the air for 40 hours. With these flights, the British Ministry of Defence wants to prepare the introduction of the almost identical „SkyGuardian“. From 2024, it is to replace the current armed drone fleet of the Air Force, where it operates under the name „Protector“.
After Turkey’s exclusion from the F35 programme, the fighter jets on the aircraft carrier „Anadolu“ could be replaced by armed drones.
Turkey could be the first country in the world to have an aircraft carrier with combat drones. The ship in question is the „TCG Anadolu“, which is to be launched next year. Ideas for this have been around for a while. Now Selçuk Bayraktar, founder of the drone company Baykar Defence and later son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has given details for the first time in an online event of the Aerospace Summit of Turkey’s Gebze University. According to this, the ship could be equipped with a successor version of the well-known drone „Bayraktar TB2“.
The „Anadolu“ is a copy of the Spanish „Juan Carlos“, which with a length of 232 metres and a displacement of around 27,000 tonnes is one of the lightweight aircraft carriers. The contract for the construction was awarded to a consortium of the manufacturer Navantia and the Turkish company Sedef, in whose shipyard the ship is currently being built under licence. Turkey thus becomes the fourth maritime power in the Mediterranean with an aircraft carrier after France, Italy and Spain. „Erdoğan son-in-law wants to equip world’s first drone carrier“ weiterlesen
The lecture in English was simultaneously translated into German. See iton YouTube in original language.
The war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in autumn 2020 is considered the first inter-state conflict won through the use of armed drones. Turkey supported Azerbaijan’s fighting with its „Bayraktar TB2“. Compared to the drones of the previous market leaders from the USA and Israel, these are smaller and considerably cheaper. Germany supplied technology for the production of ammunition. The deployment was preceded by attacks in Syria, Kurdistan and Libya.
After the USA, Israel and China, Turkey now also wants to become an armed drone power. This arms race serves as an argument for many states to also acquire unmanned weapon systems. In the military, however, their increasing proliferation is also prompting new efforts to modernise air defences.
We therefore look into the question of how armed drones have already changed today’s warfare.
Chris Cole, co-founder of the Dronewars UK initiative Bahruz Samadov, PhD student and author from Azerbaijan Gevorg Mnatsakanyan, journalist and conscript from Armenia Kamaran Othman, human rights observer for the Christian Peacemaker Team in Iraqi Kurdistan