Bayraktar TB2A Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle
Bayraktar TB2A Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle

Royal Moroccan Air Force Buys 13 Bayraktar TB2A Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle

Royal Moroccan Air Force signed an acquisition contract of 13 Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) and related equipments with Turkey. The total price of this purchase is estimated to be approximately around $65 million. The supply of the unmanned combat aerial vehicles is scheduled to begin within a year. Morocco is already using American and Israeli drones against the Polisario Front, a renegade militia group fighting for a separate state in the south of the country in a region that is also sometimes known as Western Sahara.

The Bayraktar TB2 is a Turkish medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations. It is manufactured by Turkey′s Baykar company primarily for the Turkish Armed Forces. The aircraft is monitored and controlled by an aircrew in the Ground Control Station, including weapons employment, via Türksat satellite. Bayraktar means “ensign” or “standard-bearer” in Turkish. The development of the UAV has been largely credited to Selçuk Bayraktar, a former MIT graduate student.

Turkish Air Force Bayraktar TB2 Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle

The aircraft previously relied on imported and regulated components and technologies such as the engines (manufactured by Rotax in Austria) and optoelectronics (FLIR sensors imported from Wescam in Canada or Hensoldt from Germany). Engines exports were halted when Bombardier, owner of Rotax, became aware of the military use of their recreational aircraft engines. In October 2020 Canadian WESCAM exports were restricted by the Canadian Foreign Ministry. At the same time local FLIR integration tests started with Aselsan’s CATS FLIR system on 6 November 2020.

Turkish drones have become one of the most successful and indigenously developed parts of the country’s defence sector. Qatar and Azerbaijan have also purchased Turkish drones, with many other countries expressing an interest in the technology. In 2019, Ukraine, a country mired in a low-level conflict with Russian backed militias in the east of the country purchased 12 Bayraktar drones. Ukraine has expressed its willingness to buy more drones in recent months in particular, as the conflict with Russian backed forces heats up.