Ukrainian Armed Forces Bayraktar TB2 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Ukrainian Armed Forces Bayraktar TB2 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Turkey’s Baykar to Donate Three Bayraktar TB2 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Ukraine

Turkish defence firm Baykar said on Monday it would donate three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Ukraine, after a crowdfunding campaign there raised enough funds to buy “several” of the Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) model. The crowdfunding campaign in Ukraine had reached the milestone in a few days and that business leaders as well ordinary people contributed to the fund. Baykar will not accept payment for the TB2s, and will send three UAVs free of charge to the Ukrainian war front. The company ask that raised funds be remitted instead to the struggling people of Ukraine.

The Bayraktar TB2 is a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations. It is manufactured by the Turkish company Baykar Makina Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S., primarily for the Turkish Armed Forces. The aircraft are monitored and controlled by an aircrew in a ground control station, including weapons employment. The development of the UAV has been largely credited to Selçuk Bayraktar, a former MIT graduate student. While the Turkish Armed Forces describes Bayraktar TB2 as “Tactical UAV Class”, international standards would classify it as a medium-altitude long-endurance UAV.

An aerial view shows Ukrainian UAV Bayraktar hitting Russian landing craft vessel with missiles, at Zmiinyi (Snake) Island, Ukraine, in this still image from a handout video released by Press service of Ukrainian Ground Forces on May 7, 2022. (Photo by Ukrainian Armed Forces)

The largest operator of TB2 drones is the Turkish military but an export model has been sold to the militaries of a number of other countries. Turkey has used the drone extensively in strikes on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and People’s Protection Units (YPG) targets in Iraq and Syria. In the subsequent years, Bayraktar drones were deployed by a number of other nations around the world in various wars, such as by Azerbaijan in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya civil war, Ethiopian forces in the Tigray War and by Ukrainian forces during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On 28 May, 2022 Lithuanian citizens fundraised $3.2 million, out of the $5.37 million, to buy a single Bayraktar TB2 drone for Ukraine. The TB2 has been hugely popular in Ukraine, where it helped destroy Russian artillery systems armoured vehicles and ships. It even became the subject of a patriotic expletive-strewn hit song in Ukraine that mocked Russian troops, with the chorus “Bayraktar, Bayraktar”. Russia has previously complained to Turkey over its sale of Bayraktar TB2 armed drones to Ukraine, a high level Turkish bureaucrat said, but added that the sales by Baykar, a private company, were not state-to-state deals. Baykar had sold the drones to Kyiv despite Russian objections and signed a deal to co-produce more before the invasion, angering Moscow.