Private Turkish defence company Baykar has announced its unmanned fighter jet had successfully completed ground tests, as the landmark project inches closer to performing its maiden flight in the coming days. Named K?z?lelma, the National Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle System (MIUS, Muharip Insansiz Uçak Sistemi) completed its first runway run and autonomous taxiing test at an air base in northwestern Tekirdag province. The test was overseen by Baykar’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Selçuk Bayraktar. The Kizilelma is said to represent a significant expansion of capabilities for slow-moving reconnaissance and missile-carrying drones.
The Baykar Bayraktar Kizilelma is a jet-powered, single-engine, low-observable, supersonic, carrier-capable unmanned fighter aircraft, currently in development by Turkish defence company Baykar. It will be capable of taking off from and landing on short-runway aircraft carriers, including Türkiye’s flagship-to-be amphibious assault ship TCG Anadolu. This feature is said to help extend Türkiye’s drone capabilities from land-based to naval operations. The landing helicopter dock (LHD) type ship, TCG Anadolu is said to be the first of its kind in the world as a vessel that allows the landing of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) on its dock.
The autonomously maneuvering Kizilelma will be capable of operating in tandem with piloted aircraft, and may carry air-to-air missiles. The unmanned fighter jet is projected to conduct a multitude of military actions, such as strategic offensives, close air support (CAS), missile offensives, suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) and destruction of enemy air defenses (DEAD). The aircraft is set to feature a high operational altitude and takeoff weight of 5,500 kilograms (12,125 pounds). It is envisaged to carry 1.5 tons of useful payload. It is projected to be capable of flying for five hours and reaching speeds of up to 800 kph (500 mph or Mach 0.64).
The Kizilelma is an unmanned aircraft featuring a low-RCS supersonic airframe equipped with an AESA radar. The aircraft is powered by a turbofan engine fed by two air inlets; yaw control is achieved with two vertical stabilizers. The aircraft has coupled-canard controls for increased maneuverability or better controlling the main wing airflow. Baykar last year signed a contract with Ivchenko-Progress, one of the leading Ukrainian manufacturers, for the procurement of engines for the MIUS. Ivchenko-Progress was projected to supply the AI-322F Turbofan engine for the jet under the agreement.