Turkey’s first indigenous unmanned fighter aircraft Bayraktar Kizilelma, developed by Baykar Technologies, has completed its test take-off. The combat drone was showcased at Teknofest, Turkey’s largest aerospace and technology festival, in the northern province of Samsun, attracting great attention despite ongoing design and development efforts. The Kizilelma, whose engine integration test was carried out on September. 19, successfully completed taxi and ground driving tests with safety ties first on November 20. Then, the first test runs without safety ties were directed by Bayraktar.
The Baykar Bayraktar Kizilelma (Red Apple) is jet-powered, single-engine, low-observable, carrier-capable unmanned fighter aircraft, currently in development by Turkish defence company Baykar. The aircraft is being developed as part of Project MIUS (Muharip Insans?z Ucak Sistemi, Combatant Unmanned Aircraft System). The Kizilelma has a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 6,000 kilograms (13,200 lb), with 1,500 kg of said weight available for the payload. The Kizilelma is expected to fly in 2023. However the aircraft was able to complete its first flight ahead of the expected date on 14 December 2022.
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 first prototypes will go at subsonic speeds using AI-25TLT engines, the next prototypes are expected to be supersonic with AI-322F engines. The aircraft has coupled-canard controls for increased maneuverability or better controlling the main wing airflow. The canards offer a trade-off between relatively less stealth but great maneuverability.
The Kizilelma is planned to make a difference on the battlefield, especially with its “landing and take-off capability on ships with short runways.” Developed considering short-runway ships such as the TCG Anadolu, Türkiye’s first LHD-class vessel, the fighter jet will play an important role in overseas missions thanks to this feature. It will have a low radar signature thanks to its design. The Kizilelma will be able to carry 1,500 kilograms of payload (weapons and devices, etc.). Its flight range is 930 kilometers, while the operating altitude was declared as 10,668 meters. It can operate in the air for five hours and has a maximum speed of 900 km/h.