Turkish defense company Aselsan and drone manufacture Baykar Makina signed a new contract worth $17.6 million for the delivery of the Electro-Optical System. Deliveries will be made in 2023-2024 within the scope of the order. Following the embargo by Canada on Baykar’s acquiring of electro-optical systems, which came after the Baykar-made unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) used by Azerbaijan in liberating Karabakh, they now started to use the domestically-developed Aselsan system, Common Aperture Targeting System (CATS). Aselsan camera CATS has been exported to 12 different countries so far, noting that they join hands and overcome each challenge together.
Canada on April 12, 2021, canceled export permits for drone technology to Türkiye after concluding that the country sold the equipment to the Azerbaijani military forces during fighting in the Armenian-occupied and internationally recognized Azerbaijani territory of Karabakh. Turkey is a member of NATO and is a key ally of Azerbaijan, whose forces regained territory after six weeks of fighting and after three decades of illegal Armenian occupation. Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said at the time that the use of the technology was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey.
Baykar’s drones have been used in 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war by the Azerbaijani army which resulted in a series of boycotts from international companies whom Baykar used to buy products from. Domestic drone manufacturing before that war relied on imported and regulated components and technologies such as the engines (Rotax) from Austria, fuel systems (manufactured by Andair) and missile rack (EDO MBM) from the UK, optoelectronics (FLIR Wescam). Turkish industry responded to foreign sales boycotts by announcing provision of domestically manufactured alternatives to Baykar – PD170 motor (TAI), optical camera (Aselsan CATS system), and fuel valve (Aselsan).
Aselsan CATS is a high performance electro-optical reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting system designed for fixed-wing and rotary-wing airborne platforms, including Unmanned Air Systems (UASs), helicopters and aircrafts. The Bayraktar TB2 UCAV, the one that was used in Karabakh, earlier in November 2020 test-fired using domestically made ammunition with the Aselsan-developed CATS. The Bayraktar TB2 was equipped with mini smart ammunition (MAM-L) developed by leading defense company Roketsan during the test. The MAM-L hit the target with pinpoint accuracy at high altitudes and distances with laser marking made by CATS.