Aerial Warfare

Turkish Drone Manufacturer Baykar Secures Deal with Saudi Arabia for Akinci UCAV

Baykar Bayraktar Akinci (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle)
Baykar Bayraktar Akinci (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle)

In a significant milestone for the Turkish defense industry, Baykar, the country’s prominent drone manufacturer, has inked the largest defense deal in Turkish history with Saudi Arabia. The agreement, signed during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Saudi Arabia, involves the supply of Baykar’s cutting-edge UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle), Akinci, to the Saudi Army. The deal also includes provisions for technical, logistic, and educational support, as well as opportunities for technology transfer and joint production between the two nations. This article explores the details of the historic defense deal, highlighting Akinci’s capabilities and the potential implications for regional and global peace. Akinci, developed by Baykar, represents a game-changing advancement in the field of unmanned combat aerial vehicles. Equipped with dual artificial intelligence avionics, the UCAV possesses remarkable capabilities, rivaling those of fighter jets. Among its impressive features are electronic support systems, dual satellite communication systems, air-to-air radar, collision avoidance radar, and synthetic aperture radar. With the ability to carry various payloads, Akinci can effectively carry out air-to-ground and air-to-air attack missions, making it a versatile asset for military operations.

The Akinci defense deal signifies an important milestone in the diplomatic relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Haluk Bayraktar, the general manager of Baykar, emphasized that the cooperation aims not only to bolster bilateral ties but also to contribute to regional and global peace. The collaboration is expected to deepen further, as both nations have committed to technology transfer and joint production, which can lead to greater strategic alignment and a stronger defense partnership. With the integration of Akinci into the Saudi army’s inventory, the nation’s defense capabilities are set to witness a significant enhancement. The UCAV’s versatility and state-of-the-art technology provide the Saudi Armed Forces with an edge in combat operations, intelligence gathering, and surveillance. The provision of technical, logistic, and educational services by Baykar will also ensure optimal utilization and maintenance of the drones, ensuring operational readiness. The defense deal between Turkish drone manufacturer Baykar and Saudi Arabia for the Akinci Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle marks a significant milestone in the history of Turkish-Saudi relations. This groundbreaking agreement is expected to strengthen military cooperation between the two nations while providing the Saudi Army with a powerful and versatile tool for various military operations.

Selçuk Bayraktar, CEO of Turkey's Bayktar Tech (L) and Saudi Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman signed a contract for Akinci combat drones on Tuesday as Turkish President Recep Erdogan and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman look on. The deal is billed as Turkey's largest-ever arms export deal. (Baykar photo)
Selçuk Bayraktar, CEO of Turkey’s Bayktar Tech and Saudi Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman signed a contract for Akinci combat drones on Tuesday as Turkish President Recep Erdogan and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman look on. The deal is billed as Turkey’s largest-ever arms export deal. (Photo by Baykar)

Bayraktar Akinci is a high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) being manufactured by the Turkish defence company Baykar. The first three units entered service with the Turkish Armed Forces on 29 August 2021. The aircraft has a 5.5+ tons of maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of which 1350+ kg is composed of payload. Akinci is equipped with two turboprop engines which has two different types of thrust capabilities as 450 or 750 hp. Akinci is equipped with electronic support and countermeasure systems, dual satellite communication systems, air-to-air radar, collision avoidance radar and national advanced synthetic aperture radar. On 22 April 2021, Bayraktar Akinci UCAV has successfully conducted its first firing tests. During the test Akinci was equipped with three different variants of the indigenously developed smart ammunitions, MAM-L, MAM-C and MAM-T. The test has also been the first public appearance of the Roketsan’s newest smart ammunition MAM-T. From July 6 to 7, the aircraft completed a test flight of 25 hours and 45 minutes, flying 7507 km and reaching an altitude of 38,039 feet or 11,594 meters. On August 29, 2021, Akinci was added to the inventory of Turkish armed forces.

On 29 August 2021, the first three units were delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces. Akinci has been used first in Pençe-Kilit Operations which held by Turkish military to dissolve PKK positions such as shelters and caves in Northern Iraq. A total of 9 Turkish Bayraktar Akinci UAVs successfully flew over 1551 hours in the earthquake zone of the 2023 Turkey-Syria earthquake. The unmanned combat aerial vehicles have been instrumental in providing continuous updates and data to the crisis response team for damage detection, search and rescue support, along with coordination activities. A unspecified number of Bayraktar Akincis were involved in an attack on the Wagner Group-operated El-Hadim Airbase, having destroyed at least one air defense system. At least 1 Akinci delivered to Pakistan Air Force in April 2023. In late May 2023, Libyan prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, shared footage from a counter smuggling operations with an Akinci.

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