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Bayraktar Akinci Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle Hits Moving Sea Target with Guided Munitions

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Bayraktar Akinci Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle Hits Moving Sea Target with Guided Munitions

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Bayraktar Akinci Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle Hits Moving Sea Target with Guided Munitions
Bayraktar Akinci Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle Hits Moving Sea Target with Guided Munitions

Turkey on Thursday announced it had successfully tested a new domestically developed drone optical technology, the latest advancement in the critical system that had been for years imported from abroad. The ASELFLIR-500 electro-optical reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting system, developed by Aselsan, was tested by the Bayraktar Akinci unmanned combat aerial vehicle, which struck a moving target at sea, according to a video shared by the drone developer, Baykar. The video footage showed Akinci, the larger sibling of its battle-proven Bayraktar TB2 drone, utilizing the ASELFLIR-500 to destroy an Albatros unmanned surface vessel using smart ammunitions MAM-T and MAM-L, developed by Roketsan. The electro-optic system is a more advanced tech compared to the Common Aperture Targeting System (CATS), which Aselsan had developed after Canada suspended sales of its optical equipment to Türkiye in 2020.

Bayraktar Akinci high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) hits moving sea target with guided munitions.
Bayraktar Akinci high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) hits moving sea target with guided munitions. (Photo by Baykar)

Ottawa suggested that the system attached to Turkish-made drones had been used by Azerbaijan while fighting illegally occupying Armenian forces in Karabakh, the Azerbaijani enclave Baku has since liberated. The embargoed equipment included Wescam sensors used in Türkiye’s famed Bayraktar TB2 drones, also developed by Baykar. Last month, Canada announced it had dropped weapon export controls on drone parts, including the imaging and targeting system, shortly after Türkiye formally approved Sweden’s NATO membership bid. The freeze on sales prompted Türkiye to capitalize on the opportunity to enhance its indigenous defense capabilities and produce what Aselsan General Manager Ahmet Akyol this week said are top-tier alternatives. The company not only filled the technological gap but also emerged as a significant exporter, with CATS being sold to 10 countries to date.

Bayraktar Akinci high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) hits moving sea target with guided munitions.
Bayraktar Akinci high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) hits moving sea target with guided munitions. (Photo by Baykar)

Dubbed the “eye” of the indigenous platforms, the electro-optical reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting system is designed for fixed-wing and rotary-wing airborne platforms, including unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters and aircraft. Akyol also revealed plans for further advancements, stressing plans for new equipment even more advanced than the ASELFLIR-500. First delivered to armed forces in late August 2021, Akinci is Türkiye’s most advanced and sophisticated drone that has accumulated 40,000 flight hours. Its developer, Baykar, has sealed deals to sell Akinci to nine countries to date, whereas Bayraktar has been exported to 33 nations. Baykar is Türkiye’s biggest defense exporter, having made sales worth nearly $1.8 billion in 2023, out of the country’s total of $5.5 billion.

Bayraktar Akinci igh-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) hits moving sea target with guided munitions. (Photo by Baykar)
Bayraktar Akinci igh-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) hits moving sea target with guided munitions. (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+ ton maximum takeoff weight (MTOW), of which over 1,350 kg (2,980 lb) is payload. Akinci is equipped with two turboprop engines of either 450 hp (460 PS; 340 kW) or 750 hp (760 PS; 560 kW), as well as electronic support and ECM systems, dual satellite communication systems, air-to-air radar, collision avoidance radar, and advanced synthetic-aperture radar. The Ak?nc? drone is equipped with an indigenously manufactured active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar called MURAD, a SAR/GMTI radar, a surveillance system, electronic warfare, and signal intelligence suite (SIGINT), and SATCOM allowing Ak?nc?s to become UCAV as well as ISTAR+C3 assets for the Turkish military.

Bayraktar Akinci igh-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) hits moving sea target with guided munitions. (Photo by Baykar)
Bayraktar Akinci igh-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) hits moving sea target with guided munitions. (Photo by Baykar)

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