It’s not exactly a surprise that the world is full of conflicts, especially in places that should be the safest. Many people, especially in the Middle East, are heavily armed and ready to fight. However, it’s hard to imagine you could build a drone that’s low cost enough to be affordable to almost any country on the planet, but still sophisticated enough to be able to shoot down enemy drones with only a few years of training. That’s exactly what Turkey’s Hakurum Air Works (HAW) has done with the SADAR, a drone that is roughly six times smaller than the U.S. version of the same model. The main difference is that the SADAR weighs just 1.2 lb. (567

A small country on the far south of the Mediterranean, Turkey has been spending an incredible amount of money on developing its military, and the use of armed drones is one of the key tools it is using to pursue its goals. In the past, the country has purchased a number of armed drones from Western manufacturers, mostly from the United States, but its latest project is an entirely Turkish-built drone, made by the SONAR Aircraft Engineering Company.

Every day some new device is being made by Turkey that will change the way we deal with combat. On Sunday, the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) displayed in a public ceremony its new line of armed UAVs, which are called “RAFEL”. The Miniaturized Armed RQ-21 UAV, which can be controlled by a remote operator, was displayed next to the new UAVs that will be used by the Turkish Air Force (TuAF), called “F-35”.. Read more about military drones and let us know what you think.A soldier in slow motion next to a Russian T-72 tank. Moments later, a missile fired by a drone crashed into the vehicle, exploding in an orange flash, throwing the man to the ground and leaving smoking debris from the tank. The scene is one of dozens of aerial photos posted online in Azerbaijan last year showing the new weapons. In a span of six weeks, it helped the country recapture the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which had been in the hands of Russian-backed Armenian forces for more than two decades. Video footage shows attacks on tanks, trucks, command posts, mortar positions and radar installations. Small forces around the world are using low-cost, missile-equipped drones against armored opponents – a new combat tactic that has proven effective in regional conflicts over the past year and tipped the strategic balance toward Turkey and Russia. The drones, developed in Turkey with available digital technology, have destroyed tanks and other armored vehicles, as well as air defense systems of Russian protégés in battles in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan. These drones suggest that future warfare will be defined by both cheap but effective combat vehicles and expensive machines with the most advanced technology. China has also become a major exporter of military drones to the Middle East and Africa. Iran-linked groups have used drones in Iraq and Yemen to attack Saudi Arabia. At least 10 countries, from Nigeria to the United Arab Emirates, have used drones purchased in China to kill opponents, according to defense analysts. The consequences are far-reaching, the British defense minister said. Ben Wallace. said in a speech last year, referring to the heavy losses Syria has suffered at the hands of Turkish drones. Flying alone or in groups, these drones can overpower troops by surprise and take out poorly concealed or protected armored vehicles – a task often left to expensive military aircraft. The drones can stay safely in the air for 24 hours, detect holes in air defense systems, help target military aircraft and artillery, and also launch their own missiles. word-image-7627

Image from a video released in March by the Turkish Defense Ministry showing the aftermath of an airstrike on Syrian regime positions.

Photo: Turkish Ministry of Defense/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images Armed forces, including the United States, are upgrading their air defense systems to keep up with these advances and are looking for methods to cheaply destroy drones without launching missiles that cost more than their targets. The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory is also developing Skyborg and Valkyrie, lower-cost autonomous aircraft that are part of an innovative program. Our adversaries are already developing technologies that will compromise our aging platforms, an Air Force spokesman said in a statement. Israel and the United States have long used sophisticated drones in counterterrorism operations to attack known enemies. But countries are reluctant to sell their best models, even to their allies, for fear of proliferation. In response to drone deals struck by China and other manufacturers with countries shunning the US, the Trump administration relaxed its export policy slightly in July, which could boost sales of more powerful models than previously approved. In January, the United Arab Emirates announced that it had agreed to purchase 18 US-made MQ-9 drones for nearly $3 billion. Technological advances and global competition have created cost-effective alternatives. Last year, the flagship of the latest revolution in armed drones, the Bayraktar TB2, appeared on the battlefields of Turkey. Compared to the American MQ-9, the TB2 is lightly armed with four laser-guided missiles. Its radio-controlled equipment limits its basic range to about 200 miles, which is about a fifth of the area the MQ-9 can cover. At the same time, it is a useful and reliable weapon – qualities reminiscent of the AK-47 of the Soviet Russian kalashnikov, which determined the course of warfare in the 20th century. A set of six Bayraktar TB2 UAVs, ground units and other necessary operational equipment costs tens of millions of dollars, not hundreds of millions for the MQ-9. A Turkish drone manufacturer, Baykar, which started producing car parts in 1984, can boast of better value for money. The buyers are Qatar and Ukraine. Poland, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, announced last month that it wanted to buy 24 TB2 drones. According to Turkish government and company officials, other NATO allies and countries in Africa and Asia have also expressed interest.

Bend point

The TB2 drone received international recognition in the skies over Syria in early 2020. In late February, the Russian-backed Syrian regime advanced into the city of Idlib, which was in the hands of Turkish-backed rebels. Following an airstrike that killed more than 30 Turkish soldiers, Turkey launched Operation Spring Shield, deploying drones equipped with electronic warfare systems, ground troops, artillery and fighter jets. The drones, which are silent and difficult to detect by radar, flew for hours looking for loopholes in air defense systems, which fell like dominoes when they were breached, the European Commission said. Haluk Bayraktar, General Manager of Baikar. According to Turkish government and company officials, the vehicles operated in groups of about a dozen to attack targets simultaneously. word-image-7628

Haluk Bayraktar, CEO and executive director of Baykar, at the company’s Istanbul headquarters in February.

Photo: Nicole Tung for The Wall Street Journal Ismail Demir, head of the Turkish government agency that oversees the defense industry, said the low cost of drones allows the military to take more risks in using them. If you lose one, two, three, he says, it doesn’t matter as long as the others find a target. Last spring, TB2 helped tip the civil war in Libya in favor of the UN-backed government in Tripoli. In 2019, Turkey sent weapons to prevent an attack on the militia leader’s capital. Khalifa Haftar, supported by Russia and other countries. In 2020, Turkey stepped up its military support. Improved tactics of drones, perfected in Syria, defeated Russian-made anti-aircraft missile systems known as Pantsir, giving the Tripoli government air superiority. Haftar’s forces had withdrawn from Tripoli in June.

Share your ideas

How should the United States respond to the proliferation of cheap combat drones? Join the discussion below. Success with drone helped Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a sometimes fractured U.S. ally, to expand its influence in the region without risking large numbers of troops or expensive equipment. While Turkey’s strengthened capabilities could benefit NATO, NATO members fear that Erdogan’s ability to use and sell drones could reinforce his stated desire to pursue a more independent foreign and security policy. The United States, like many European partners, is wary of Turkey’s export of drones and the aggressive way Turkey uses drones in these conflicts, he said. Dan Gettinger, Fellow of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, a non-partisan policy research group based in Arlington, Virginia. Mike Nagata, a retired US Army lieutenant general in charge of special operations, said the drones were part of a much larger issue about Turkey’s future relationship with the United States and NATO. word-image-7629

U.S. pilots prepare an Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone for flight in 2016 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

Photo: Josh Smith/Reuters.

Bloody Earth

In January 2019, Ukraine signed an agreement to buy TB2 drones from Turkey, of which it has received at least six so far, and Kyiv is in talks for joint production. The Ukrainian company produces motors for the latest Baykar drone, a larger model with a higher payload than the TB2. The country hopes to use the drones to prevent a repeat of the 2014 Kremlin attacks. They allow us to deter or repel Russian aggression in the event of an invasion, the EU said. Yuri Mysyagin, Deputy Chairman of the Defence Committee of the Ukrainian Parliament. We saw them perform last year. In March, the Ukrainian military released details of flight training over the Black Sea, about 50 miles from Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. The Department of Defense declined to comment further. Turkey’s sale of drones has infuriated Moscow. Due to an increase in the number of Covid 19 cases in Turkey, Russia suspended most flights between the two countries in April until Jan. 1. June, preventing Turkey from receiving Russian tourists arriving for the May holiday. This week, Russia extended the suspension for three weeks. Erdogan told the Ukrainian president Volodomir Zelenski at a meeting in Turkey in April, that the Russian president Vladimir Putin threatened to extend the no-fly zone unless Turkey refrained from selling drones and supporting Ukraine, according to a person with knowledge of the conversation. Neither the Kremlin nor the Russian Defense Ministry responded to requests for comment. word-image-7630

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko watches a test flight of the Bayraktar TB2 from a military base in Khmelnitsky, Ukraine in March 2019.

Photo: Mykola Lararenko/President of Ukraine/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Turkish officials say they are not seeking a conflict with Russia by opposing its allies. Turkey maintains close energy ties with Moscow and has purchased an advanced Russian air defense system, which has led to sanctions by the United States. TB2 grew out of Turkey’s dissatisfaction with the models of the United States and Israel and its desire to have systems in place to fight the PKK, a Kurdish paramilitary group, under its control. These countries did not cooperate with us sufficiently, so we had to set up our own programme. Mustafa Varank, Minister of Industry and Technology of Turkey, said in an interview. Turkey is now reaping the benefits of the right decisions taken at the right time. Baykar became a leader among several Turkish drone manufacturers after it discovered a niche in the early 2000s, said Bayraktar, the company’s CEO. His brother Selcuk Bayraktar, trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, developed the flight control software and guidance system using commercially available components. During the course of the development, the representatives held a workshop at a military base to get first-hand information, including from a colonel who took them to a bloody site where Turkish soldiers were allegedly killed by the PKK. In 2007, Turkey issued a national tender for mini-UAVs, after which Baykar ordered 76 units. At the time, the United States did not want to sell armed drones to Turkey. Baikar developed TB2 and gradually replaced the foreign parts with indigenous ones. In 2015, the company conducted a successful test launch of a precision munition. The Turkish military initially deployed drones within its own borders and in northern Iraq and Syria. Mr. Erdogan quickly involved them in wars near Turkey’s borders. Azerbaijan, which has close geographical and cultural ties with Turkey, purchased a number of TB2 drones last year. The country ceded control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region to Armenia in a war that ended with a cease-fire in 1994. The growing oil wealth strengthened Azerbaijan’s armed forces in the following years. TB2 and Israeli drones helped Azerbaijan defeat Armenian forces. The attacks were videotaped and published on the Internet by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense. word-image-7631

A man walks through the rubble of buildings damaged by shelling in Ganja, Azerbaijan, during the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan last October.

Photo: tofik babayev/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images Oryx, a blog that verifies destroyed equipment with photos and videos, cites data on the destruction by drones of 106 Armenian tanks, 146 pieces of artillery, 62 multiple rocket launchers, 18 surface-to-air missile systems, seven radar installations and 161 other pieces of equipment. The total losses, as Oryx noted, were probably higher. In Azerbaijan, 30 tanks and other vehicles and equipment were destroyed, the blog said. After six weeks of fighting, the Kremlin, which is friendly to both countries but has a military alliance with Armenia and has troops on its territory, agreed to a cease-fire in November, and Azerbaijan recaptured much of the territory it had long lost. Azerbaijan’s victory caught the attention of Turkish suppliers. Some companies and countries, including Canada, have suspended the export of parts used in TB2. Baykar officials said they have integrated the Turkish chamber and accelerated work on replacing the engine, which should be done by the end of the year. During the victory parade in December in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, Erdogan sat next to his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, on a platform covered with Turkish and Azerbaijani flags. Triumphant music sounds. As a bevy of TB2 drone trucks passed, Aliyev nodded and smiled. Email James Marson at james.marson@wsj.com and Brett Forrest at brett.forrest@wsj.com. Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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