How Did the Bayraktar TB2 Drone Become the World’s No. 1 Drone in Just 7 Years?
The Bayraktar TB2 is a Turkish medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations. It is manufactured by the Turkish company Baykar Makina, primarily for the Turkish Armed Forces. The aircraft is monitored and controlled by an aircrew in the Ground Control Station, including weapons employment, via Türksat satellite. Bayraktar means “ensign” or “standard-bearer” in Turkish. The development of the UAV has been largely credited to Selçuk Bayraktar, a former MIT graduate student, and son-in-law of President Erdogan.
The aircraft previously relied on imported and regulated components and technologies such as the engines (manufactured by Rotax in Austria) and optoelectronics (FLIR sensors imported from Wescam in Canada or Hensoldt from Germany). Engines exports were halted when Bombardier, owner of Rotax, became aware of the military use of their recreational aircraft engines. In October 2020 Canadian WESCAM (optics and sensors) exports were restricted by the Canadian Foreign Ministry. At the same time local FLIR integration tests started with Aselsan’s CATS FLIR system on 6 November 2020.
Bayraktar drones have been praised for their achievements by Turkish and non-Turkish authorities. British Defense Minister Ben Wallace and American political science author Francis Fukuyama praised the platform and its systems.