Turkey Use The Bayraktar TB2 UAV Over Syria Detailed
The Bayraktar Tactical UAS is a surveillance and reconnaissance system initially developed for the Turkish Armed Forces. Bayraktar currently holds the national endurance and altitude record for Turkish aviation. Bayraktar set a record for autonomous flight endurance when it flew 24 hours and 34 minutes at 18,000 feet on 5 August 2014. Bayraktar furthermore holds the altitude record with 27,030 feet on its flight on 14 June 2014 with full payload weight.
Bayraktar TB2 successfully demonstrated firing of ROKETSAN MAM-L Smart Micro Munition with 100% precision in December 2015.
Bayraktar is developed by the Kale-Baykar joint venture between the Kale Group and Baykar Technologies. In 2007, the Turkish Defense Undersecretariat (SSM) initiated a development program and invited two companies to compete for a prototype demonstration phase of Tactical UAS Program. Bayraktar demonstrated Block A, with its dual redundant avionics system in 2009 with a fully autonomous takeoff and landing capability and was selected as the winner of the program. Bayraktar Block B design commenced in early 2012 with the second phase of the program, which covers development and serial production.
While the Turkish Armed Forces describes Bayraktar as "Tactical UAV Class" so as to prevent it from being a competitor to the TAI Anka UAV, international standards would classify it as a Medium Altitude and Long Endurance (MALE) UAV Class. With its 650 kg MTOW and 12 meters wingspan platform powered by an internal combustion engine, Bayraktar can fly up to 22,500 feet and loiter for more than 24 hours.
The Turkish armed forces (TSK) used Bayraktar series UAVs for reconnaissance and fire support during their recent operations against Kurdish YPG resistance groups in northern Syria. Their use was highlighted during the Eurasia Airshow 2018, held from April 24 to 29 in Antalya, Turkey, on the Mediterranean Sea coast. The event showcased Turkey’s homegrown combat systems, which were the key to the recent victories in Syria, according to prime minister Binali Yıldırım.
Development of the Bayraktar series was carried out by Kale Baykar, a joint venture of Baykar Makina and the Kale Group. Work on the initial Block A commenced in 2007, and a prototype made its first flight in 2009. The Turkish government awarded the manufacturer a two-phase development and production contract in December 2011. The second phase called for a notably larger airframe, capable of carrying a larger set of mission equipment and 330 pounds of air-launched munitions. As a result, the gross weight rose from 450 to 650 kg (990 to 1,450 lb], and the wingspan from nine to 12 meters [30 feet to 40 feet].
The Bayraktar Tactical Block (BTB2) flew for the first time in April 2014. It features an inverse V-tail empennage and a blended fuselage-to-wing attachment. A single piston engine driving a pusher propeller is positioned between the tailbooms. Most of the airframe parts are made of carbon fiber, Kevlar, and hybrid composites. The maximum ceiling is 27,000 feet, and endurance is 24 hours. The BTB2’s standard payload includes a forward-looking infrared and an electro-optical camera, a laser range finder and a laser target designator. The UAV is datalinked to control stations.
The BTB2 is described as “one of the world's most advanced UAV systems in its class with its flight automation and performance.” It became operational in 2015, and since then has logged more than 42,000 flight hours. Today, it is the only locally developed UCAV in the Turkish inventory, but the Anka-T armed version of TAI’s better-known MALE UAV is expected to join in shortly.
Baykar's research and development team provided support to the TSK during the recent hostilities in Syria and carried out “many software and electronic updating processes” to ensure smooth UAV operations. According to official sources, the BTB2 drones carried out 382 sorties lasting 4,916 flight hours and dropped weapons on 49 occasions. On another 680 occasions, they found and designated targets for ensuing kinetic action by Turkey’s T129 ATAK helicopters, F-4 and F-16 tactical fighters as well as artillery.
One Bayraktar was downed by the Pantsyr S1 antiaircraft system over the Russian naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus on May 11, 2017, and another on Feb. 2, 2018 by U.S.-supported, Kurd-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
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