Ukraine’s Secret Weapon Against Russia: Turkish Drones
In videoThis viral video went viral on Twitter last Sunday night.A massive explosion burst through what looks like a Russian convoy and hits a surface to air missile system.
The black-and white The footage was uploaded to the account for the Ukrainian armed forcesThis is just one example of the many social media posts that show the terrible effects of Ukrainian drone strikes against Russian hardware. As the drone’s payload explodes in the video—which appears to be a cellphone recording of a screen in a Ukrainian drone facility—people at the facility can be heard gasping in awe before breaking out in cheers and applause.
In just two days, the video had more than 3,000,000 views on Twitter. “Have fear, enemies! There will be no peace for you on our earth!” the Ukrainian armed forces wrote in the video’s caption.
The star of this video and others circulating on Twitter is the Bayraktar TB2 – a type of Turkish drone that the Ukrainian militaryRecent days have seen an increase in Russian military operations against the United States. On Tuesday, military personnel from Ukraine will gather Bayraktar drones destroyed 1 tank and 2 surface-to-air Missile Systems overnight. Bayraktar drones are also featured in videos posted on Twitter.Since at least 2021 the army has used this metric.They are seen blowing up an apparent Russian-looking building fuel convoyGroup of supply trucks.
The drones are small and lightweight, (around seven times lighter than the U.S. military’s Reaper drone,) with a 12-meter wingspan that allows them to remain in the sky for up to 30 hours at a time. Each droneEach person may carry four missiles guided by lasers according to Baykar Technologies promotional material.
Bayraktar drones have an impact in Ukraine
Ukraine’s drone campaign has contributed to its early successes in slowing the Russian advanceIs, and isUnexpected weaknesses in the Russian ArmyThese are the views of U.S. Military Analysts and European Military Analysts. Perhaps more significantly, analysts add, the videos are also becoming an increasingly prominent part of Ukraine’s information war – giving Russian invaders a reason to fear their enemy, and providing a vital boost for Ukrainian morale amid fears of a coming military onslaught. Analysts point out that drones will not change long-term war course.
“The footage released by the Ukraine military shows serious defects in Russian air defense cover, which is a surprise for many observers,” says Arda Mevlütoğlu, a Turkish military and aerospace analyst. “The footage is also very useful for PR and psychological warfare.”
In the past, the U.S. Military was the sole provider of reliable and accurate drones. The technology is becoming more widespread in recent years and can be found on many 21st-century battlefields. Turkey is currently the largest supplier. Turkish Bayraktar drones appeared in Ukraine over the past 2 years. They also made appearance in Ethiopia, Azerbaijan Libya, Syria, and Libya. In Ethiopia last year, rebel forces were threatening the capital Addis Ababa when the government used the drones to disarm them. In the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2020, Turkish drones proved decisive in the Azeri victory against Armenia – a Russian ally.
“In recent years, the Bayraktars have scored some really famous successes,” says Tony Osborne, the London bureau chief of Aviation Week, a publication focused on the aerospace industry. “I would argue that it’s now the most famous drone of them all.”
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The video shared by the Ukrainian armed forces on Sunday reveals one of the drones’ key selling points: that they are capable of inflicting disproportionate damage on enemy hardware, far more cheaply than other drones, and at low risk. Osborne estimates that the Bayraktar drones were sold to Ukraine at a cost in the single-digit millions of dollars each – but that the Russian surface-to-air missile system destroyed in the video on Sunday could be worth up to $50 million.
“The crucial thing about these is that they are cheap, and when they’re cheap you’re not so worried about losing them,” he says. “You can throw them into a fight and if they do score a dramatic hit, like we saw yesterday, suddenly you’re winning the attritional war.”
Osborne estimated that Ukraine probably has 20 Baykar drones within its operational arsenal. Bloomberg reports that Ukraine has around 20 Baykar drones. reportedAccording to officials, Ukraine placed two dozen additional orders. Baykar refused to respond to inquiries for comment.
Turkey’s growing role as a drone power
For Turkey, a NATO member, the drone sales to Ukraine align with its military interests – namely preserving the balance of power in the Black Sea region, according to Galip Dalay, a specialist on Turkish and Middle Eastern politics at Chatham House, a London international affairs think tank.
Baykar Technologies manufactures Bayraktar drones, but the drones have been widely regarded as an extension of Turkish foreign policies. The company’s chief technology officer, Selçuk Bayraktar, is the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “Countries like the U.S., China, Israel, denied to sell Ukraine armed UAVs,” said Haluk Bayraktar, the company’s CEO and Selçuk’s brother, during a webinar in May 2021. “Turkey was the only country to accept to sell Ukraine this technology.”
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Turkish foreign policy has also animated the presence of Bayraktar drones in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan – all battlefields where Russian and Turkish proxies face off. “Drones give Turkey a geopolitical edge,” Dalay says. “It’s one thing to engage in conventional fighting in places like Libya or Syria, but it’s another thing to employ drones. Drones make Turkey’s job easier.”
Other cases like Ethiopia show that Turkish drone sales may be driven more by political than economic factors. Turkey attached no political conditions to its drone exports, unlike the U.S., according to Mevlütoğlu.
To raise morale, it is almost likely that the Ukrainian military shared videos of Bayraktar drones crashing into Russian convoys. However, with the large number of Russian vehicles marching towards Kyiv in large numbers, any Ukrainian morale derived from drone strikes will likely be fleeting. Baykar however, appears to be reaping the benefits well into the future. “Now that Turkey has a growing defense industry, you want to showcase your items as battle-tested,” Dalay says. “Those kinds of conflict zones have become major PR for the Turkish drone industry.”