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Bayraktar TB2 Surprise

On May 24, in presence of presidents of Poland and Turkey, Andrzej Duda and Recep Erdogan, Polish minister of national defence Mariusz Błaszczak and CEO of Baykar Makina, Haluk Bayraktar, signed a contract for purchase of Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles produced by Baykar company. The deliveries will be taking place between 2022 and 2024. The signed agreement also covers deliveries of MAM-L and MAM-C precision munitions, SAR radars, simulators, training and logistic support, and spare parts.

The purchase was announced two days earlier, on May 22 when the Polish minister of national defence Mariusz Błaszczak revealed incoming purchase of 24 Bayraktar TB2 (Taktik Blok 2) combat and reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles armed with anti-armor guided missiles, produced by Turkish company Baykar Makina. It was confirmation of earlier information from May 19, which showed a picture of those drones with Polish Airforce markings.

The contract covers delivery of four sets of Bayraktar TB2. Each set is worth approximately $67 million (approximately 246 million złoty). Each set contains six armed Bayraktar TB2 drones. Polish Armed Forces will receive a total of 24 UCAVs. The contract also includes delivery of ground control stations, ground data terminal, SAR multipurpose radars with active electronically scanned array (AESA), simulators, and supply of spare parts.

Turkish unmanned combat aerial vehicles will join Polish Armed Forces in the next year / Photo: Baykar

Tested On Battlefield

The Ministry Of National Defence notes that the purchased planes have worked well in actual combat situations — Turkey used them during military operations in the Middle East and Africa. It was stressed that the Polish industry doesn’t manufacture comparable unmanned aerial vehicles. The deliveries of the first Bayraktars will begin in 2022.

Turkey used those drones in reconnaissance operations in Syria and Libya, and recently while supporting Azerbaijan in the second war with Armenia over Nagorno Karabakh. Azerbaijani Bayraktar TB2 were also used during the conflict. Azerbaijani drones supposedly destroyed Armenian T-72 tanks, BMP-1 and BMP-2 tracked infantry fighting vehicles, as well as 9K33 Osa, 9K35 Strieła-10, and two S-300 PS anti-aircraft batteries. On October 19 one of the Azerbaijani Bayraktar was shut down by Armenians. One Ukrainian drone was performing reconnaissance flights over Donbas, provoking public Russian protests.

Turkey currently uses about 160 Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles / Photo: Baykar

Surprise Contract

The Ministry Of National Defence hasn’t revealed the formal procedure behind the selection and purchase of the planes. Unofficially, the talks with Turkey were supposedly taking place since November last year. Neither Operational Center nor Armament Inspectorate of the Ministry Of National Defence answered the MILMAG questions.

Polish Minister Of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak informed about purchase of 24 Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat and reconnaissance aerial vehicles, produced by Turkish Baykar Makina company / Picture: MON

On April 13 2021, during the session of the parliamentary national defense committee, Wojciech Skurkiewicz, Ministry Of National Defence secretary of state, informed the deputies of the plans to purchase 15 sets of medium-range unmanned aerial vehicles for the Gryf program, and four sets of medium-altitude long-range (MALE) for the Zefir program. Turkish drones are closer to operational parameters of the first program, though the producer advertises them as MALE grade UAV.

Another unknown is where they will be stationed. There are 15 sets of Orbiter 2B drones at the 12th Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Base in Mirosławiec. On the other hand, the 32nd Air Force Base in Łask will hold American drones according to Poland–United States Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement signed on August 15, 2020.

Visiting Polish soldiers stationed at the Incirlik base, Minister of National Defense Mariusz Błaszczak took part in the presentation of the construction of the Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicle / Photo: Leszek Chemperek / CO MON

Bayraktar TB2 Capabilities

Turkey currently utilizes over 160 Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles. Their introduction to service started in 2014. In 2019 their first Bayraktars were received by Katar and Ukraine, in 2020 Azerbaijan. They were also received by the Libyan Government Of National Accord and pro-Turkish North Cyprus.

The drone has 6.5 meter of length, with a wingspan of 12 meters. Bayraktar TB2’s starting mass is 630 kilograms. It is propelled by a single 100 horsepower (75 kW) Rotax 912 piston aircraft engine. It allows the plane to reach a top speed of 222 kph and maximum altitude of 8240 meters. Bayraktar has a maximum range of 150 km, flight endurance of 27 hours and 3 minutes. Bayraktar TB2 is capable of fully autonomous start and landing, and the flight is part-autonomous with the help of autopilot. It can carry up to 150 kilograms of payload, including up to 75 kilograms of weapons. Its fuel tanks can hold 300 dm3 of fuel.

Bayraktar TB2 perform their start and landing completely autonomously while the flights are partly autonomous with the help of autopilot / Photo: Baykar

Four hardpoint can carry laser-guided Roketsan MAM-L precision munitions weighing 22.5 kg and 8 km range, laser-guided MAM-C weighing 8.5 kg and similar range of 8 km, or four 120-mm anti-armor laser-guided Tübitak SAGE Bozok missiles, with mass of 16 kg and range of 6 km. There were also tests involving the Roketsan L-UMTAS/Mizrak- (Uzun Menzilli Tanksavar Sistemi) guided long range anti-armor missile, with cliber of 160 mm, weight of 37.5 kg, and range of 0.5 to 8 km.

Under the wings, the Bayraktar TB2 has four hardpoints, on which Roketsan MAM-L, MAM-C precision ammunition or the Roketsan L-UMTAS ATGM / Mizrak-U can be carried/ Graphics: Baykar

It is worth noting that since October 27 2020 Canadian company Bombardier Recreational Products stopped deliveries of Rotax 912 engines to Turkey. Those engine units are produced by Austrian Rotax company, which is a subsidiary of Bomber Recreational Products. It is possible that this issue will be solved by Ukrainy, which not only purchased Bayraktars but will also be their co-manufacturer.

Container mobile control station on the truck. One set includes two such containers / Photo: Bayhulak

Bayraktar TB2 is equipped with an optoelectronic unit with visible light camera, IR-based thermovision camera, laser finder, and laser target pointer, which can be replaced by a multipurpose radar with active electronically scanned array. Recently, Canadian optoelectronic units L3 Harris Wescam MX-15D were replaced with Turkish Aselsan CATS EO/IR/LD.

Cross-section of the container containing the Bayraktar TB2 drone control station / Image: Baykar

Serbia and Morocco made their purchase orders for Bayraktar TB2. Their interest in the drones also showed Bulgaria, Hungary, and Kazakhstan. Poland is the first NATO country to become foreign user of Bayraktar TB2.

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