Anka unmanned plane to take off this summer
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The Anka A version unmanned aerial vehicle made its first successful flight in October 2011. The Anka’s length is eight meters and its wingspan is 17 meters with a maximum take-off weight of 1,500 kilos. Hürriyet photoThe Anka, a medium-altitude and long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle designed and produced by Turkish Aerospace Industries for more than $150 million, should be in the skies this summer, according to the manufacturers.
However, even the Anka’s makers can’t say how effective it will be against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, the purpose for which it has been designed.
Efforts to design the Anka were launched in 2004 with $150 million for five aircraft, and 8 years later, the drone, whose name was inspired from a mythical flying creature, has made several partly successful test-flights.
The drone’s A version is a reconnaissance unit and the planned B version is projected to become the UAV’s unmanned combat aerial vehicle. The A version is ready, but it is not known if the B version will appear soon.
Anka A had its maiden flight in December 2010, flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet for 14 minutes, but it ended in crash-landing. The drone’s specifications call for a flight time of almost 24 hours at 30,000 feet. Two later flights also ended up in crash-landings, although their flight in the air was extended.
The drone had its first successful test flight on Oct. 25, 2011. Despite being at sub-standard flight conditions, the footage released by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) put speculation about the crash-landings at a rest. On Nov. 22, 2011, the Anka held the follow-up test flight for 6 hours at an altitude of 20,000 feet.
The Anka’s length is 8 meters, wingspan is 17 meters and maximum takeoff weight is more than 1,500 kilos.
The drone’s eventual success prompted the Defense Industry Executive Committee, the country’s ultimate decision-making body on defense procurement body led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to authorize the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, the defense industry agency (SSM), to sign a nearly $150 million deal with TAI buy 10 Anka UAVs off-the-shelf. Simultaneously the SSM released a request for information to buy engines for the drone.
So, this became Turkey’s first deal for SSM to sign with a local or non-local entity to buy a product that has not met the project requirements in test-flights. The aim is to put the drones in service against the PKK this summer.
Turkey has increasingly been trying to use UAVs against PKK capabilities in an area in its southeast, bordering Iraq and Iran.
Turkey in the past used to get UAV needs from allies like Israel. But relations with Israel are in deep freeze since May 2010, when Israeli commandos raided a Turkish-led aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip, killing nine Turks on board. Turkey last year downgraded all military ties with Israel.
In one of the last major deals signed with Israel in 2007, Turkey was to buy 10 Heron UAV made by a team of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Turkey’s Aselsan for $180 million. Nine of the Israeli UAVs are still in service, but Turkey had problems with the crafts as they frequently need upgrades in Israel.
Since the end of 2007, the United States has been involved in efforts to provide the Turkish military with active intelligence against the PKK. Using information gathered by U.S. drones, the military has hit PKK positions in northern Iraq several times since then.
The U.S. has agreed to a request by Turkey to transfer four MQ-1 Predator drones used for that purpose to bases inside Turkey as the U.S. forces prepared to withdraw from Iraq, moving the four drones to the Incirlik base inside Turkey.
Turkey separately has requested to buy four MQ-1 Predators and two MQ-9 Reaper drones from the U.S., to which a positive response has yet to be given since the request was made in early 2009.