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Turkish drone passes test, lacking standards

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News | 10/26/2011 12:00:00 AM |

The largest locally made unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, recently passed a crucial test, but its operational altitude and duration were short of the standards required.

The largest locally made unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, recently passed a crucial test, but its operational altitude and duration were short of the standards required.

The Anka drone, designed, developed and manufactured by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), is a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV, required to operate at more than 10,000 meters carrying 200 kilograms for around 24 hours.

On an Oct. 22 test flight, the drone flew at about 3,000 meters for 130 minutes, according to Anatolia news agency. The Anka crash-landed in all three previous flight tests since last December, therefore defense analysts view the Oct. 22 test as a major success for the program’s future.

“It seems that the landing problem in previous flights will soon be eliminated. When this happens, the drone will be ready for serial production,” said one defense analyst. TAI plans to produce both unarmed and armed versions of the Anka. Military UAVs mostly are used for surveillance, a feature greatly needed in the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

TAI is expected to deliver the first Anka to the military next year or in 2013. Presently the Turkish military, in the MALE category, has up to nine operational IAI Heron drones bought from Israel last year. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced last month the U.S. would provide Turkey with a number of MQ-1 Predator drones. These UAVs are expected to come from the U.S. inventory in Iraq, which Washington plans to withdraw by the end of the year.

TAI also has signed an agreement with European defense giant EADS for joint development of the planned Talarion MALE drone. Several Turkish companies, most notably Bayraktar, successfully are producing tactical and mini UAVs, which are smaller than the MALE drones.

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