Domestic drones to be used against terror: Top commander
Nuray Babacan – ANKARA
AFP photoTurkey will begin to employ indigenous armed drones in the fight against terror, the chief commander of the Turkish Armed Forces reportedly told President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu during a cabinet meeting on May 2.
Developments in the fight against terror were reportedly a major topic during the meeting, which was held amid rising tensions within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over a growing rift between a constitutionally bipartisan president and the party’s leader Davutoğlu, only two days after the latter’s powers to appoint provincial and district heads for the party were withdrawn by the AKP’s 50-seat Central Decision and Executive Board’s (MKYK).
Sources indicated Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar briefed the country’s political leadership on indigenous attack helicopters and armed drones, as well as updates on the army’s fight against terror.
Indigenous armed drones, which are being produced by two different companies, have reportedly performed well in recent tests and will soon be employed in armed forces operations. The drones will be introduced step-by-step, according to sources.
Meanwhile, reports claimed the locally-made drones were superior to the unmanned aerial vehicles of the United States in terms of their performance during unfavorable weather conditions. Turkey currently employs four U.S. armed drones based in the İncirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana for use in its anti-terror operations.
Previous reports said long-range anti-tank UMTAS missiles were put on both wings of the indigenous drones, each weighing some 37.5 kilograms, and successfully hit targets eight kilometers away from an altitude of 16,000 feet (around 5,000 meters).
Armed drones have recently attracted increased attention, as the southeastern border province of Kilis has been hit by a series of rocket attacks originating from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-held territories in northern Syria.
Turkey’s top defense procurement official and head of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), İsmail Demir, recently told daily Hürriyet that armed drones could be employed for the protection of Kilis.
“It is difficult to detect and fight with them [rockets] technologically ahead of their firing. There are several countries which are in an active fight with such early systems, but even their systems reach partial success. The best method is to develop and have a capability that will monitor the region which is under threat and to hit this target immediately. Armed drones constitute a good example here,” Demir said, during an exclusive interview at the protection hub of Turkey’s Roketsan.
“The point is here to be able to make products with the capability of destroying and monitoring with receptivity of higher quality at home. Our aim is to reach 100 percent locality in such products, as the dependability on foreign sources in these fields is always a problem,” he added.