Unmanned aerial vehicle to be ‘used more in civil aviation’

Unmanned aerial vehicle to be ‘used more in civil aviation’

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Unmanned aerial vehicle to be ‘used more in civil aviation’

Vestel Defense has produced its first tactical unmanned aerial vehicles. DAILY NEWS photo / Emrah GÜREL

Turkey’s Zorlu Group is exposing its first tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), “Karayel” and “Bora,” which were manufactured for the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), at the International Defense Industry Fair (IDEF) being held from May 7 to 10 in Istanbul.

The TSK ordered the Karayel for observation purposes, rather than for ammunition, said Zorlu CEO Ömer Yüngül during a press conference yesterday, adding that they hoped to expand the use of UAV for observation in civil aviation and raise their exports over the next few years.

Zorlu’s subsidiary Vestel Defense and AYESAŞ will deliver six UAVs, three ground control stations and one launching pad to the TSK, which will pay $40 million for them, by the end of this year, after test flights. “We, as Vestel, have invested $25 million in the defense industry up to today,” said Yüngül, adding that both Karayel and Bora were entirely locally designed and produced by Turkish engineers, including their software and mechanics.

After one decade, UAVs will be used in civil aviation more than military, said Aziz Sipahi, General Manager of Vestel Defense and AYESAŞ. He stressed that Karayel had NATO’s certificate of airworthiness, which was necessary for using UAVS in civil aviation. Vestel, which manufactured UAVs for the TSK, will focus on exporting Karayel in advance after satisfying TSK’s needs, said Sipahi, noting that they had held talks with two NATO member countries. “We’d like to accelerate our export activities in the world through the reference of the TSK,” Sipahi said.

However, Yüngül said they aimed to manufacture between 50 and 60 UAVs per year after the delivery to the TSK, adding that they were particularly drawing the interest of countries in the Middle East. Yüngül claimed that Turkey would soon be in the top three for UAVs, along with the United States and Israel.
Karayel is an observation UAV with capabilities including a possible 22,500 feet flight altitude, 70-kilogram disposable load, and 20 hours of endurance. Bora is a training UAV designed for avionic tests and pilot training, with capabilities including a 18,000 feet flight altitude, 10-kilogram disposable load, and 5 hours of endurance.

Hattat eyes aircraft manufacturing

Turkey’s Hattat Holding subsidiary Hema Defense, which particularly manufactures armored vehicles, is planning to manufacture a regional jet liner. “We’d like to build short-range passenger plane,” said İbrahim Hattat in an interview with Hürriyet Daily News yesterday during the fair, the Chairman of Hattat Holding. He noted that they might sign a deal for manufacturing such a plane, which will be completely local, in 2014.

However, Hema Defense is a candidate for manufacturing jet motors for a national fighter aircraft, which is a project of Turkish arms manufacturer TAI.

Meanwhile, sector professionals mostly agree that the private sector should take a bigger stake in the defense industry. Hattat said ammunition manufacturing might remain under state monopoly, but the manufacture of land and aerial vehicles in particular should completely be made by the private sector.