The Turkish UAV Threatening to Disrupt Ballance of Power With Greece

Turkish UAV
Turkey believes that the TB3 Bayraktar will bring a revolution in air combat. Credit: Baykar

A new Turkish-produced Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is threatening to upend the balance of power with Greece over the Aegean, defense officials warn.

The TB3 Bayraktar of the Turkish drone manufacturer Baykar is a shipborne variant of the famous TB2 with enhanced capabilities. It conducted its maiden flight in late 2023 and will be deployed onboard the Turkish Navy’s flagship, TCG Anadolu (L-400), the world’s first UAV carrier, after achieving the initial operational capability.

“When the Bayraktar KIZILELMA unmanned combat aerial vehicle and the Bayraktar TB3 UCAV enter service on our TCG ANADOLU short-range aircraft carrier, there will be a revolution in air combat,“ Baykar’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer Selçuk Bayraktar.

With its foldable wing structure, Bayraktar TB3 UAV will be the world’s first armed UAV capable of taking off and landing from short-runway ships like TCG Anadolu. The UAV will also have beyond-line-of-sight communication capability, allowing it to be controlled from very long distances

Bayraktar announced plans to begin testing Bayraktar TB3 on the TCG Anadolu ship in 2024. “With their deployment on board, they will become a major force multiplier in overseas operations thanks to their long-term reconnaissance and strike capabilities,” he added.

Turkey has invested heavily in exporting and developing its drone fleet, especially the Bayraktar TB-2 and Anka-S.

These systems are capable of airstrikes and are useful for intelligence gathering on the battlefield. Drones have played a central role in Turkish interventions in the Middle East and the Caucasus, during the recent war between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Turkey’s armed drones have been considered a “game-changer” in many conflict areas and continue to attract attention from the markets in different regions.

Greece’s response to Turkish UAV threat

Greece plans to deploy an anti-drone system similar to the Israeli Iron Dome, Defense Minister Nikos Dendias revealed in April.

Speaking on SKAI TV Dendias said that the “plan is under way.”

He added that by observing the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, it was determined Greece needs anti-aircraft and anti-drone coverage. “It won’t happen tomorrow, but it will happen. There is a significant expenditure foreseen for this purpose,” he added.

As he noted, “Turkey has taken steps to produce drones, but Greece did not foresee [until now] that this gap in the defense capabilities should be bridged.”

Like artificial intelligence, drone technology is developing by leaps and bounds, outpacing faltering attempts to regulate it. Drones can fire missiles, bombs, and guided rockets. Smaller ones can be used as weapons themselves, programmed to explode upon striking a target in a one-off “suicide” or “kamikaze” mission.

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