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Turkey expands drone fleet with locally made UAVs      

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
People are seen beside the locally made armed drones, Akinci, on the sidelines of the delivery ceremony in Tekirdag Province in northwestern Turkey on August 29, 2021. (Photo by AA)

Turkey has expanded its fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles with locally made armed drones amid President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s efforts to achieve military self-sufficiency.

Turkey's military on Sunday took delivery of Akinci, Turkish for “raider”, which is made by private drone maker, Baykar.

It is the most advanced and sophisticated drone developed by Turkey so far.

Baykar says Akinci can attack targets in the air and on the ground, and operate alongside fighter jets, flying higher and staying in the air longer than Turkey’s existing UAVs.

The drones will carry various weaponry, including a range of missiles developed by Turkish contractor Roketsan.

Selcuk Bayraktar, Erdogan’s son-in-law, is Baykar’s chief technology officer.

“With the Akinci, Turkey has become one of the top three countries in the world producing that technology,” Erdogan said during the delivery ceremony in the northwestern city of Corlu.

The Akinci is more advanced than Baykar’s Bayraktar TB2 UCAV, which has been sold to countries including Ukraine, Qatar, Azerbaijan and Poland.

Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs were used in Ankara’s lengthy conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group in the country’s southeast as well as the conflicts in Libya and Azerbaijan.

“Many more countries are waiting in line for our national UCAVs,” Erdogan said.

Erdgoan said the defense industry will be a locomotive of every other success that Turkey will achieve in the period ahead.

“Cutting the defense industry’s external dependency to 20% from 80% in such short time is one of greatest achievements in the history of the Republic.”

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