Ukraine to test Turkish Bayraktar armed drones in military exercise

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Ukraine is preparing to test the Bayraktar TB2 armed drones it bought from Turkey in a 10-day military exercise that will start on Feb. 10, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Tuesday.

Ukraine is conducting the military exercise amid fears of an invasion by Russia.

Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said the drill, scheduled to take place Feb. 10-20, will come as a response to the exercises Russia has held near the border with Ukraine.

Noting that the Ukrainian army conducts regular exercises, Reznikov indicated that this exercise would serve as an opportunity to test Bayraktar armed drones as well as US Javelin anti-tank missiles and Swedish NLAW missiles.

Ukraine announced that it had first used Bayraktar TB2 drones against pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine in October, prompting Russia to voice concerns.

During Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Ukraine last week, an agreement for the production of Bayraktar drones in Ukraine was signed.

Noting that Russia has deployed more than 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border with the intention of occupying Ukraine, Western countries have recently increased military assistance to Ukraine.

Russia, however, rejects accusations of intending to occupy Ukraine. Instead, it demands security guarantees from the West, stressing that NATO’s eastward expansion poses a threat to its security.

Turkey is selling drones to several countries in Europe, Africa and Asia, and the Bayraktar TB2 model is in high demand after it was credited with affecting the fate of conflicts in Libya and Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the past few years.

The drones are made by the private Baykar company, run by one of Erdoğan’s sons-in-law.

Turkey’s drones first made international headlines after Ankara signed two deals with the UN-recognized Libyan government covering maritime and security in 2019.

It then flooded the conflict zone with drones, stalling an advance by rebel forces backed by Turkey’s regional rivals and paving the way for a truce.

Turkey cemented its drones’ reputation in 2020 by helping Azerbaijan recapture most of the land it lost to separatist ethnic Armenian forces in disputed Nagorno-Karabakh nearly three decades ago.

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