The head of leading Turkish drone manufacturer Baykar has proposed more cooperation with Germany in the defense industry, the German dpa news agency reported.
“We have very solid ties in other sectors. In defense, mutual measures must be taken. Both sides would benefit from that,” Baykar CEO Haluk Bayraktar told dpa in an interview in İstanbul.
Bayraktar said Germany’s cooperation with Turkey is very “limited” when it comes to defense technology and that “any concerns about Turkey should be dispelled.”
The Baykar company produces the Bayraktar TB2 combat drone, which has been used by Ukraine in the fight against Russia and previously by Azerbaijan in the war with Armenia as well as in Syria and in Libya. Overall, the drone has already been exported to 24 countries, said Bayraktar.
According to the Baykar website, the TB2s, which are 39 feet long with a wingspan of 21 feet and an operational altitude of 18,000 feet, can fly up to 138 miles per hour and can carry four smart munitions, or up to 330 pounds.
Baykar is also currently building a facility for the production of combat drones and unmanned combat aircraft in Ukraine, which Bayraktar says should start operating next year.
In the interview Bayraktar also dismissed concerns about the increased use of combat drones as critics say their use could lead to the escalation of tensions between conflicting countries, especially those in Africa, and could result in civilian deaths.
Several media outlets reported in summer that the Ethiopian government, which purchased Bayraktar drones from Turkey, used the drones in the northern Tigray region, where thousands of civilians lost their lives and millions were displaced in the war last year.
US authorities also expressed concern over Turkey’s drone sales to Ethiopia, which could contravene US restrictions on arms sales to the Addis Ababa regime.
“The decision-makers decide whether they are used in a good or a bad way. Drone technology offers surveillance technology to precisely attack targets. This is not the case with conventional technology,” said Bayraktar.
The German Parliament in April approved the use of armed drones for the first time after years of debate, as the country, shaken by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, moved to ramp up its defense capabilities.
Germany’s armed forces had been allowed before to deploy only unarmed drones for reconnaissance purposes.
Turkey imported 344.6 million euros in weapons from Germany in 2020. Arms deals with Ankara are controversial, partly because of the frequent Turkish military operations against the Kurdish groups in northern Syria. The Green Party, one of the coalition partners of the German government, had called for a complete stop in arms exports to Turkey.
One of Baykar’s directors is Selçuk Bayraktar, the husband of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s youngest daughter. Haluk Bayraktar is Selçuk’s brother.