Article: The Rise of the Turkish ‘Bayraktar’ Drone

In this article published in the New Yorker on May 2022, Stephen Witt describes the technological precision and lethality of the Bayraktar TB2 drone. In addition to this, the Witt provides a deeper insight into the political impact of these drones for Turkey as well as its neighbouring countries. The Bayraktar TB2 is an unmanned aerial vehicle (U.A.V.) that has been designed and invented by Selçuk Bayraktar. Little did Turkey and its rivals know that the Bayraktar drone would lead them into becoming a rising drone power. Recent sources state that Turkey is currently one of the top ten global drone exporters as well as a leading drone developer (New America 2023).

Witt offers a description of the TB2’s main characteristics and how the drone has discredited the effectiveness of other drone systems, such as Russia’s Pantsir-S1. The TB2 Bayraktar underwent transformations in 2015 and 2016 after which it could carry out precision strikes targeting “the size of a picnic blanket from five miles away” (Witt 2022). These precision strikes and munition capabilities have benefited Turkey when carrying out the counter insurgent attacks on the P.K.K. (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). Alongside this, the Bayraktar TB2 drone has been deployed in Syria, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Qatar, Libya, Morocco, and Poland.

The article further provides an insight on the impact of the cross-border Bayraktar TB2 drone strikes. These mainly occurred in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, where the drones attacked Armenian soldiers, leaving drastic scenes at the battlefront. Witt closes his account by indicating how Ukraine is currently receiving the Bayraktar TB2 drones in order to defend themselves from the Russian military. Alongside this, Bayraktar states that there are plans on developing an autonomous version.

This post was written by IRW LAB student Eva Akerboom