The Turkish company Baykar Defense presented in 2014 the TB2 Bayraktar, which is a development of its previous model from 2011 Bayraktar Çaldıran or Bayraktar TB1. The development of this UCAV (unmanned combat aerial vehicle) was accelerated when Turkey had an embargo by the United States regarding armed unmanned aircraft for its actions against the Kurdish PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and the YPG (People’s Protection Units) organizations on the borders of Iraq and Syria since 2018.
(Qatari TB2 image). Each complete system is composed by six Bayraktar TB2 Armed/UAV Platform, two Ground Control Station, two Remote Display Terminal, three Ground Data Terminal (GDT) and an Advanced Base with support equipment and a generator. All system components are manufactured entirely by Baykar Technology in Turkey with no foreign assistance.
TB2 is controlled remotely from shelters called “Baykar Mobile Ground Control Station or Mobile GCS”. These stations allow the aircraft to be controlled from bases separate from the command centers through powerful elevating and steerable antennas. The shelter is of the standardized NATO ACE III type and is installed on a truck that has hydraulic outriggers for its stabilization. The shelter has NBC protection and air conditioning. Three operators work in each Mobile CGS; the mission commander, a pilot and a payload operator or weapons operator if the mission requires it.
The TB2 drone can perform surveillance, reconnaissance and attack missions up to a maximum distance of 300 km from the control station. This UCAV belongs to the “Medium Altitude Long Endurance” or “MALE” type and has an onboard avionic suite with a triple redundant avionic system that allows it to perform take-off, landing, cruise flight and taxiing maneuvers completely autonomously. In an emergency, the aircraft can navigate and land at different airfields, even without a GPS signal, thanks to its sensor fusion algorithms.
The Bayraktar has the “Baykar Real Time Imagery Transmission System or BGAM” that transmits high resolution images without delay that can be observed in different command centers at the same time. This transmission system is an application that can be received safely, via the internet, on any authorized device. The system automatically generates image files of everything transmitted in 30-minute stretches that are easily archived and can be consulted at any time. Of course, all this is done safely by regenerating temporary passwords that ensure the access of authorized users.
Bayraktar UCAV has a complete sensor system consisting of an electro-optical camera, an infrared camera, a laser designator, a rangefinder and a laser pointer. Originally, the aerial platform had a Rotax engine of Austrian origin and a FLIR CMX-15D from the Canadian company Wescam, but these components had to be replaced by others of indigenous origin when they were no longer sold to Turkey for different reasons. The Rotax 912 engine was replaced by a TEI PD170 gasoline injection engine and the FLIR was changed by an Aselsan CATS EO/IR/LD imaging and targeting sensor.
This drone is of the monocoque type and is made of carbon fiber, Kevlar and hybrid composites. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 700 kg, including 300 liters of gasoline that allow a flight autonomy of 27 hours. The maximum payload is 150 kg and can consist of electronic equipment or different types of guided munitions. The combat radius, from ground control, is about 300 km and the maximum operational altitude is about 7,600 meters, although the operational is about 5,500 meters. The Bayraktar TB2 engine has a power of 105 hp, which allows a cruising speed of 130 km/h and a maximum speed of 222 km/h.
This UCAV can carry a wide range of weapons on its four underwing mounts, including the MAM-C and MAM-L laser-guided munitions manufactured in Turkey by Roketsan and designed specifically for aircraft of this type. It can also carry L-UMTAS (Long Range Anti tank Missile System), TOGAN air-to-surface launched 81 mm mortar ammunition, BOZOK laser guided rockets, Roketsan Cirit (70 mm Missile System) and KUZGUN-TjM and KUZGUN-SS long range modular joint ammunition. These last two weapons have a range of 245 and 110 km respectively, which allows the TB2 to attack targets at a truly remarkable distance.
The MAM-C and MAM-L precision-guided munitions systems stand out from the range of TB2 weapons. The MAM-C has a range of 8 km and a high explosive warhead, effective against all types of targets. However, the MAM-L has a range of 14 km and features a thermobaric warhead that is especially effective against hardened targets like bunkers. Despite the small size of these weapons, as they attack from above and usually hit the least protected area of armoured vehicles, the roof, they have earned a fearsome reputation as tank killers.
The TB2 has had a truly spectacular operational career since its entry into service with the Turkish Army in 2014. Turkey has about 150 drones of this type in service distributed in different security, intelligence and military units. It is currently in service in Azerbaijan, Ethiopia (4),Libya, Morocco (19), Poland (24), Qatar (6), Turkey (257), Turkmenistan and Ukraine (20), and is being delivered to Iraq (8), Kyrgyzstan (3), Niger (6) and Pakistan. Other countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary, Oman, Serbia and Somalia have also shown interest in acquiring this system.
TB2 Bayraktar has participated in a large number of military operations and has already accumulated more than 400,000 operational flight hours in less than 8 years of service. They participated with Turkish forces on the borders of Iraq and Syria between 2018 and 2020 and have also been in the 2019-20 Libyan Civil War where they “hunted” a remarkable number of Pantsir air defense systems systems and even some Ilyushin Il-76TD transport aircraft. They then fought with the Azerbaijani army against Armenia in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, once again with great success and huge media publicity.
(Ukrainian TB2 image). More recently, in 2022, they have been deployed by Ukraine against Russian forces that have invaded part of its territory, and once again, they are being quite effective against all types of vehicles, from MBTs to anti-aircraft systems or unprotected vehicle convoys. While it is true that quite a few Bayraktar have been shot down, it must be taken into account that they generally come out on top in terms of efficiency/price. As it has been known, a TB2 drone comes to cost about 5 million dollars against 15 million that cost air defense systems such as the Pantsir S1 or the 2K22 Tunguska, so they can be used in an intrepid way if the situation demands it.

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