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Explosive Rise in Turkish Airstrikes and Drone Warfare

Explosive Rise in Turkish Airstrikes and Drone Warfare

Turkish Warfare

The prevalence of airstrikes in Turkey’s ongoing conflict with the PKK and associated forces in Iraq and Syria has been on the rise, with advanced armed drones like the Bayraktar TB2 playing a pivotal role. Operated by the brothers Haluk and Selcuk Bayraktar, who runs Istanbul-based drone manufacturer Baykar, these drones have seen widespread application due in part to crucial components supplied by at least two Western companies. With questions surrounding the ethical implications of Western involvement in Turkey’s military operations, the demand for military drone technology appears to be the driving force behind these collaborations.

Western Companies Supplying Essential Components for Turkish Drones

Hensoldt, a German defense electronics producer, has fitted the ARGOS II optical sensor onto the Bayraktar TB2 drones since 2020. Kelsey Gallagher, a researcher at Project Ploughshares,’s focus is on the significance of these sensors for contemporary drones, which require advanced optical sensors for better targeting and surveillance in military and civilian applications. The partnerships between Hensoldt and regional manufacturers, including TAI and Lentatek, underscore the increasing importance of drone technology in defense solutions.

Defense Exports Scrutiny Amid Human Rights Concerns

Following the emergence of evidence suggesting Turkish-made drones were used in human rights violations in Nagorno-Karabakh and Syria, Hensoldt and L3Harris Wescam tightened their compliance measures to prevent potential misuse of their products. The Canadian government suspended export permits for drone technology to Turkey following allegations of Azeri forces using Wescam-equipped drones against Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. Permanently revoked in April 2021, these decisions manifest Canada’s commitment to upholding global human rights standards and ensuring responsible arms trade.

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Global Demand for Bayraktar TB2 Drones on the Rise

Sales of the Bayraktar TB2 drone have soared, with 30 nations signing export agreements since 2018. Countries such as Ukraine, Ethiopia, Libya, and Azerbaijan have chosen the TB2 drone for its affordability and combat effectiveness. Its advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, along with its ability to launch precision-guided munitions, make it an attractive option for modern militaries.

Turkey’s Largest Defense Contract with Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia inked a deal to purchase the Bayraktar Akinci drone from Baykar in Turkey’s largest-ever defense contract. This agreement solidifies Turkey’s position as a key global defense player and opens the door for future collaborative projects and technological advancements with Saudi Arabia.

Humanitarian Concerns Surrounding Drone Sales

The use of Turkish drones has raised significant ethical concerns, particularly in the case of sales to Ethiopia, where ongoing conflict in the Tigray region has resulted in numerous civilian casualties. Western officials worry that the deployment of these drones could worsen the humanitarian crisis and contribute to regional instability.

Exploring Underlying Factors and Implications

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon, it is crucial to scrutinize the social, economic, and environmental factors driving the use of drones. Thorough analysis of these elements will yield a holistic picture of the issue and provide context for addressing the ethical concerns and humanitarian consequences that arise from the increasing reliance on drone technology in military operations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of the Bayraktar TB2 drone in Turkey’s conflicts?

The Bayraktar TB2 drone has been playing a pivotal role in Turkey’s ongoing conflict with the PKK and associated forces in Iraq and Syria. This advanced armed drone has seen widespread application due to its advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, along with its ability to launch precision-guided munitions.

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Which Western companies supply essential components for Turkish drones?

German defense electronics producer Hensoldt has fitted the ARGOS II optical sensor onto the Bayraktar TB2 drones since 2020. Additionally, L3Harris Wescam has supplied advanced optical sensors for drone targeting and surveillance in military and civilian applications.

What measures have been taken in response to human rights concerns involving drones?

In response to evidence suggesting Turkish-made drones were used in human rights violations in Nagorno-Karabakh and Syria, Hensoldt and L3Harris Wescam tightened their compliance measures to prevent potential misuse of their products. The Canadian government also suspended and later permanently revoked export permits for drone technology to Turkey following allegations of Azeri forces using Wescam-equipped drones against Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh.

How has global demand for the Bayraktar TB2 drone been affected?

Global demand for the Bayraktar TB2 drone has increased, with 30 nations signing export agreements since 2018. Countries such as Ukraine, Ethiopia, Libya, and Azerbaijan have chosen the TB2 drone for its affordability and combat effectiveness.

What was the result of Turkey’s largest defense contract with Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia signed a deal to purchase the Bayraktar Akinci drone from Baykar, making it Turkey’s largest-ever defense contract. This agreement solidifies Turkey’s position as a key global defense player and opens the door for future collaborative projects and technological advancements with Saudi Arabia.

What are the humanitarian concerns surrounding drone sales?

The use of Turkish drones has raised significant ethical concerns, especially regarding sales to countries like Ethiopia, where ongoing conflict in the Tigray region has resulted in numerous civilian casualties. Western officials worry that deploying these drones could worsen the humanitarian crisis and contribute to regional instability.

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How can we explore the underlying factors and implications of increasing drone usage?

A comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon requires scrutinizing the social, economic, and environmental factors driving the use of drones. Thorough analysis of these elements will yield a holistic picture of the issue and provide context for addressing the ethical concerns and humanitarian consequences that arise from the increasing reliance on drone technology in military operations.

First Reported on: reuters.com
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Levi Meir Clancy; Unsplash; Thank you!

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