Turkey has become one of six countries that have the technology to produce armed drones, joining producers Israel, China, Iran, Pakistan and the US.
Turkey’s first domestically produced armed drone started its first mission last week using locally made missiles, the project owner announced on Saturday on his Twitter account.
— Christiaan Triebert (@trbrtc) 31 August 2016
Selçuk Bayraktar, the chief technical officer of the drone's manufacturer, shared pictures of the drone loaded with rockets.
One bears the message "Ömer Halisdemir, following you 24-7" painted on it. Halisdemir was an important figure in a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, who was hailed a hero for killing a coup plotter general during night-long skirmishes.
lk Milli Silahl IHA Bayraktar getiimiz hafta greve balad. Dualarnz bekliyor. pic.twitter.com/OgymTPFw5b
— Selcuk Bayraktar (@Slck_byrktr) 3 September 2016
The Bayraktar TB2, with a range of more than 150 km, has been used as a surveillance drone by the military since 2014. The drone can fly at a maximum altitude of 27,030 ft and has an endurance of more than 20 hours.
The project first began in 2007 and aims to meet Turkey’s need for domestically-produced weapons. The first flight was made in June 2009.
The 6.5 metre-long drone, which has a wing span of 12 metres, was developed by the Kale-Baykar joint venture between the Kale Group and Baykar Technologies. It has a maximum take-off weight of 630 kg.
— EuphratesShield (@EuphratesShield) 27 August 2016
The UAV currently holds the national record for endurance and altitude for Turkish aviation. It set the endurance flight record when it flew for a total of 24 hours and 34 minutes at 18,000 feet on 5 August 2014.
The altitude record was broken on 14 June 2014 when it reached 27,030 feet with full payload weight.
Bayraktar TB2 is also the first UAV to have been exported in Turkey's history when the unarmed version was exported to Qatar in 2012.
The armament process took one and a half years, with Baykar and Roketsan having launched a project of missile systems for the drone.