Turkey builds independent drone capacity

Drone proliferation continues unabated, with as many as 43 countries having drone programmes.

Turkey has under development a medium range, long endurance (MALE) drone similar to the Israeli Heron and Hermes, and the British Watchkeeper. Known as the ANKA, this drone would give the Turks independent drone capabilities and reduce their reliance on Israeli and American drones for surveillance. The Turkish drone programme is part of the worldwide proliferation of drones and remote spying capabilities. The Turks also have a number of smaller mini drones under development.

Turkey has been reliant on Israeli Heron drones that it purchased from Israel Aircraft Industries, but now has very poor relations with Israel. Previously several of the Herons have had to be returned to IAI for maintenance and repairs, but now that the two year guarantee period is up, Turkey has made arrangements with a local company, Tusas Engine Industries to repair the Heron motors, and other repairs will be made by Turkish Aerospace Industries.

There is a plan for armed ANKA drones, called Phoenix, but no plans at present to build them, according to Turkish engineers. Turkish engineers also state that Turkish drones would be more suitable for Turkish conditions than the Israeli imports.

ANKA drones are expected to be in service in the Turkish military in 2013, according to the head of the Turkish drone programme. At that time presumably the drone would be available to export to the four or five prospective purchasers that the Turks claim to have (including Pakistan).

This male drone will prove to be competition for the British Watchkeeper drone, which was sold to the British public partly on the basis of creating an export industry for British drones.

Turkey appears to have one certain sale of the ANKA to Egypt, and others under consideration with Saudi Arabia and several North African countries. The Turkish drone has an competitive advantage in countries which aren’t likely to buy from the leading Israeli suppliers.

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