Turkey’s Baykar to spend $100 million on Ukraine drone production

ANKARA — Turkey’s leading drone maker, Baykar, will invest $100 million for three projects in Ukraine, including a production units for its Bayraktar TB2 attack drone, the company’s top executive said.

In remarks quoted by Ukrinform news agency, company CEO Haluk Bayraktar told Defence Industries Forum in Kyiv earlier this month that the footprint will include a production facility, a service center and a head office. “The construction has already begun,” he said. “It will take about a year and a half to complete. We plan to employ at least 300 people here. Cooperation continues.”

A Baykar official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is no authorized to speak to the media, said top executives view Ukraine as a “long-term, strategic partner rather than just a market.”

He said that building a production unit would absorb much of the planned investment, with plans including an “assembly line, composites and a planned engine unit.”

In Kyiv, Bayraktar said that the envisioned investment would be self-sufficient, eco-friendly and mutually beneficial since Ukraine has unique technologies for producing engines that power Turkish drones.

“We also face some challenges. These are the supply chain, the search and development of human capital through the impact of war and the regulatory environment, especially the rules that will support these investments,” he said.

Baykar started by acquiring land for the production unit in Ukraine. It won permission from the Ukrainian government to produce its TB2 and Akinci drones in the country in June. A month later, the company started constructing the plant.

But in August, Russian missiles struck the facilities of Ukrainian aircraft and engine manufacturer Motor Sich, a company deemed of strategic importance to Turkey’s local industry. Motor Sich had been taken over by the Ukrainian government in November 2022 as part of Kyiv’s war effort. The region housing the company’s headquarters, Zaporizhzhia, is partly occupied by Russian forces.

Motor Sich has strategic ties with the Turkish aerospace industry. The company and its affiliate Ivchenko Progress have been providing the AI-450 engines for Turkey’s most prominent armed drone, the Akinci, and their AI-25TLT for the Kizilelma, an unmanned fighter jet in the making and Anka-3, another combat drone. The Akinci and Kizilelma are built by privately-owned Baykar while the Anka-3 is produced by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). Motor Sich engines also power TAI’s ATAK II, a heavyweight attack helicopter. Talks were underway for a Motor Sich engine to power the T925, TAI’s utility helicopter.

A presidential aide in Ankara ruled out a Russian attack on Baykar’s Ukraine production unit, without elaborating why such a strike is deemed unlikely.

Burak Ege Bekdil is the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.

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