They put everyone into a fright: why the West does not want to supply Turkey with the components for drones

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They put everyone into a fright: why the West does not want to supply Turkey with the components for drones
They put everyone into a fright: why the West does not want to supply Turkey with the components for drones
4 December 2020, 14:28Technology
Successful actions of Turkish drones in the Karabakh war evoked problems for Turkey.

Victor Kuzovkov

Kazakhstan plans to buy the Bayraktar TB3 drones from Turkey - the next version of the drone, which has become sensational in Syria, Libya, and then Karabakh. Several Russian media outlets wrote about this at once, and although this information has not yet received official confirmation, it can be considered quite plausible. In any case, Astana's interest in this type of weapons was manifested for a long time, which was expressed, in particular, in the purchase of the Chinese reconnaissance and strike drones "Wing Loong", as well as several other short-range systems currently in service with the Kazakh army. The Turks, as you know, are also not averse to selling their drones on the foreign market.

It is reported that the new model should become even less visible to the enemy radar, get new avionics and, possibly, more hardpoints for weapons. And all this looks outwardly reliable and almost problem-free, but nevertheless, upon closer examination, it turns out that either the news has serious inaccuracies, or Kazakhstan intends to buy drones, which are simply not in nature yet.

Most recently, the Turkish UAV manufacturer Bayraktar TB2, Baykar Makina, presented a new version of its brainchild, the Bayraktar TB2S UAV. Its main difference from the previous version is the presence of a satellite control system, which significantly expands the range of this drone. Previously, as you know, it was limited to a range of 150-200 kilometers, depending on the terrain and weather conditions, it did not work further due to the limited capabilities of the radio command control system installed on board. The new model allows these restrictions to be removed, and now the drone can be sent as far as the available fuel supply allows.

The difference is serious, we agree. But there seems to be no talk of any version of Bayraktar TB3, made using more advanced technology, including stealth, and capable of destroying Russian S-400 complexes. That is, we are dealing with a useful modernization, and not with a qualitative breakthrough, as we are sometimes hinted at.

Of course, we can assume that the manufacturer, purely for marketing purposes, will release a novelty on the market with the TB3 index. A small but quite working trick. It has no direct relation to engineering and technology, but commercially it can be very justified. But is that the only thing?

The triumph of Turkish drones, oddly enough, has a very unpleasant response to their prospects. Alas, some of Turkey's partners, who do not share its approaches to resolving the Karabakh conflict, have decided to limit or even prohibit the supply to this country of their components and assemblies used in the production of unmanned aerial vehicles, in particular, Bayraktar TB2. For example, the Bombardier Recreational Products corporation, which owns the Austrian manufacturer of Rotax 912 engines installed on this type of drones, announced the termination of supplies to Turkey. Ankara simply does not have its own engine in this weight and size category, and how long it will take to develop it is not yet known. Also banned was the supply of an optical station for this drone, laser targeting systems and some other important components of a modern unmanned aerial vehicle, without which it simply turns into a beautiful but useless piece of plastic.

In this regard, Turkey's attempts to find suitable engines in Ukraine and in other countries look with particular interest. Information about this periodically slips through the specialized media, and it seems very likely that it is not far from the truth. No, there is no need to say that this is, in principle, impossible. But it is highly doubtful that the Turkish manufacturer will be able to quickly find an adequate replacement for a very specific, niche engine, the quality and characteristics of which significantly exceed the developments of the same Ukrainian designers. That is, this clearly does not come from a good life, and it is obvious that these replacements will not affect the combat characteristics of new drones in the best way...

It should be noted, incidentally, that other sectors of the Turkish defense industry are also experiencing problems. In particular, Rolls-Royce has pulled out of a joint project to develop an engine for the fifth-generation Turkish fighter TF-X. For Turkey itself, which has no experience at all in the development and production of such complex technological products, this is tantamount to a disaster - apart from the mentioned British company and three or four manufacturers in the USA, France and Russia, no one else in the world has relevant competencies. With the current relations with the United States, one can simply forget about cooperation with GE or Pratt & Whitney on such a sensitive issue, the French, with their powerful Armenian lobby, will probably also be wary. What, to bow to Russia? It is highly doubtful that Erdogan, who has been consistently "spitting in soup" in Moscow for several years now, will be very happy about such a prospect. Although there is also China, which has managed to steal something from Russian engine builders. But these guys will manage to steal something from Turkey itself, they will become...

The Turkish ATAK 2 attack helicopter, whose engine is being developed jointly with the Americans, has similar problems. No, they have not yet left the project, but according to available information, work on the project has slowed down a lot and it is unlikely to be completed in 2024 as planned.

That is, the Turks' stake on serious cooperation with Western manufacturers was not entirely successful. It was correct in the previous paradigm, when Turkey was a loyal NATO soldier, unquestioningly fulfilled all orders of Washington and Brussels and did not give any reason to doubt its loyalty. But as soon as Ankara showed obstinacy, began to defend its national interests (no matter how she understood them), the “partners” instantly “closed the tap” of technological support, and ambitious Turkish military projects were literally suspended in the air.

All this is important for understanding how we should treat the news about the purchase of Turkish military products by one state or another, in particular, drones. Yes, there are very sensitive points, such as Donbass, where not even the most modern drones can create serious problems for us. But in most cases, we can only talk about the alleged supply of equipment, inferior not only to the most advanced models to date, but also to their own previous versions. And we shouldn't throw up any hysterics about the acquisition of Turkish drones by the same Kazakhstan. Rather, it is a reason to shrug your shoulders and take pity on your neighbors, who apparently have nowhere to put their money. Therefore, it is not so important what index will be assigned to the next drone, which they hope to "sell" to simple-minded Central Asian states - at least "TB3", at least "TB10" in general. It won't make him fly and fight better...

Although this question has one more aspect. Despite all the victorious reports of Russian TV, the further we go, the better we understand that the Kremlin suffered a crushing defeat in the Transcaucasus. The propagandists happily talk about the cunning plan and about our peacekeepers in Karabakh, but it is just necessary to say that the decisive advertising campaign of Turkish weapons, which took place quite recently in the area of our traditional responsibility, led to sadness both for our military-industrial complex and for our geopolitical interests, the result. The probable purchase of Turkish drones by Kazakhstan was, first of all, a consequence of the fact that they successfully destroyed Soviet and Russian-made systems designed to fight them. That is, they have not only proven themselves well, but have proven themselves well against our weapons.

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