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Turkey is one of the world’s main manufacturers of drones developing an increasing variety of lethal armed drones, ranging from large, high-flying, bomb-laden ones to very small, low-flying UAVs that can form deadly swarms, according to forbes.com.
A Turkish drone maker, Baykar, has recently begun the conceptual design phase of what it hopes will become the country’s first combat drone. The privately-owned company will complete the conceptual design phase by 2023.
The planned drone will fly at an operational altitude of 40,000 feet. The artificial intelligence-powered aircraft will be able to perform missions for five hours, and will be connected to a satellite communications data network.
The fighter aircraft is expected to reach a cruise speed of 0.8 Mach and carry a maximum of 1 ton of ammunition. It would be used in close air support, strategic assault, hostile air defense system attack and missile assault missions.
According to c4isrnet.com, Baykar’s program comes as Turkey faces uncertainties about its new-generation fighter requirements. The United States suspended Turkey’s partnership in the Joint Strike Fighter program that builds the F-35 due to Turkey’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system.
Turkey is also running an indigenous fighter jet program, the TF-X, but this ambitious project has been crawling over technological snags and financing constraints.