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In recent years, Turkey has been locally developing various unmanned aerial systems (UAVs). Now it is also enhancing its status as a UAV exporter, with the possibility that Ankara would sell its unmanned products to Russia.
Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) began developing drones in 2013 after relations between Washington and Ankara soured. Turkish armed drones were even reportedly used to destroy multiple Russian-made, Syria-operated air-defense vehicles, according to nationalinterest.org. Moscow has disputed the claims, but that hasn’t stopped Russia from expressing interest in the Turkish UAVs.
This week Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said there was no issue in selling the drones, or other Turkish weapons and military equipment, to Russia. “Turkey is selling its drones to those who need them,” he was cited by Tass.
While Turkish drones were already sold to Ukraine, which is in conflict with Russia, the Turkish Foreign Minister said that the deal with Ukraine should not stand in the way of a potential sale to Russia. In 2019 Turkey sold its Bayraktar TB2 UAVs to Ukraine, which planned to equip them with the MAM-L micro-guided munitions. After nearly two years of training, the UAVs are operational and were used in a reconnaissance mission over the Donbas region in Ukraine earlier this month. “The deal [with Ukraine] is not aimed against Russia,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister added. “If Russia has the need to buy our products, it can buy them, just like we earlier purchased its S-400 [air defense systems].”