Albania latest country to buy Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones

A Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone is displayed at victory parade in Baku Azerbaijan after Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on December 10 2020. Photo Getty Image.

Turkish drone magnate Baykar continues to draw attention with its world-renowned Bayraktar TB2 (Tactical Block 2) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) as it continuously adds new countries to its customer list.

Albania is the latest customer interested in striking a deal to procure this particular combat drone, which is already owned by Azerbaijan, Qatar, Ukraine and will be delivered to Poland under a recently inked deal.

The combat drone has been operated by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in Syria and Libya in various roles, from neutralizing enemy air defense systems or securing airports along with its being used by Azerbaijan’s army in delivering a heavy blow to Armenian occupying forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. These developments were significant in paving the way for the drones’ export abroad.

Albania’s interest in acquiring the Bayraktar TB2s became official after the country’s parliament allocated an additional budget of more than 8 million euros for such procurement.

The approval came after Albanian Interior Minister Bledar Çuçi and military officials paid a visit to Turkey.

After visiting the Bayraktar production facility in Istanbul, Çuçi signaled that his country would likely purchase the drone. “We are evaluating the possibility of using Turkish UCAVs for civilian and military purposes in Albania,” he said.

Among the countries using Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs, Poland’s interest was particularly important since it became the first NATO member state to commit to purchasing the Turkish drones.

The country signed the related agreement to purchase 24 Bayraktar TB2s back in May.

Authorities in Turkey say the country has become the world’s fourth-largest drone producer since Ankara took the helm for domestic production to reduce reliance on Western arms.

The Bayraktar – with its electronic, software, aerodynamic, design and sub-main systems fully designed and developed nationally – stands out among the world’s most advanced UAV systems in its class with its flight automation and performance.

It has a record altitude of 27,030 feet for over 24 hours in the air and can carry 150 kilograms (over 330 pounds) of payload. It can operate day and night.

The drone was first delivered to the TSK in 2014 and upgraded with armaments for the first time in 2015. It is currently used by the Gendarmerie General Command, General Directorate of Security Forces and the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) in their operations.

Apart from the Bayraktar TB2, another drone developed by a Turkish firm, namely the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the Anka medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UCAV, drew attention abroad with Tunisia becoming the first country to acquire the product.

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