Maldives purchased Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones, amid India tensions

Turkey has started supplying the Maldives with its famed combat drone, Bayraktar TB2, amid high tensions between the island nation and India.

The agreement between the two countries foresees a supply of a command control station and six TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) to meet the security requirements of Maldivian armed forces.

The shipment comes just months after Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu visited Türkiye in November 2023.

Muizzu talked with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and visited several Turkish defense industry companies.

The drone supply comes amid growing tensions between the Maldives and India since Muizzu came to power last year.

The island nation, which traditionally had close ties to India, has been pivoting toward Beijing since Muizzu was elected in October on a promise to end the country’s pro-India stance.

He has made an issue of the presence of the Indian troops in his country. He has pushed New Delhi to withdraw its nearly 80 military personnel stationed there to provide technical and medical assistance.

Developed by Baykar, the TB2s have helped swing conflicts in multiple countries, such as Azerbaijan, Libya and Ukraine, where they played a pivotal role in countering Russian forces early into Moscow’s invasion.

They have transformed Türkiye into a major global supplier and become integral to Erdoğan’s vision of a self-reliant defense industry, spanning from UCAVs to fighter jets and warships.

Bayraktar TB2 has been sold to some 33 countries to date, including NATO and EU member states.

Baykar has also signed agreements with nine countries for its Akıncı UCAV, the larger sibling of TB2 and Türkiye’s most advanced and sophisticated drone.

The TB2 can fly for more than 20 hours at 27,000 feet, carry a load of up to 120 kilograms (265 pounds) and weighs only 650 kilograms.

The platform is known for destroying some of the most advanced anti-aircraft systems, artillery systems and armored vehicles.

Baykar made exports worth a record $1.76 billion in 2023, it said on Thursday. It accounted for over 30% of Turkish defense companies’ all-time high sales of about $5.5 billion.

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