Ukraine received 50 Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones since Russian invasion
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov revealed on Tuesday that Ukraine has received 50 armed drones from Turkish arms company Baykar since Russia's 24 February invasion.
In a Facebook post Reznikov thanked Ukrainians and Baykar for the donation of three Bayraktar TB2 armed drones following a social media fundraising campaign that collected $20m to buy three of the aircraft.
Baykar on Monday said it refused to take the money and would instead donate the drones to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
“Thanks to the powerful cooperation of the presidents of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, our military received the first Bayraktar on the battlefield back in 2021, “ Renizkov said. “They have shown themselves very successfully in the battle.”
Reznikov said Ukraine and Turkey are continuing work to build a joint Baykar plant in Ukraine to locally build drones, an agreement that was signed before the war.
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“Ukraine's plans to buy Bayraktar are also large-scale,” he said. “Since 24 February only, the Ministry of Defence has armed our military with up to half a hundred 'airplanes'".
Reznikov added that Ukraine has already signed a memorandum of understanding for more drones, which were expected to be delivered in July.
“We have also received a new request from the command of the armed forces of Ukraine and thus, in the near future, almost all capacity of the Baykar Makina plant [in Turkey] will be focused on meeting the needs of the armed forces. It's about ordering dozens more drones,” he added.
Ukraine and Turkey have close defence industry cooperation, a relationship that has flourished in recent years.
Ukrainian companies also produce the Baykar’s engines, and Turkey was known to have sold more than 20 Bayraktars to Kyiv over the course of the past two years. Reznikov’s information significantly increased that number.
Frequent flights between Turkey and Poland over the last two months indicate that Turkey has continued to deliver TB2s and its MAM-L ammunition to Kyiv.
In January, Al-Monitor reported that Ukraine got a 30 percent discount for the TB2 drones, paying approximately $7m for each.
TB2s have a proven track record of success against several adversaries in conflicts in Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh, yet they have never faced an army with sophisticated electronic warfare capabilities and state-of-the-art air defence systems until the Russian invasion in Ukraine.
So far they have proved themselves effective in combating Russian troops deployed deep inside Ukrainian territory.
Middle East Eye previously reported that a Bayraktar TB2 was used by Ukraine to hit two oil depots well inside Russian territory in April, bringing the war behind the frontlines and embarrassing Russia's air defences.
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