Turkey is Sending Bayraktar Drones to Rearm Ukraine After Heavy Air Losses

In an effort to bolster Ukrainian air power after it suffered significant losses in the first days of hostilities with neighbouring Russia, Turkey on March 2 reportedly airlifted an unknown number of Bayraktar TB2 unmanned attack drones to the country. The drones are thought to have been delivered through Poland using a Turkish Air Force Airbus A400M transport. 

Ukraine already fielded six Bayraktar drones from Turkey, at least half of which were reported to have been lost in combat alongside much of the country’s fleet of manned combat aircraft. The country is by far the largest client for the Bayraktar having ordered over 50, which compensates for its lack of manned precision strike aircraft suitable for short or medium range operations.

The Bayraktar is a relatively cheap and low cost attack platform which previously saw combat in Syria’s northern governate of Idlib, where the Turkish Military retains a large illegal presence, and saw combat with Syrian Arab Army forces seeking to reclaim their territory in early 2020. 

The Bayraktar has been widely criticised for its lack of survivability, as demonstrated against Syria’s relatively modest air defences where losses were reportedly heavy. With damage to airbases in Ukraine and the unaffordabiltiy of more capable drone classes leaving the Ukrainian Air Force with few other options for offensive operations, the Bayraktar remains one of the few options it has to field some form of offensive air power.

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