Turkish war drone factory to open in Ukraine with plans to supply to 30 countries

By Isaac M February 7, 2024

Turkish defence company Baykar has started building a factory near Kyiv that will employ around 500 people and manufacture either its TB2 or TB3 drone models, the company’s chief executive has said.

Turkish-made Bayraktar drones have gained prominence globally after being used by Ukraine’s military to thwart Russian forces by destroying armoured vehicles and artillery systems.

Baykar has said it has signed export deals for its TB2 drone with 30 countries. These include Ukraine, Ethiopia, Libya and Azerbaijan since 2018, according to think tank SIPRI.

“Our factory is being built we need about 12 months to finish construction and then we will move on to internal machinery, equipment, and organizational structure,” Baykar CEO Haluk Bayraktar said on the sidelines of the World Defense Show in Riyadh.

“The factory in Ukraine is a big one, we are planning to employ around 500 people,” he said.

Bayraktar noted that capacity would total around 120 units every year, but said it was still not clear whether production at the Ukrainian factory would focus on the TB2 or TB3 drone model.

A drone made by Turkish manufacturer Baykar is seen at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Asked if security issues related to the ongoing conflict would pose a concern for the plant, he said that plans were “fully moving ahead” and that “nothing” could halt them.

Bayraktar also said the Istanbul-based firm’s plans to start production in Saudi Arabia in the next two years were on track.

The announcement follows an agreement in July to sell the Bayraktar Akinci, another kind of drone, to Saudi Arabia in what Baykar described as the biggest defence contract in Turkey’s history.

A young man looks at the Bayraktar TB2 drone, manufactured by Turkey’s Baykar

(AFP via Getty Images)

Other defence firms at the event are also announcing deals with Riyadh – on Monday U.S. weapons maker Lockheed Martin signed agreements for Saudi Arabian companies to manufacture parts of its missile defense system.

Bayraktar said that, looking at the current year, the firm planned to double domestic production of the Akinci, which stood at 36 units in 2023, while TB2 output would stay unchanged at 230 units.

It also aims to produce the new models and the TB3 drones “in the tens,” he added.

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