Wednesday, July 21, 2010
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish Aerospace Industries, or TAI, one of the country's top defense firms, unveiled Tuesday the nation's first locally designed and developed, large-scale drone at the Farnborough Airshow 2010 in Britain, one of the world's top defense fairs.
The medium-altitude, long-endurance drone, named the Anka (Phoenix), is designed to operate at 30,000 feet and boast 24-hour endurance, TAI said Wednesday.
The Anka unmanned aerial vehicle is scheduled to take off for its maiden flight in October and is set for full operating capability by late 2012, the company said.
Turkey is planning to use the Anka for reconnaissance and target acquisition purposes against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which in recent months has intensified attacks on Turkish targets in the country's southeast from bases in neighboring northern Iraq.
The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
TAI originally launched the $92 million Anka program in 2004, but the project faced development problems that caused delays.
There are plans to manufacture four prototypes as part of the program.
The Turkish Air Force has not formally placed any orders but is eventually expected to acquire roughly 30 Ankas, according to a defense procurement official.
The Anka's original roll-out ceremony took place at a TAI plant near Ankara on July 16 with National Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül in attendance.
At that ceremony, TAI and procurement officials said a few countries, including Pakistan, also are interested in buying the Anka.
One TAI official said an armed version of the Anka was possible but was not currently in the works.
Defense industry sources said the Anka's ultimate role was still unclear, but members of the TAI team producing the drone said they were confident it would become a key part of Turkey's electronic spying arsenal.
The Anka has a maximum payload capacity of 200 kilograms and will fly at a speed of 75 knots, officials said.
Turkey also accepted the delivery of six Israeli-produced Heron drones, which can also fly at an altitude of up to 30,000 feet for 24 hours.
Four of those platforms are operational now, while Turkey is expected to receive four more Herons later this summer.