Turkey's Baykar to complete Ukraine plant in two years
Turkish defence company Baykar stepped up its efforts in Ukraine to complete the construction of its manufacturing plant in two years, its chief executive said in an exclusive interview with Retuers on Thursday, after the company’s Bayraktar TB2 drones became highly renowned for their effective strikes against Russian forces.
Especially in the first few weeks of the Russian invasion, Ukraine counted on the aerial drones supplied to Ukraine by Baykar in its defense against Russian armour and anti-aircraft systems.
As part of an agreement between Turkey and Ukraine, signed just before Russia's Feb. 24 invasion, Baykar had agreed to build its second manufacturing plant in Ukraine.
Baykar’s CEO Haluk Bayraktar told Reuters on Thursday that plans were moving ahead despite some obstacles created by Russia's invasion.
"Right now we have architectural design. The detailed design phase is finished. And we will move ahead with construction actually... within two years we would like to finish it," Bayraktar said.
Deployment of the company's Bayraktar TB2 in conflicts from Syria to Azerbaijan and Ukraine, pushed Baykar into the global spotlight and transformed it into a major manufacturer and exporter.
As of October 2022, the TB2 drone is being sold to 24 countries including NATO member Poland, while the company signed deals with five countries for exports of its much larger version Akinci.
While the TB2 can lift off with up to 150 kg of missiles or equipment, Akinci, first delivered to Turkish armed forces last year, can fly much higher and take off with 10 times the weight.
Bayraktar said the company expected around $1 billion in export revenues this year, about 50% higher than last year's $650 million, with a further 50% growth expected in 2023.
The TB3, a short-runway-capable version of the TB2, is expected to finish its testing phase by the end of 2023, Bayraktar said.
The company is also expanding its focus to space technologies to complement its unmanned vehicle system. "We are now investing in space technologies... Not well established segments, but new areas where you can bring new innovative solutions," Bayraktar said.