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The Bayraktar TB2 Drone Seems Like It Can Destroy Anything In Ukraine

Bayraktar TB2 Drone
Bayraktar TB2 Drone of the Ukrainian Air Force.

Bayraktar TB2 Drone, Explained – The Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone has been gaining acclaim recently, as the UAV appears to have been instrumental in the Ukrainian sinking of the Russian Black Sea flagship Moskva and two Russian Raptor patrol boats (also in the Black Sea). In the months prior to these attacks, the TB2 gained notoriety through video footage of its hitting Russian convoys, tanks, and surface-to-air missile defense systems.

TB2 – A Short History 

Though the war in Ukraine has significantly enhanced the TB2’s public profile, the conflict is far from the drone’s first.

Although the TB2 has been heavily used domestically by Turkey against opponents such as the P.K.K., the drone has also been sold to at least thirteen additional countries and has performed well in Syria, Libya, and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Notably, in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijani-controlled TB2s decimated hundreds of Armenia’s Russian-supplied armored vehicles, giving Azerbaijan a decisive advantage in the war.

TB2 – Specs 

The TB2 is flat and grey, with angled wings and a two-bladed variable pitch rear propeller. As a recent New Yorker profile highlighted, the craft is small enough to be transported in a flatbed truck and costs a fraction of the price of American and Israeli-made drones.

This UAV reaches speeds of up 80 to 138 mph, has a maximum altitude of somewhere between 19,000 and 27,000 feet, and has a long-term operation endurance of 27 hours. The TB2 can carry up to 330 pounds of munitions, including four laser-guided MAM-C or MAM-L air-to-ground missiles.

What has made the TB2’s performance so impressive is its ability to take out the very same anti-aircraft systems designed to stop it. This has been partially attributed to the drone’s lower radar cross-section, which allows it to breach Russian air defenses undetected, then employ its laser-guided munitions.

TB2 – Far More Than a Killer 

Yet the TB2 is fit for more than just strike missions. It can also serve as a communications relay, spotter, jammer, sensor, target designator, and decoy. It can gather intelligence, conduct surveillance, and undertake reconnaissance operations. The drone, despite its lack of speed and range, is a versatile tool.

It is still unclear just how many TB2s Ukraine still has in the skies. Russia has claimed upwards of 40 taken out, which would have exhausted all of Ukraine’s initial supply. Some recent evidence, however, suggests that Ukraine is receiving fresh TB2s, straight off the production line, from Turkey.

This has caused a diplomatic spat between Russia and Turkey, and it is unclear for how long Turkey can maintain its tenuous relationship with Russia while approving Bayraktar’s shipments to Ukraine.

TB2 Drone

TB2 Drone. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Compared to the beginning of the war, Ukraine is releasing fewer videos of TB2s targeting convoys, armor, and surface-to-air missile systems. This might suggest Russia has adjusted its air-defense to counter this UAV, potentially with fighters or artillery. But if the TB2 continues to be involved in attacks such as that on the Moskva or recent oil field raids into Russia, Russia will continue to exert pressure on Turkey, where possible, to stop the TB2’s export to Ukraine.

What is less certain is the drone’s future in other parts of the world. Countries such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Qatar, Libya, Morocco, and Poland have all made purchases. In addition to large cost-savings, obtaining weapons from Turkey doesn’t necessarily involve any human rights oversight, making wider-spread global use of the TB2 likely.

TB2

TB2 drone of Turkish drone-maker Baykar is seen at a stand during the first day of SAHA EXPO Defence & Aerospace Exhibition in Istanbul, Turkey, November 10, 2021. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo

Alex Betley is a recent graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy where he was an International Security Studies Civil Resistance Fellow and Senior Editor with the Fletcher Security Review.

Written By

Alex Betley is a recent graduate of the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy where he was an International Security Studies Civil Resistance Fellow and Senior Editor with the Fletcher Security Review.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Alex

    May 12, 2022 at 10:11 am

    The author forgot to write what percentage of the destroyed bayraktars in Ukraine. They are very close to 100%. But you won’t say that, will you? 🙂

    OK. In Ukraine, 10,000 Russian and 1,000 Russian tanks are destroyed every day. It’s not even funny to read, but it’s not interesting anymore. Let’s talk about the collapsed Russian economy:

    The Russian ruble has become the best world currency in 2022. On Thursday, May 12, Bloomberg reported.

    According to the latest data, the ruble has grown by 11 percent against the dollar since the beginning of 2022. Thus, it has become the leader among the 31 major currencies monitored by the agency’s experts.

    The strengthening of the currency came after the measures taken by the Russian government against the backdrop of Western sanctions, writes Bloomberg. It is clarified that the authorities introduced capital controls, and also obliged exporters to sell foreign exchange earnings. In particular, in March, the President of Russia announced a new procedure for paying for gas by European consumers.

    As similar examples, the authors of the article cite the Turkish lira and the Argentine peso, which failed to achieve maximum growth rates after the decisions of the governments of these countries. The Russian currency, on the contrary, responded well to the measures taken, Bloomberg experts conclude.

    Only facts, not squeals and fantasies of Bandera Nazis and Slavophobes.

  2. mcswell

    May 12, 2022 at 11:35 am

    Alex wrote “The author forgot to write what percentage of the destroyed bayraktars in Ukraine. They are very close to 100%. But you won’t say that, will you?”

    Alex, you didn’t read the article very carefully, did you? The author said that Russia *claimed* (a claim not verified) to have shot down “upwards of 40… which would have exhausted all of Ukraine’s initial supply”, i.e. 100%.

    Next time try to read the article before you spout off. Otherwise you just further damage your credibility. Oh wait–your credibility here is already zero, so maybe it’s not possible to *further* damage it–so just carry on with your nonsense!

  3. Alex

    May 12, 2022 at 11:52 am

    Russia’s oil revenues have grown by 50% since the beginning of the year, despite trade restrictions imposed after the start of a special operation in Ukraine, writes Bloomberg citing a report by the International Energy Agency.

    “Russia has earned approximately $20 billion monthly since the beginning of 2022 from cumulative sales of oil and petroleum products at an export level of 8 million barrels per day,” the document says. As the IEA noted, supplies from Russia continue to flow despite the fact that the EU is currently discussing a ban on energy imports, and major international oil companies Shell and Total Energy promise to stop purchases.

    Russian energy resources are in high demand in Asia, especially in India and China. Experts emphasize that the reduction in the supply of refined products from Russia, such as diesel fuel, fuel oil and naphtha, has exacerbated tensions on world markets. At the same time, stocks of so-called middle distillates (some types of petroleum products that are obtained as a result of the distillation of hydrocarbons, including heating and marine fuels) are at their lowest level since 2008.

    Another collapse of the Russian economy. I am sure that in Russia they clap and thank you.

  4. Vladolph Putler

    May 12, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    Why aren’t we hearing about Bayraktars? Because it was causing the noted diplomatic friction. Solution? Ukraine makes less of a show of it, Turkey sends more Bayraktars. Everyone’s happy, right? 😉

    Last I heard there was a severe choke point in manufacturing though. So Ukraine is manufacturing the engines and doing final assembly. With this arrangement, the volume is difficult to determine, but probably *much* higher.

    And with the manufacturing capabilities and costs involved, Ukraine can afford to lose as many as the Russian trolls claim.

    I wonder if they were used as ISR for pulverizing Russian armor/bridging attempts near Bilohorvika? Oh those poor Russsians. They don’t learn very quickly. THREE TIMES they got cooked doing almost exactly the same thing, in almost exactly the same place.

  5. Paul

    May 12, 2022 at 4:28 pm

    We’ve heard it before Ukraine is winning the war….??????

  6. Alex

    May 15, 2022 at 11:28 am

    A demobilized French soldier, author of the book “Get up and go thanks to science” Adrien Boke went to Ukraine on a humanitarian mission and spent three weeks there.

    Upon his return, he decided to convey to the French information about the events he had witnessed in Ukraine.

    “I take full responsibility for what I say. While in Ukraine, I witnessed war crimes. All of them were committed by the Ukrainian army. But in France we don’t talk about it!

    When I returned to France from Ukraine, I was shocked: TV channels invite as experts people who have not been to Ukraine and do not know anything about what is happening there now. However, they dare to speculate about these events. Between what I hear from the TV screen and what I saw with my own eyes is an abyss.

    Azov fighters are everywhere. With neo-Nazi stripes. It shocks me that Europe is supplying weapons to neo-Nazis. Not only do they not hide their views. They advertise them. I worked with these people and treated them.

    Being there, there was nothing I could do. Just watch and make videos. I have this footage and will use it as evidence of Ukraine’s crimes.

    I witnessed how the Ukrainian military shot through the knees of captured Russian soldiers and shot in the head higher-ranking officers.

    I have personally seen American videographers making fake footage from the scene of the events staging.

    All destroyed civilian buildings, given out by Ukraine for bombardment of civilians, are nothing more than the result of inaccurate shooting by Ukrainians at military facilities.

    The Armed Forces of Ukraine hide ammunition in residential buildings at night, without even informing the residents. This is called using people as a shield, ”Boke quotes one of the French media.

    The Washington Post recently drew attention to the fact that Ukrainian troops are placing military equipment in residential areas of cities in an attempt to counter the Russian Armed Forces, which threatens the lives of civilians.

    Boke also spoke about the untruthfulness of Western media reports about the events in Bucha.

    “Bucha is a staging. The bodies of the dead were moved from other places and deliberately placed in such a way as to produce shocking footage, ”the French author noted.

    The documents confirming this were submitted to the Federal Security Service – how, who – there are relevant intercepts – on what transport he came to this settlement and created the conditions for organizing this provocation.

    Soon all the collected evidence about the crimes of the Nazis in Ukraine will be seen by the whole world. And the most important thing is the help of Western countries to the Nazis of Ukraine and assistance in their crimes.

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