TB2 Drone Heading from Lithuania to Ukraine – Earlier this week, the Lithuanian government announced that it was set to transfer a Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 combat drone to Ukraine. What makes this single unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) so special is that the Lithuanian citizens paid for it via a crowdfunding effort.
According to Lithuanian Defence Minister Arvydas Anusauskas, citizens of the Baltic State were able to raise almost 6 million euros ($6.08 million) in May, largely from small donations.
Lithuania, which like Ukraine is a former Soviet republic, has been among the most active supporters of the Ukrainian cause and has provided military aid to Kyiv on a regular basis since Russia launched its unprovoked and unwarranted invasion on February 24 of this year.
A Huge Symbolic Gesture
Baykar, the Turkish company that developed the TB2, and Lithuania agreed that 1.5 million euros would be spent to arm the drone, and the rest of the money raised would be directed towards humanitarian aid for the Ukrainian people. Baykar has since delivered the drone to Lithuania with additional armaments. The drone has since been adorned with a logo of a hawk as well as the colors of the Lithuanian and Ukrainian flags.
The drone will be handed over to the Ukrainian military in the coming days.
“This will not change the course of the war,” Anusauskas told Reuters on Wednesday. “It’s a symbolic gesture from the Lithuanian nation to Ukraine.”
A True Tank Buster
Already Ukraine has reportedly received around 50 of the Turkish-made Bayraktar drones since the war began, and there are now talks to build a joint Baykar plant in Ukraine so that the UAVs could be built domestically. Even before Russia had mounted its invasion, Ukraine and Turkey had maintained close defense industry cooperation, a relationship that has flourished in recent years.
Ukrainian companies produce engines for Baykar, while Turkey was known to have sold more than 20 of the TB2 Bayraktars to Kyiv over the course of the past two years. After some 24 months of training, the UAVs became operational last year and were used in a reconnaissance mission over the Donbas region in late December. They are now being employed against Russian tanks.
The TB2 drones can loiter over tanks and artillery, and then launch missile strikes with deadly accuracy. Each can reach altitudes of 25,000 feet and fly for 27 continuous hours. Operated remotely from up to 300 km away, the Bayraktar drone is also capable of bearing four laser-guided bombs or rockets, for a total payload of some 150 kilograms.
The Ukrainians have equipped the drones with the MAM-L micro-guided munitions – believed to be the round used in the strikes against the Kremlin’s armored vehicles.
Even before the war in Ukraine, the TB2 had a proven combat history. The Turkish drones first earned worldwide fame amid the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War that broke out on Sept. 27, 2020, between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.