A Turkish drone manufacturer which has supplied unmanned aerial vehicles used by Ukraine during its defense against the Russia invasion says demand has soared to the point where it has a three-year-long waitlist.
Haluk Bayraktar, the CEO of Turkish defense firm Baykar, said in an interview with Ukraine’s Come Back Alive foundation that the company currently has the manufacturing capacity to build twenty of its Bayraktar TB2 drones a month, but wants to up that with a new facility in Ukraine, which it agreed to build last year.
“We see Ukraine as our strategic partner,” Bayraktar said, adding that the company had already embarked on building the Ukrainian factory.
“We as Baykar embarked on building a factory in Ukraine, a research center and manufacturing excellence center where we wanted to build all the systems,” he said.
Bayraktar told the Come Back Alive foundation that a surge in demand for the company’s UAVs meant it was “booked for about 3 years now.”
“As these systems prove themselves on the field, more countries are interested in them,” he said.
Representatives for Baykar did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the plans.
Baykar’s drones, especially its famed Bayraktar TB2 drones, have gained legendary status in Ukraine after they were used early in the campaign to destroy large numbers of Russian vehicles. Their popularity even inspired a viral folk song.
Bayraktar TB2s took on a prominent role in Ukraine’s early efforts in defending against Russia and were credited with destroying invading Russian tanks and armored vehicles.
Baykar told the foundation that he wants the Ukraine plant to manufacture these drones along with its other models — the Bayraktar Akıncı and the Bayraktar Kizilelma.
In June, the company donated three Bayraktar TB2 drones to Ukraine after turning down $20 million in crowdfunded money. The company asked that the funds be redirected to the “struggling people of Ukraine” in a statement shared on Twitter.
Although a key part of Ukraine’s early military response to Russia, experts told Insider that the Turkish drones were becoming less effective as Russian forces step up their air defenses and electronic warfare.
Beatrice Nolan is based in Insider’s London office, where this first appeared. She graduated from the University of York with a bachelor’s degree in English.