UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: Turks Want UAV to Watch Kurds

October 26, 2011 at 9:53 pm Leave a comment

Eye in the Sky

Last week’s attack on Turkish military forces by Kurdish militants and the subsequent incursion by Turkish forces into Kurdish areas of Iraq give new impetus to Turkey’s development of an unmanned aerial vehicle, according to Turkish press reports.

Turkey’s first homegrown UAV, the Anka, has had its first successful two-hour test flight and is ready for use, the Turkish newspaper Zaman reported Oct. 25. It is slated to be deployed in 2012.

Turkey (Map from CIA World Factbook)

Anka, which is Turkish for Phoenix, has been in development since 2004 – suffering some setbacks along the way. Zaman said the UAV is important in Turkey’s reignited battle with militant Kurdish separatists – especially because of strained relations with Israel, the previous supplier of Turkey’s UAVs.

After a raid by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party – known by the acronym PKK – into southeastern Turkey left 24 soldiers dead and more than 100 wounded, the Turkish military pounded parts of northern Iraq believed to be hiding PKK fighters with artillery and airstrikes. It was the worst PKK attack in Turkey in nearly two decades.

Turkey previously purchased Israeli Heron UAVs, but maintaining them has been problematic since relations deteriorated between Israel and Turkey. Last year nine Turkish nationals were killed when Israeli commandos raided a flotilla of boats trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Turkey demanded an apology and restitution to victims’ families, which Israel refused. Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and trade and military ties between the former regional allies all but collapsed.

Israel’s rapid aid response in the wake of Sunday’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Turkey near Van (See map), may help heal the rift.

Anka in flight ( courtesy of Turkish Aerospace Industries)

In the meantime, the Anka’s developers say their UAV, with a wingspan of 56 feet, can fly at a speed of 75 knots, reach an altitude of 30,000 feet and remain in the air for up to 24 hours at a time.

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Entry filed under: Aircraft, Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, Homeland Security, International Relief, Iraq, National Security and Defense, Special Operations, Unmanned Aircraft, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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