https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/n ... rone-powerRevealed: how UK technology fuelled Turkey's rise to global drone powerUK-based manufacturer supplied crucial missile component to Turkish drone-maker during development stage
by Dan Sabbagh and Bethan McKernan, Wed 27 Nov 2019
Turkey was able to circumvent a US export ban on killer drones with the help of a missile component first developed in the UK, allowing Ankara to become an emerging power in the lethal technology, which experts warn is dangerously proliferating.
The vital assistance from a factory in Brighton has helped Turkey on its way to become the second biggest user of armed drones in the world – one of a number of countries emulating methods first used by the US in its “war on terror”.
Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones were heavily used in Ankara’s three operations to date against Kurdish-led forces in Syria, responsible for the killing of 449 individuals in one of them, amounting to a fifth of the officially declared fatalities.
They have also been used to kill what Turkey’s defence ministry said were “five PKK terrorists” across the border in Iraq this month, imitating the extraterritorial strikes pioneered by the US in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
But while the armed Bayraktar TB2 drones are manufactured by a Turkish company, they could not have been developed without the Hornet missile rack, which was devised and supplied by EDO MBM Technology, located on the outskirts of Brighton, somewhere around 2015.
An article in Jane’s Defence Review from May 2016 shows the Hornet was supplied to the Bayraktar TB2’s manufacturer Baykar at the crucial initial development stage. The Turkish company went on to develop its own missile racks.
Four years on, Turkey’s security forces run a fleet of 86 armed TB2s and the country is a fast emerging player in drone usage worldwide, a field that was dominated by the US and, to a lesser extent, the UK and Israel until three or four four years ago.
Chris Cole, the director of Drone Wars UK, said: “What we are seeing is countries like Turkey becoming a major player in drone usage, which is, like the US, prepared to engage in targeted killing outside its own borders.”
Today the field is awash with new manufacturers, including China as well as Turkey, and new buyers, including the United Arab Emirates, which has been behind their deployment in the ongoing Libyan civil war, supporting rebels led by Gen Khalifa Haftar.
Turkish TB2 drones, meanwhile, have been used in response by their opponents, the internationally recognised government based in Tripoli – in a conflict in which dozens of people have been killed by drone strikes.
The Turkish government’s goal had long been to deploy drones against the Kurdish PKK separatists who have been engaged in a long-running violent insurgency in the south-east of the country, near its borders with Syria and Iraq.