Number of armed drones used by Turkey rise to 140

The number of armed drones in use by Turkey has increased to 140, pro-government Daily Sabah reported on Monday. 

This fleet is about half the size of Turkey’s fighter jet force of 245 F-16s and it does not include the nearly 1,500 unarmed drones used by Turkish security forces, the 200 “mini-drones” in use or the 500 KARGU-2 “kamikaze drones” operated by the military, it said.

The latest Turkish armed drone to see service in the coming years is known as Akıncı, which completed tests for service this year. 

Turkey’s armed drones have become something of a symbol of its military interventions in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Nagoro-Karabakh in recent years. The mainstay of Turkey’s drone fleet in the TB-2 Bayraktar, developed by a firm owned by Haluk Bayraktar, whose brother is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son in law. 

According to the report, 160 armed Turkey’s drones are currently operated by the Turkish armed forces, National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) and other security forces in Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Qatar, all Turkish allies. Other nations, including Pakistan and Kazakhstan have expressed interest in acquiring Turkish drones as well. 

Turkey’s drones have however been involved in a number of abuses over the years in theatres where they are operated. The government is accused of using drones to maim and kill civilians in Iraqi Kurdistan as well as within Turkey’s own borders, according to multiple news outlets.