Kyrgyzstan hails arrival of devastating Turkish drones amid Tajik border tensions
The impoverished Central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan is celebrating the arrival of Turkish Bayraktar drones, which have played a pivotal role in several conflicts since late 2020.
Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security head Kamchybek Tashiev this month posted photos on Facebook beside a legendary Turkish Bayraktar Akıncı drone, declaring “‘Akıncı’ is ours”.
Baykar, the Turkish manufacture of the Bayraktar TB2 and Bayraktar Akıncı, posted on social media about a visit by a Kyrgyz delegation to the Özdemir Bayraktar National Technology Centre in Turkey. Tashiev was among the visitors.
Bayraktar shot to global attention when they were credited with crushing Armenia’s Russian-made military hardware during a devastatingly one-sided 44-day war over the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh enclave that began in September 2020. The drones have since proved decisive, often against Russian military kit, in Syria, Libya, Ethiopia and, most famously, Ukraine.
The Bayraktar Akıncı is Baykar’s latest drone and was first deployed by the Turkish military in August 2021 and supplied to Azerbaijan’s air force this year. Pakistan is reportedly looking to buy Bayraktar TB2s and the Akıncı next year.
Three Bayraktar TB2s were delivered to Kyrgyzstan last year. On September 13, fighting broke out on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.
Both governments have shut overland frontier crossings, stifling trade and dividing families along the largely undemarcated border and large numbers of ethnic Kyrgyz people are now trying to leave Tajikistan.
The Tajik authorities claimed 15 people were killed when a Kyrgyz drone hit a mosque.
The Akıncı flies at a higher altitude than the TB2 and at over 12 metres long is almost twice the length of the TB2. It has a 20-metre wingspan compared to the TB2’s 12 metres, which allows it to carry more missiles.
Baykar said the Akıncı is the first Turkish drone capable of firing an air-launched cruise missile.
Kyrgyzstan’s rival, Tajikistan, also allegedly purchased TB2s, although this has not been confirmed and there is no evidence any delivery was made.
In May Iran opened a factory in Tajikistan for Ababil-2 drones, a much smaller drone than Baykar’s products and lacks their formidable battlefield record.
Turkmenistan bought TB2s in 2020.
The barren landscape of Central Asia offers little protection from drone strikes. Picture credit: Wikipedia