The UK looks to build a new fleet of drones amid recent conflict

UK fleet drones conflict

The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) wants to produce a new fleet of cost-effective armed drones as it watched the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Defense officials have stated they believe using lower-cost Turkish drones played a crucial part in Azerbaijan tactics.

Sources from the Ministry of Defense shared that it wants to produce its own low-cost armed drones in the five-year defense review, which is set to be released early next year.

Earlier in the month, UK defense secretary Ben Wallace shared that the Turkish drone used in the war is a good example of how other countries are leading the way. He went on to add that the drones have “been responsible for the destruction of hundreds of armored vehicles and even air defense systems.”

The Turkish TB2 drones used in the war were shown off by various accounts linked to the Azerbaijan military. The graphic videos showed how the drones were used to take out key positions. A video posted by the Azerbaijan defense ministry shows what is believed to be TB2 drones discovering enemy locations and calling in missile strikes.

Bayraktar TB2

The Bayraktar TB2 drone from Baykar is a medium altitude long endurance drone used for both surveillance and armed missions. So far, it has been used by Azerbaijan, Libya, Qatar, Turkey, and Ukraine. It can fly up to 220 kph (136 mph) and stay in the air for up to 27 hours. It uses an unknown 100 HP ICE fuel-injected engine with a 79-gallon gas tank.

When armed, it can carry up to four bombs, including anti-tank missiles, precision-guided missiles, and laser-guided rockets. When it comes to the surveillance operations, it is equipped with EO, IR, LD, and targeting sensors, with an upgrade to the system coming soon.

Turkey and Azerbaijan

The Turkish-made drone has also been used in the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that as a result of the Turkish drones, “casualties on the front have shrunk.” He went on to add, “these drones show Turkey’s strength. This also empowers us.”

Armenia said took down an enemy drone flying in Armenian airspace above the town of Abovyan in the Kotayk Province. The fighting broke out in the landlocked region of Nagorno-Karabakh with non-stop fighting. Both countries blame each other for the brutal battle, with the Azerbaijan president saying the fighting would stop if Armenia withdrew from the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The region went into landlock after war broke out between the two countries in the early 1990s, ending just three years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ever since, the region has been in limbo, with both countries taking ownership of it. The region is roughly 1,700 square miles and is home to around 146,000 as of a 2013 estimate.

Photo: Valery Sharifulin

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