Turkish Bayraktar Drones Are Wreaking Havoc on Russian Forces in Ukraine

The Bayraktar is a highly effective drone proven in Libya, Syria, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Ukraine – and some are already calling it the Kalashnikov of the 21st century.
Bayraktar TB2 of UAF

Bayraktar drones are surprisingly effective at destroying armored vehicles, tanks, and artillery, and they instill fear in the Russian troops from the first day the war started.

Nowadays, popular videos on social media show the remarkable success of Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones in the Ukraine war.

But, what role do they really play in the conflict? Are they as deadly as they seem to be? 

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Bayraktar TB2 

Bayraktar TB2
TB2 by Army.com.ua under CC BY 4.0

The Bayraktar is engineered and produced by a Turkish company, Bayar Technology. The firm was founded in 1986, and it has grown into a huge Turkish arm manufacturing owned by the Bayraktar family.

These Turkish drones are operated by 3 ground operators usually in a military truck, carrying laser-guided rockets, anti-tank missiles, or intelligence systems.

This weapon features real-time image transmission and processing capabilities that allow multiple users to monitor live, high-resolution, time-lapse-free transmissions.

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Bayraktar GCS Cutaway
Drone control unit by by Bayhaluk under CC BY-SA 4.0

Best of all, the entire system costs between 1 and 2 million dollars which is much cheaper than a fighter aircraft and more cost-effective than similar drones.

Specs

  • Crew: 3 per ground control station
  • Length: 6.5 meters (21 feet)
  • Payload: 150 kilograms (330 pounds)
  • Fuel capacity: 300 liters (79 US gallons)
  • Service ceiling: 25,000 feet (7,600 meters)
  • Endurance: 27 hours

A highly successful drone 

Bayraktars were successfully deployed against Russian and allied forces in the Libyan and Syrian wars. But, it was in the Nagorno Karabakh war of 2020 between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops that they finally proved their low-cost destructive power.

In Ukraine, it remains highly effective as the Bayraktars have destroyed dozens of tanks, light armored vehicles, artillery pieces, and recently, it helped sink a powerful warship, the Moskva.

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However, the actual success of TB2s during the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the precise numbers of their use have yet to be independently verified. It’s not even clear how many TB2s Ukraine possesses, and Turkish authorities have been reluctant to disclose details of drone sales to Ukraine while the war is still in process.

So, it isn’t easy to know the real impact Bayraktar operations have on the ground.

Ukrainian troops may exaggerate the damage done to the enemy, and Russia downplays its losses.

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Russian troops are usually an easy target

Bayraktars are small drones that shouldn’t be hard to shoot down as the Russian Army generally works in Tactical Battalion Groups that include anti-aircraft and anti-drone defense.

But… this is not always the case, and dispersed elements become easy prey.

EkranArayuzTaktikIHA
Drone pilot view by Bayhaluk under CC BY-SA 4.0

However, Bayraktar drones can’t attack more important and better-protected targets, so the Ukrainians have to be careful about when they use them.

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For these drones to be truly effective, they must operate in an environment where there are no aerial threats – and Russians have shot down many Bayraktars, although their use is more than justified as Russian troops lose much more than they gain.

From a modern weapon to a cultural icon

Because of its huge success, the Bayraktar has been transformed into a cultural icon after being one of the major defensive weapons of Ukraine, inflicting considerable damage to the Russian forces.

Its success is so big that a popular Ukrainian song was composed and dedicated to the drone that became one of the symbols of resistance to the Russian attack.

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The Bayraktar is famous because many families are naming their pets after this Turkish-made drone. Also, it is a social network phenomenon in Ukraine, and dozens of videos related to Bayraktar have been uploaded in the last month, and every day the content related to the drone is increasing.

Bayraktar drones have stopped Russian troops from advancing so far

The clever use of the Bayraktar drones has prevented a quick advance of the Russian troops, disrupting their supply chains and decimating its troops in the first month of the war. It has spread fear and other weapon systems such as the Javelin or Stinger.

The drone has many kills and is a sign that war has changed forever as drones are the weapon of the future – and hopefully, they will help end the war as soon as possible.

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Feature image credit: Bayraktar TB2 of UAF by Ministry of Defence of Ukraine. Licensed under CC by 4.0