TB2 Bayraktar: Big Strategy for a Little Drone Briefings de l’Ifri, Ifri, April 17, 2023
Since 2016, the tactical drone TB2 Bayraktar—“standard bearer” in Turkish—has received considerable media attention, particularly during the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020. Thanks to Azerbaijan’s victory over its neighbor Armenia, the drone, manufactured by Baykar, is now a proven combat system with increasing numbers of export clients.
These sales are encouraged by the Turkish government, which is anxious to promote the products of its defense industrial base (DIB). The TB2 enjoys a reputation as an efficient and inexpensive platform and serves as a springboard for the Turkish defense aeronautics industry, which continues to make new announcements about future drone projects.
The Turkish drone has also played an important role in the conflict in Ukraine, where the Ukrainian forces have used it for strategic communications, further strengthening its reputation. Presented as a key factor in several Ukrainian military successes, including the halting of the Russian advance from Belorussia or the destruction of the Moskva cruiser, the TB2 has become one of the symbols of the early stages of the conflict, partly thanks to its distinctive shape. Baykar has also exploited the positive publicity around its flagship product to intensify its own marketing and spotlight its industrial accomplishments.
Beyond this media success story, which the Turkish government has capitalized on to promote its own achievements, it would be useful to put the TB2’s technical performance into perspective in terms of its endurance, capacity, and range. Examination of its military and commercial history enables a more impartial view of this weapons system and its integration into Ankara’s industrial trajectory and strategic plans.