Karen Kaya specializes in Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey for the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) within the TRADOC G-2.  She has worked on numerous projects in national security as a defense and security policy analyst.  Ms. Kaya has a BA from Boğaziçi University (in Istanbul, Turkey), and an MA from Brandeis University.

In today’s podcast, we talk with Ms. Kaya about the Bayraktar TB-2 UAV, its employment in recent conflicts including Nagorno-Karabakh and Russia-Ukraine, as well as the implications of Turkey becoming a global drone manufacturer and distributor.  The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview:

The Bayraktar TB-2 is a Turkish medium altitude, long endurance UAV capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations. Because of its inexpensive price point and ease of use, it has been dubbed the “Kalashnikov of the 21st century.”

The TB-2 is unique amongst combat drones in that it has a low radar cross-sectionand flight speed, thus making it difficult for air defense radar to detect. This allows the TB-2 toengage and destroy systems designed to provide short to medium  range air defense. It can deliver laser guided munitions that can adjust their trajectories in mid-flight to target.

Turkey has been training the Azerbaijani Armed Forces on how to effectively employ the TB-2 in combat. The Azeris used them systematically in the 2nd Nagorno-Karabakh Waragainst Armenia’s Soviet and Russian-made air defense systems to breach the line of contact and take territory before the cease-fire agreement was signed.

Their use and employment in Ukraine is different from that of Nagorno-Karabakh, as Ukraine is on the defensiveand has not trained with Turkey previously. However, it is important to note that this is the first time that the TB-2 has been used against Russian systems manned by Russian soldiers.

In the last few years, Turkey has emerged as a drone superpower. It is one of the four leading countries in the world to produce, use, and export armed drones.The quality and relative low cost of the TB-2 has allowed Turkey to sell significant quantities to medium-sized countries without large defense budgets in Europe, Asia, and Africa. This, in turn, expands Turkey’s geopolitical influence.

The other powers are watching. China is taking noteand se

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