The United Arab Emirates has received the first batch of Turkish-armed drones that it ordered from Turkey as part of fast-improving ties between the two former regional rivals.
Turkey delivered 20 armed drones to the Emirati earlier this month, Reuters reported today, citing Turkish sources. The delivery marks the first shipment of 120 Bayraktar TB2 drones that the UAE sought to buy from Turkey, according to a Middle East Eye report. Saudi Arabia is also seeking to buy Turkish-made drones, Reuters said.
In early September, Haluk Bayraktar, CEO of Baykar — the manufacturer of the TB2 — said the number of countries that purchased the drones have reached 24.
“In four years, Bayraktar TB2 became the most exported armed unmanned aerial vehicle system in the world,” Bayraktar said. “Currently, our annual production capacity is 200 for Bayraktar TB2s and we plan to increase it to 500 … next year,” he added.
Bayraktar drones' popularity has significantly increased after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. TB2s were also effective in tipping the scale in favor of Turkey's allies in the Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh conflicts.
The timing of the delivery also fueled speculations, as it came just after Sedat Peker, an exiled mafia leader based in the UAE, dropped bombshell allegations against figures close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
However, Twitter accounts that were used to air his allegations went silent after his latest accusations led two of Erdogan's aides to resign. Turkish media, citing people close to Peker, reported that he was sternly warned by the Emirati authorities to stop all of his digital activities.
Emre Olur, a close aide of Peker was arrested earlier this week after being deported by the Emirati authorities.
The ties between Turkey and the UAE were on the brink of collapse before Ankara’s diplomatic push to reconcile with its former regional rivals including Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Erdogan, who accused the Emirates of funding the 2016 failed coup and threatened to sever ties with the Gulf country over the Abraham Accords, paid a landmark visit in February as part of his fence mending push.