Skip to main content

From Ukraine to Libya, why are Turkey’s Baykar drones so popular?

Saudi Arabia's recent purchase emphasizes the unmanned combat vehicles' affordability, tech support and offensive capabilities.
Turkey drone

In his visit to the Gulf this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan scored what was described as the largest defense deal in his country’s history.

The stakes were high for the president desperately looking to direct more foreign investment into his country, beset by financial difficulties and hampered by sky-high inflation. 

But when Erdogan visited Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, Baykar, an Istanbul-based defense firm owned by the family of the president’s youngest son-in-law, announced that it would sell an unspecified number of Bayaraktar Akinci high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) drones to the kingdom.

Here, there, everywhere

Since Turkey started selling Baykar drones in 2019, the weapons have been used in conflict zones all over the world, including Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Ethiopia and Somalia. 

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.