ANKARA — Baykar, the manufacturer of Bayraktar drones, has started construction work at its factory in Ukraine, according to CEO Haluk Bayraktar.
"Our factory is being built. … We need about 12 months to finish construction and then we will move on to internal machinery, equipment and organizational structure," Bayraktar was quoted as telling Reuters on Tuesday in Riyadh, where he attended the World Defense Show in Riyadh.
Bayraktar brushed aside a question about security issues stemming from the ongoing Russian war against Ukraine that is nearing its two-year mark, saying the works were “fully moving ahead” and that “nothing” could halt the process, according to the report.
In 2019, Baykar and an Ukrainian state-owned defense company signed a deal for joint production of Baykar drones, but the Russian invasion impeded the process.
In August, Ukrainian plane engine manufacturer Motor Sich, a company working with Baykar, came under attack by Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the company's facilities in Zaporizhzhya were struck by Russian forces.
Motor Sich and Ivchenko-Progress, another Ukrainian company, have been supplying engines to Baykar drones under a 2021 deal, Baykar’s website shows.
Baykar, which is owned by the family of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s younger son-in-law, Selcuk Bayraktar, has been supplying Bayraktar TB2 drones to Ukraine since 2018.
The drones proved particularly useful in the country’s defense against Russia, with Zelenskyy awarding Bayraktar family members with state order.
Speaking to Reuters, Haluk Bayraktar said that it remains unclear whether the factory will manufacture the TB2s identified with the Baykar brand or its newer version TB3s.
In addition to Ukraine, Baykar drones have been exported to 33 countries.