As the Ukraine-Russia conflict continues, reports of Ukraine’s on-ground and guerilla defence tactics have surfaced. Amid all of this, one particular factor that has drawn particular attention is the Bayraktar TB2, a small and inexpensive Turkish combat drone. While not being anywhere close to the same might as heavyweight warfare artillery, the Bayraktar TB2 has seen extensive usage by Ukrainians, and has reportedly made multiple heavyweight captures over the past few weeks. There's even a song on YouTube dedicated to this drone. On this note, we take a look at what the Bayraktar TB2 is, and why it has suddenly gained such limelight.
What is the Bayraktar TB2 drone?
Made in Turkey, the Bayraktar TB2 is a ‘MALE’ drone – standing for medium altitude, long endurance in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) parlance. It is not ‘small’ in common terms, but in terms of combat drones, is smaller than various global offerings. The drone is powered by a 105hp engine, and offers top speed of 222kph – and cruising speed of 129.6kph.
What does it bring to the table?
The combat drone can fly for 27 hours straight, at up to 18,000 feet in the air – while carrying payloads of up to 136kg. Yet again, this is a fairly small number as far as combat drones are concerned. The Bayraktar TB2, however, is equipped with a payload that includes a laser designator, a night vision camera and an electro-optical camera. It is this camera payload that has allowed the drone to be flown nearly 5km above the surface level – while giving operators sitting far away with a precise vision of the battlefield.
The drone is also equipped with four laser-guided glide bombs weighing about 22kg each. These bombs are high-precision thanks to the laser designator, and carry armour piercing and prolonged explosion as part of their warhead features. This means that the drone is not only precise, but also highly effective in attack.
What impact has it had on Ukrainian efforts against Russia?
According to reports, the Bayraktar TB2 has been used in destroying over 20 Russian combat vehicles on the ground, and at least five Howitzer guns that are used to fire shells. Two fuel trains and at least six air defence systems have also reportedly been taken down by the Bayraktar TB2.
Does India have similar drones being used in its defence forces?
The Indian defence forces have multiple MALE combat drones in development under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The two combat drones are called Rustom and Ghatak – which are expected to break cover by 2026. India also deploys numerous surveillance drones in combat, the latest of which were supplied to the army by Indian startup, IdeaForge.