Vestel to develop Karayel-2, UCAVs

Vestel Defence is getting ready to introduce its new MALE-class unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) following the company’s successful debut with the Karayel tactical UAV, defence systems general manager Mr. Aziz Sipahi said in an interview with Zaman.

Karayel is a proven platform capable of cruising at 18,000 feet (5,500 meters) and carrying a payload of 35 kilograms, with a flight endurance of 10 hours. Payload generally consists of advanced electro-optic sensors (daytime camera and FLIR systems), navigation module, telemetry systems and encrypted communications equipment. Karayel can become airborne from a specialized catapult-type launcher or take off from a regular runway and land automatically.

One Karayel system consists of 6 UAVs, 3 land-based command and control stations and 1 launcher.

The new platform, dubbed Karayel-2, is being designed as a larger, more advanced successor to the Karayel and will be capable of reaching an altitude of 22,500 feet (6,900 meters) with a flight duration of 20 hours, bringing the platform to ‘Medium Altitute Long Endurance’ (MALE) class.

UAVs are extremely important assets in counter-terrorism operations in Turkey’s mountainous southeast, where manned flights (with F-16s and F-4s) are significantly more expensive to perform and pose an unavoidable risk of loss of human life. UAVs provide a valuable alternative in especially area patrol and reconnaissance missions by loitering over a given area for hours and alerting the authorities of any illegal movements thousands of meters below. Most UAVs, including Vestel’s Karayel, is capable of seeing and identifying targets at night. Because UAVs are generally smaller and quieter, and fly at high altitutes, they are extremely hard to spot by terrorists.

Turkey currently has only one operational unmanned combat aerial vehicle, or UCAV, which is TAI’s Mosquito helicopter system armed with two Roketsan-made Cirit laser-guided missiles. TAI is also working on an armed version of its MALE-class UAV Anka, dubbed Anka-B.

Vestel Defence will introduce the 3rd Turkish UCAV.

“Following requests from certain Middle Eastern countries, we’ve started the design process of an UAV capable of carrying weapons,” said Mr. Sipahi.

UCAVs are a growing breed of weaponary slowly replacing manned combat aircraft in critical anti-terrorism operations. USAF actively uses Predator armed drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan against Al Queda installations.

With the introduction of a 3rd typoe of UCAV, Turkey is expected become one of the leading nations in the production of these drones, capable supplying a growing demand from around the world.

Hasan Y. Karaahmet – TR Defence