Ukraine ‘puts new shipment of Turkish combat drones into service’

Ukraine ‘puts new shipment of Turkish combat drones into service’
A Bayraktar TB2 of the Ukrainian Air Force armed with MAM-L smart micro munitions. Two ground control stations are seen in the background. / Ukraine defence ministry.
By bne IntelIiNews March 3, 2022

A new shipment of Bayraktar TB-2 combat drones from Turkey has been put into service to boost the Ukrainian war effort against the Russian invasion, according to an announcement from Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov.

“New Bayraktars have already arrived in Ukraine and have been put into service. More Stingers and Javelins are to come [from various countries],” Reznikov wrote on his Facebook page, referencing FIM-92 Stinger man-portable air-defence systems and FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles. 

(Note: Unverified footage).

It was not clear from Reznikov’s statement whether the Turkish combat drones arrived in Ukraine before or after the invasion—Ankara has set out to try and maintain good relations with both Moscow and Kyiv despite the war—but Aerotime Hub reported on March 2 that numerous Turkish Air Force Airbus A400M flights between Ankara and Rzesow in southern Poland were conducted between February 25 and 27. It is conceivable that the drones were delivered to Poland on these flights, before being shipped over the Ukrainian border. 

Reznikov did not provide any details on the number or the exact variant of the drones, made by Turkish company Baykar, that were shipped.  

Since 2019 and prior to the latest delivery, Ukraine appears to have acquired at least 20 Bayraktars from Turkey. They have been put into use by both the Ukrainian Air Force and Navy. In October last year, Ukraine announced the first combat use of the type, drawing Moscow’s ire.  

Russia has claimed to have shot down several Bayraktar drones since the war began, but a February 26 report in Middle East Eye (MEE) told how Ukrainian officials have said the drones have notched up several battlefield successes, striking Russian military convoys and forces. A February 28 article published by MEE explained how the drones were proving successful despite the Russian Army apparently boasting sophisticated electronic warfare capabilities and state-of-the-art air defence systems.

Separately, Turkey said on March 2 that Russia at Ankara’s request withdrew a bid to send four warships through its waters into the Black Sea.

Nato member Turkey on February 28 said that after defining the conflict in Ukraine as “war” it closed the Dardanelles and Bosporus straits to foreign warships. However, under the 1936 Montreux Convention that regulates access to the waters, vessels that are returning to their registered military bases can be allowed through to the Black Sea.

Three of the four warships that Russia wanted to send through the straits were not registered to Black Sea bases, according to Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

“Nobody should be offended by this [request for the warships to not cross the straits], because the Montreux Convention is valid today, yesterday and tomorrow, so we will implement it,” Cavusoglu said.