Qatar invests in the new Turkish ‘Akıncı Tiha’ drone

Recent talks gave a boost to the project.
Saturday 24/04/2021
A Turkish-made drone is checked by employees in Turkish Aerospace’s facilities in Ankara. (AFP)
A Turkish-made drone is checked by employees in Turkish Aerospace’s facilities in Ankara. (AFP)

ANKARA / DOHA – A well-informed Turkish source said that the unannounced visit of the head of the Turkish Defence Industries Corporation, Ismail Demir, to Qatar focused on trying to secure Qatari financing for the development and introduction of the drone project Akıncı Tiha into service.

This comes after Turkish drones performed well in military battles in Libya, Syria, Iraq and in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The Turkish source told  The Arab Weekly that, “Demir carried the details of the new project, which is a relatively large multi-role unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which Turkey is developing into a sort of ” tank-plane” equipped with various weapons.

Demir met Qatar’s Chief of Staff Ghanem Bin Shaheen al Ghanem and discussed with him an indirect financing scheme through the purchase of a number of Akıncı Tiha drones, which the Defence Industries Corporation has already begun testing with various weapons options.

Qatari sources said that the two parties talked about the , “prospects for cooperation between the Qatari armed forces and the Turkish company and ways to enhance and develop these ties,” without making more details public.

The Turkish source said that Demir issued instructions upon his return to start testing different types of locally-made equipment and to move quickly on the project in order to ensure Qatari financing.

The Turkish Defence Industries Corporation is a major military manufacturing institution under the personal supervision  of the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The company announced that it has carried out successful tests of smart materiel on the new UAV and that work is underway to develop MIM-T munitions, improve the efficiency of their warheads and increase their range.

The two Turkish companies, Bayraktar and Roketsan, are working on the manufacture of vehicles and their lethal gear as part of a programme that is attracting considerable interest from a number of potential buyers.

Military ties between Turkey and Qatar were boosted in June 2017, as a military cooperation agreement entered into effect after ratification by the Turkish parliament and approval by Erdogan.

Under the agreement, a Turkish military base was established in Qatar and joint exercises were carried out.

Turkey presented itself as the protector of Qatar at a time when regional pressure intensified on Doha to change its stances which were seen as threatening to stability in the Middle East and North Africa.  Wariness about Qatar’s policies led to its boycott by a quartet of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia.

The relationship between Doha and Riyadh witnessed a certain degree of detente after the Al-Ula summit in Saudi Arabia. This resulted in a decline in the intensity of the mutual criticism as well as de-escalation of tensions between Turkey and Egypt.

Turkey increasingly relies on drones and considers them one among the most important military-industrial assets that buttress its rise as a regional power.

“Turkey has developed its own domestic drones and has used them to devastating effect in several recent military conflicts: Libya, Syria, in the Nagorno-Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and in the fight against the PKK inside its own borders,” recently wrote US scholar Francis Fukuyama.

“In the process, it has elevated itself into being a major regional power broker with more ability to shape outcomes than Russia, China or the United States” he wrote in an article published by the magazine American Purpose

The first large scale use of the Turkish drones was in an attack on Syrian forces that had targeted Turkish forces and killed 36 Turkish soldiers.

The US scholar noted that the effectiveness of Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 drones and the Anka-S unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) was evident. He added, “Video footage showed them destroying one Syrian armoured vehicle after another, including more than 100 tanks, armoured personnel carriers and air defence systems.”

Fukuyama argued that Turkey’s use of drones “is going to change the nature of land power in ways that will undermine existing force structures, in the way that the Dreadnaught obsoleted earlier classes of battleships, or the aircraft carrier made battleships themselves obsolete at the beginning of World War II.”