National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli has stressed the high detecting capabilities of armed drones produced in Turkey and rejected claims that the drones fail to distinguish civilians from terrorists.
Speaking in Parliament Thursday during the budget talks for the National Defense Ministry, Canikli said the domestic unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been effectively used in the fight against terrorism and contributed to the counterterrorism operations. He said that the drones are 96 percent locally made and "rank among the best in the world and might even be considered the best."
Upon allegations from People's Democratic Party (HDP) Deputy Ziya Pir that the drones "were not able to distinguish targets," Canikli said: "The armed drones have a highly sensitive scanning system that can detect even the smallest targets from 12,000 feet." He added that he has witnessed the effective detection of targets in a counterterrorism operation that he followed himself.
As Turkey looks to bolster domestic efforts to advance its national defense industry, the development of indigenous UAVs has been considered a significant step to achieve the goals set for the national defense systems.
Meanwhile, the use of armed drones had been previously criticized by Republican's People Party (CHP) Deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, claiming that "civilians were harmed during operations." The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) immediately rejected the claims, saying no civilians were harmed. Officials from Ankara blasted the claims as well and contended that the high effectiveness of the drones touched the nerves of those close to the outlawed PKK.
The UAVs in counterterrorism operations have highly limited the mobility of terrorists as they cannot find any place to hide and no way to escape. As operations are controlled remotley, the risk of casualties has been minimized as well.