Turkish-developed UAVs get smarter with AI technology


STM Defense Technologies, which developed Turkey's first kamikaze unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), is planning to improve its drones using artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

The country is also looking to further strengthen its position in the UAV field by introducing new technologies. Until recently, Turkey was meeting its needs for UAVs from abroad but faced various challenges. Now, Turkey is constantly improving the level of expertise it has in UAV technology, with newer products and solutions.

ThinkTech, the country's first technology-oriented think tank founded by the Defense Technologies Engineering and Trade Inc. (STM), recently conducted a study on the current state of Turkey's UAVs and kamikaze UAV technologies.

The study identified UAVs for their important role as multipliers in today's asymmetric warfare. The technology, after setting off as remotely controlled UAVs, has evolved slowly to become intelligent unmanned autonomous devices.

Today, UAVs that boast high intelligence, flocking behavior, and a higher-level of autonomy driven by AI, are being propped up for use in warfare.

The international UAV market is expected to reach more than $50 billion in the next five years. A number of European and Asian countries and the U.S. are playing hard to increase their market shares. In Asia China, India and South Korea are the frontrunners with work underway to develop their own UAV systems. In Europe France, Germany and the U.K. are leading the pack with the various projects while Russia and Israel are also carrying out important works in this field.

For Turkey, which has developed armed and unarmed UAV systems for reconnaissance, surveillance and military operations, producing these devices using national means is of great importance as it pursues to become a regional power.

In addition, it is also looking to grab a significant share of the growing market, especially in Europe and Asia.

The Turkish aerospace and defense industry has recently made significant progress in this field, both in terms of platform and subsystems. A wide range of projects, including platform design, system integration, sensor development and weapon integration is currently underway.

The country's armed and security forces are already using a number of different UAVs in their fight against terrorism. Turkey plans to produce more drones in line with its 2023 goals in the national defense systems.

The latest UAV system in Turkey's arsenal is the kamikaze drone, described as "Turkey's new soldiers in the sky."

The kamikaze UAVs is one of the most important products to have come out of the Turkish defense industry in recent years and have already started to claim its place in asymmetric warfare.

The latest UAV-1 class kamikaze drones, originally designed and developed by the STM, was first exhibited at the 13th International Defense Industry Fair last May.

The fully homegrown STM UAV family was serialized and included in Turkey's inventory at the end of last year. The drones were expected to be prototyped as "flocks of highly smart UAVs" this year, by incorporating AI technology.

The ThinkTech study pointed to the importance of Turkey having similar capabilities in 2018 after the U.S. and China launched their prototypes and experimental samples with flocking behavior in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

It suggested that Turkey's claim in the "Global UAV League" could grow even further, taking into account the activities of UAV manufacturers like BAYKAR and Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc.

STM, which stands for Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik ve Ticaret A.Ş., was established in 1991 by a decree of the Defense Industry Executive Committee to provide system engineering, technical support, project management, technology transfer and logistics support services for Turkish Armed Forces and Undersecretariat for Defense Industries.

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