The Turkish defense industry has been in the process of increasing its product variety and production capacity for a decade. One sector especially, the development of unmanned combat aerial vehicles. In recent months Turkish unmanned systems have conducted several successful operations in both Syria and Libya. By comparison Turkish development of unmanned ground vehicles has been slower.
On the 9th May, Turkey’s President of Defense Industries made an announcement on his official Twitter account about an ongoing project developing an unmanned ground vehicle. The platform mentioned in the announcement is the combat-ready version of a previous prototype platform. A production date was not mentioned in the announcement, however, it was confirmed that the manufacturers of the platform are ASELSAN and Katmerciler. Some features of the system noted by the president included: the platform will be capable of conducting reconnaissance and surveillance missions and it will also operate with several types of weapon systems integrated. The platform will have autonomous and remote-control capabilities.
Furthermore, it is not the only UGV project underway in Turkey. A catalog released by the Presidency of Defense Industry listed sixteen different UGV projects, so one can say that UGVs are seen as an important future part of Turkey’s military operations just as UAVs have become. These UGVs have a wide variety of functions including surveillance, combat, reconnaissance and bomb disposal. There is no doubt that UGVs will play an important role in the future battlefield. Especially when we consider the process of urbanization of the battlefield, these platforms will not only increase the combat capability of ground forces but also will be significant elements of tactical deterrence.
Turkey is not the only country that has plans for UGVs. For example, General Dynamic Land Systems has a product named as Multi-Utility Tactical Transport, the platform is a combat support unit and is remotely controlled. Oshkosh Defense has the TerraMax UGV, the platform is autonomous, and can be operated with no driver and limited supervision.
The ongoing focus on UGV platforms gives us some significant clues about the future battlefield. We will see increasingly more ‘robots’ on the battlefield which will alter the nature of war fundamentally.