Baykar Begins Training Initial Batch Of Akinci UCAV Pilots

Turkish drone manufacturer Baykar has begun training the first batch of operators for its Akinci UCAV. The company made the announcement of March 3, releasing photographs of trainees at their first lesson, with none other than Baykar Chief Technology Officer Selçuk Bayraktar hosting the class.

Baykar’s Chief Technology Officer, Selçuk Bayraktar, presenting the first class (Baykar)

According to Baykar, the five-month training course for Akinci operators will differ based on their service branch. Specific aspects for trainee pilots include piloting, payload management and radar operation, while ground crew are trained on ammunition handling and airframe maintenance. Trainees are trained with three preproduction Akincis, airframe codes PT-1, PT-2 and PT-3.

A view of the attendees of the first class (Baykar)

The beginning of operator training comes as the first production Akincis draw ever closer to completion, heralding the imminent beginning of full scale production of the Akinci. Selçuk Bayraktar uploaded photographs from a visit by Mustafa Varank, Turkey’s Minister of Industry and Technology, on March 8, showing both inspecting the partially assembled Akinci S-1, the first production Akinci. In a Telegram post accompanying the photos, Selçuk said that S-1 was now in the “final stages” of production.

Mustafa Varank, Turkey’s Minister of Industry and Technology, and Selçuk Bayraktar inspecting the under-construction Akinci S-1. (Baykar)

In related news, Ismail Demir, head of Turkey’s Presidency of Defence Industries, said in a recent television interview on NTV that the government body was now looking into the development of a derivative of Baykar’s TB2 UCAV for use on the TCG Anadolu amphibious assault ship. This derivative UCAV would be capable of both takeoff and landing on the carrier, with Ismail saying that another drone variant under consideration was a VTOL quadrotor. 

Another view of S-1, with more of the assembly hall visible. (Baykar)

The Anadolu was designed with F-35B operations in mind, however, the expulsion of Turkey from the F-35 program proved to be a major dent in the Turkish Navy’s plans to operate a small aircraft carrier instead of a landing helicopter dock. While it had been long speculated that the Turkish military would consider operating UCAVs off the Anadolu instead, the capabilities Turkey’s UCAVs can bring to the table are still extremely limited compared to an F-35B.