The EFES-2022 Exercise, which had a high level of international participation this year, became the stage where Turkey successfully tested its domestic combat technologies and products, as well as showcased future technologies. The Turkish defense industry’s ammunition and vehicles were on display during the exercise, which was hosted by Turkey and held in Western Anatolia, the Central Aegean, Izmir Bay, and the Doğanbey Exercise Area under the direction and administration of the Aegean Army Command. The KARGI Anti-Radiation Drone, developed by LENTATEK (formerly Vestel Defense), was displayed for the first time during the exercise at the exhibition attended by Turkey’s leading defense industry companies.
The Kargı Project was launched in 2015 by Lentatek with support from TÜBİTAK Defense and Security Technologies Research Support Group (SAVTAG) with the goal of building a domestic system to replace the Harpy I’s that the Turkish Armed Forces purchased from Israel between 1997 and 1998. Kargı, which flew for the first time under the project’s scope in 2018, had foreign origins in many crucial subsystems at the time, including the engine.
Embargoes that were imposed on Turkey at the time caused the project to be interrupted, and as a result, the critical subsystems in the aircraft began to be localized. Within the scope of localization efforts, Aselsan and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) were later included in the project, which was carried out under the leadership of TUBITAK and Lentatek. Kargı was later equipped with the PG50 engine developed by TAI’s engine producing subsidiary, TAI Engine Industries (TEI), and the design and production of the vehicle’s ground systems, navigation and automatic flight control system, as well as the software of the system, were developed locally.
Kargı’s most fundamental operational concept is to conduct basic kamikaze drone missions in conjunction with SEAD/DEAD (suppression of enemy air defenses / destruction of enemy air defenses) operations. The Kargı will detect enemy radar and electronic warfare systems and neutralize them by self-destructing on the target, thanks to its RF seeker and demolition system. These systems, which are lighter than cruise missiles, are also cheaper. With its high-explosive warhead, they can cause significant damage to the target. The system, which operates completely autonomously on the “fire and forget” principle, can operate day and night in all weather conditions. The system, which operates completely autonomously on the “fire and forget” principle, can operate day and night in all weather conditions. Work will begin in the coming days to launch the Kargı, which can be launched from tin canisters on a carrier vehicle (such as a pickup truck) from the rear of the battle, from ships and aircraft.
There has been no official announcement about the technical details of the KARGI Loitering Munition, which is expected to have features similar to Israel’s Harpy and Harop type drones. However, according to Savunma SanayiST, KARGI will have 6+ hours of flight time, SATCOM communication systems with bidirectional datalink, and advanced capabilities such as loitering and Home-on-Jam during target search.
This showcase during the EFES 2022 exercise, is only a preview. The full launch of the KARGI kamikaze drone system is expected take place in the coming days, in collaboration with critical subsystem suppliers and stakeholder companies such as ASELSAN, TEI, and TÜBİTAK SAGE. Furthermore, Kargı’s ongoing acceptance phase activities are scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of 2022, with mass production expected to begin by the end of the year.