ANALYSIS – Turkey’s robotic warfare future in the skies
Turkey’s present UAS trends are fairly promising, suggesting that the nation will further accelerate its robotic warfare transformation in the coming decades
ollowing Turkey’s recent Idlib campaign (Operation Spring Shield, February 2020), the global strategic community’s attention focused on Turkish drones’ successful hunt for the Syrian Arab Army’s Pantsir (SA-22) Russian-manufactured air defense systems.
Notably, an April 2020 piece published by the reputable defense outlet, the National Interest, was entitled “Turkey is the Middle East’s Newest Drone Super Power” (Axe, April 2020).
Well, if you think that Turkey is already a regional drone power, the next round might be even more aspirant. Ankara’s drone proliferation efforts are likely to introduce true capability leaps. Briefly, Turkey’s unmanned systems vision is investing in smarter technologies, heavier platforms, and more innovative CONOPS (concept of operations).
Seeking Smarter Technologies
Autonomy and swarming loom large as the two key words one needs to grasp for envisaging future robotic warfare. In this respect, Project Kerkes remains the leading effort of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, Turkey’s main procurement body. Unveiled in 2019, the ambitious project is centered on producing mini drone swarms with deep learning technologies, autonomous navigation without relying on GPS-based systems — or in jammed environments –, and smart targeting features in complex battlegrounds.
Turkey’s mini loitering munitions are promising with respect to their future roles. Turkey’s new generation mini drone family, principally consisting of rotary-wing Kargu, Togan (the latter a surveillance platform) and fixed-wing (Alpagu), can offer more flexible and smarter concepts of operations as the nation’s defense technological & industrial base (DTIB) capitalize on autonomy, deep learning, and swarming algorithms.
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