(Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s Baykar Makina Sanayi ve Ticaret AS, which provides Ukraine with unmanned aerial vehicles, says it currently has the capacity to build 20 drones a month and a three-year order backlog.
“TB2 and Akinci drones are in serial production, we have demand for both of them,” Haluk Bayraktar, the privately-owned company’s chief executive officer, said in an interview with the Ukrainian Come Back Alive Foundation on Thursday. “For Bayraktar TB2, we have export contracts with 22 different countries.”
Baykar, which is also working on an unmanned fighter project called the Bayraktar Kizilelma, wants to further increase its production capacity and hopes to achieve that with a plant in Ukraine.
Bayraktar, the brother of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law, Selcuk Bayraktar, said the company wants to assemble TB2 and Akinci drones as well as Kizilelma fighters in Ukraine.
Construction of a research facility and advanced production center is already under way, he said, adding, “We see Ukraine as our strategic partner. We also want to make Ukraine a manufacturing base.”
Turkey has managed to stay close to both Ukraine and Russia this year as it looks to mediate rather than choose sides in the war after President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Even as Baykar supplies armed drones to Ukraine and foresees a factory there, Turkey’s exports to Russia hit an eight-year high of $2.9 billion in the first half of 2023.
In a recent interview with the newspaper RBC, Ukraine’s envoy to Turkey said a Bayraktar TB2 factory could be producing drones as soon as late 2023.
Kyiv has received 50 TB2 drones since the Russian invasion, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in June.
In July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan played a major role in brokering a deal between Russia and Ukraine to resume Black Sea grain exports trapped by the war. Erdogan has close ties to Putin, who praised him for his efforts during the prolonged grain talks.
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