WASHINGTON

Armed low-cost drones made by Turkey are reshaping battlefields and geopolitics, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The report said smaller militaries around the world are deploying inexpensive missile-equipped drones against armored enemies, calling it a “successful” battlefield tactic.

The Turkish drones are built with affordable digital technology, which the report said wrecked tanks and other armored vehicles as well as air-defense systems in wars in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan.

“These drones point to future warfare being shaped as much by cheap but effective fighting vehicles as expensive ones with the most advanced technology,” it said.

Last July during a virtual gathering of the Air and Space Power Conference, Britain’s Defense Secretary Ben Wallace stressed the “game-changing” role of Turkish drones in modern warfare in the Middle East and North Africa.

“We need to look at the lessons of others. Look how Turkey has been operating in Libya, where it has used Bayraktar TB2 UAVs since mid-2019,” said Wallace at the time.

The Bayraktar TB2 is a Tactical Armed/UAV System developed and manufactured by drone producer Baykar.

According to the company, currently, 160 Bayraktar platforms are at the service of Turkey, Qatar, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. Poland said last month it would buy 24 TB2 drones.

In the report, the Bayraktar TB2 is compared with the American MQ-9. The TB2 is lightly armed with four laser-guided missiles and its radio-controlled apparatus limits its basic range to around 200 miles, roughly a fifth of the ground the MQ-9 can cover, it said.

“Yet it is utilitarian and reliable—qualities reminiscent of the Soviet Kalashnikov AK-47 rifle that changed warfare in the 20th century.

“A set of six Bayraktar TB2 drones, ground units, and other essential operations equipment costs tens of millions of dollars, rather than hundreds of millions for the MQ-9,” said the report.

The Bayraktar TB2 became known internationally first in the Syrian war early last year after the Turkish military launched Operation Spring Shield in northern Syria, backed by electronic warfare systems, ground troops, artillery and warplanes.

The report also highlighted the role of the drones in the Libyan civil war, which it said “helped turn the tide” in the war last spring. Turkey backed the Tripoli-based government against by renegade commander Khalifa Haftar and his forces.

“Improved drone tactics honed in Syria provided the upper hand against Russian-made surface-to-air missile systems known as Pantsir, handing the Tripoli government aerial supremacy. By June, Mr. Haftar’s forces retreated from Tripoli,” said the report.

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