Since the conflict began there has been a focus on the fate of Ukraine’s two dozen Bayraktar drones.
One of the emerging stories in the Ukraine conflict is the ability of the embattled country to keep its Turkish-made armed drones flying. The Bayraktar drone – a relatively new armed technology created by Turkey’s local arms industry – has been used in Syria and Libya by Ankara, and its success there led to increased sales abroad over the last several years. Since the conflict began, there has been a focus on the fate of Ukraine’s two dozen Bayraktar drones. Ukraine does not have a large air force, and it was expected that Russia could gain air supremacy quickly over Kyiv. However, a week into the war, it is not clear if Russia has succeeded. Reports say that Moscow has not committed most of its air force, but on the other hand, Ukrainian pilots seem less active – and Russia did say on Monday that it controlled the skies.
The Bayraktar TB2 that Ukraine uses has a length of only six meters (20 feet) and a wingspan of 12 meters. It weighs around 650 kg (1,433 lbs.) and can carry around 65 kg of munitions, usually including four missiles. The US Reaper drone by comparison weighs three times as much, at about 2,000 kg (just under 3,100 lbs.), with more than 21 times the payload capacity of 1,400 kg. It can carry seven armaments or other devices, usually four missiles and two bombs. The US Predator, an ancestor of the Reaper, had a weight of 500 kg (1,100 lbs.) and could carry a payload of 500 kg as well, making it about the same weight as the Bayraktar but with more potential for heavier armaments. Russia has amassed long convoys of vehicles to enter Ukraine, including one that stretches dozens of kilometers. If the Ukrainian Air Force was active, Russia would not be so obvious. However, Ukrainian social media has said the Ukrainian drones are still active in striking trains, convoys and vehicles of the Russian aggressors.