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Baykar’s new drone breaks altitude record with indigenous engine

Powered with a domestically produced engine, the Bayraktar TB3 unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) completed its 34th and 35th flight tests, breaking the altitude record of 33,000 feet, its developer company, Baykar, announced on Thursday.

According to a statement from Baykar, the testing process for the Bayraktar TB3 has continued successfully.

After making its first flight for the Turkish Republic’s 100th anniversary on Oct. 27, 2023, successfully conducting medium and high-altitude performance tests, the Bayraktar TB3 completed the High Altitude System Performance Test and recently reached a record altitude.

The UCAV completed the test at the AKINCI Flight Training and Test Center in the Çorlu district of northwestern Tekirdağ province with the PD-170 engine developed by TUSAŞ Engine Industries Inc. (TEI).

Having taken off with PD-170, the new UCAV climbed to the highest altitude that any aircraft has reached to date with an indigenous engine during the test. Accordingly, the Bayraktar TB3 reached a major milestone in the history of Turkish aviation with its new altitude record.

The Bayraktar AKINCI UCAV, another original product that Baykar developed indigenously, holds the altitude record in Turkish aviation with 45,118 feet.

The Bayraktar TB3 logged 327 hours and 35 minutes in test flights to date, including a remarkable 32-hour continuous flight covering 5,700 kilometers (3,541 miles) on Dec. 20, 2023.

On March 26 this year, it achieved another milestone by successfully flying with the domestically developed ASELFLIR-500 system, known for its superior performance globally.

Equipped with foldable wings, the Bayraktar TB3 will become the first armed UCAV capable of operating from short-runway ships like the TCG Anadolu, the flagship of the Turkish Navy, which was commissioned in the ceremony last year.

This advancement, coupled with its beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) communication capability, positions it as a game-changer in reconnaissance, intelligence and attack missions, enhancing Türkiye’s deterrent capabilities significantly.

Selçuk Bayraktar, Baykar’s Chairperson and CTO, previously announced that the company plans to test the Bayraktar TB3 aboard TCG Anadolu in 2024.

Baykar, largely self-funded, has relied on exports for 83% of its revenue since 2003, becoming the defense and aviation sector’s export leader, according to the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM).

Announced as the export champion of the sector by the Presidency of Defense Industries (SBB) in 2023, Baykar’s exports totaled $1.8 billion last year, constituting over 90% of its income and one-third of the sector’s total exports in 2023.

As the world’s largest unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) exporter, Baykar has fulfilled 97.5% of its contracts through exports, with agreements signed with 34 countries, including 33 countries for the Bayraktar TB2 UAV and nine countries so far for the Bayraktar AKINCI UCAV.

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