The Defense Industry Executive Committee (SSİK), which met on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss Turkey's plans to purchase long-range missiles, has decided to arm Ankas, Turkey's domestically manufactured drones.
The US has been unwilling to supply armed Predator drones to Turkey in spite of Turkish requests. Both President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Erdoğan have personally asked US President Barack Obama to authorize the sale of armed Predators, to no avail.
Turkey will now be manufacturing a new version of the Anka that will have bigger engines, according to a Defense Ministry bureaucrat. “The Anka will have a stronger engine. This way it will have a greater load capacity. It will be armed like the US's Predators and Reapers. It will destroy targets by itself.”
The completion of the project is expected to take three to four years.
The Predators Turkey has bought from the US are currently based at an airbase in İncirlik and fly Turkish skies unarmed. The US military has the armed version of the same model. Reapers, which have similar properties to those of Predators, are the backbone of the US military's unmanned air force as they are capable of carrying more and heavier weapons than Predators.
US congressional approval is needed for the sale of such weapons to other countries, but the US administration has said it can't ensure congressional support at this time, resulting in the SSİK decision on Tuesday to produced armed versions of the Anka.