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Turkey’s Kizilelma unmanned fighter hits first flight milestone

Kizilelma in flight
Photo: Baykar

Baykar’s much-touted fighter-like unmanned aerial system Kizilelma has performed its first real flight, a bit earlier than initially planned by the company.

The Turkish company announced the milestone by sharing video footage of the Kizilelma, which is similar to loyal wingman drones currently under development in the United States and Australia, as it took the skies on December 13.

This flight will take the system a step closer to operation from the Turkish Navy’s landing helicopter dock (LHD) Anadolu, which is poised to become the world’s first unmanned aircraft carrier.

Baykar’s Kizilelma aced its first proper flight after conducting trials earlier this month, which saw the aircraft briefly take off from the ground before landing on the runway.

In September, first trials related to the integration of Ukrainian engines with the unmanned jet were completed, while first automatic runway taxi trials occurred in November.

By the time the system is ready for operations from Anadolu, Baykar will continue work on TB3, a folding-wing variant of the TB2 unmanned combat vehicle that gained fame during this year’s war in Ukraine.

Announcing the first flight milestone, Baykar’s general manager Haluk Bayraktar noted that the company completed the first flight with the Kizilelma in roughly a year after starting work on the system in 2021.

According to information available so far, Kizilelma will benefit from a low radar signature and its ability to carry a payload of up to 1,500 kilograms. As a combat UAS, it will be equipped with Turkish-developed munitions and a domestically-developed active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.