The project is a further step after the partly successful test-flights of the Anka, a medium-altitude and long-endurance (MALE) UAV, which was also designed and produced by TAI.
According to the new project, which is called “Anka Plus A” in classified files, the Turkish armed UAVs will be similar to the American Reaper and the Israeli Heron with regard to its capabilities.
Ankara’s decision comes after years-long efforts to buy Predators and Reapers, the type of armed drones the U.S. has used in places like Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan to target militants. Nevertheless, the U.S. Congress has so far opposed the sale of drones to Turkey, reportedly because of Ankara’s worsening relations with Israel.
Anka made its maiden flight in December 2010, flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet for 14 minutes, but the flight ended in a crash-landing. The drone’s specifications call for a flight time of almost 24 hours at 30,000 feet. Two later flights also ended up in crash-landings, although their flight in the air was extended. The drone had its first successful test flight on Oct. 25, 2011.
Despite being in sub-standard flight conditions, the footage released by TAI put speculation about the crash-landings at a rest. On Nov. 22, 2011, the Anka held the follow-up test flight for 6 hours at an altitude of 20,000 feet.
TAI plans to start design studies for the Anka Plus A soon. Although not able to give an exact date for the finalization of the project, defense sources noted that they had gained important experience in the Anka project, which would be useful for the Anka Plus A too.
“The new Anka Plus A will have higher flying altitude and longer flying endurance, but will be still categorized in the medium altitude long endurance (MALE) class. The first Anka that TAI is currently testing is also in the MALE class, but the new one will be closer to the High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) class.”