A future unmanned vehicle made in Turkey?

Speaking at a meeting at the presidential palace on February 21, president Erdogan declared, making allusion to UAVs: “We will carry it a step further. We should reach the ability to produce unmanned tanks as well. We will do it!”

An unmanned vehicle made in Turkey
The Russian Uran-9, a possible reference for Erdogan's project (Picture source: YouTube)

Erdogan’s comments came as a reaction after five Turkish soldiers were killed in a tank that was destroyed by an antitank missile while fighting in Syria’s Afrin district against a Kurd movement which is incidentally supported by the US Army in the fight against ISIS.

Turkey has long invested in building its own homegrown unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). At the Dubai Airshow in November 2017, Ankara unveiled its new Karayel UAV built by the local firm Vestel Defence Industry. With a 13-meter wingspan and an endurance of eight hours when fully armed with a 120-kg payload, the Karayel-SU is the latest in a family of UAVs built by Vestel for the Turkish armed forces and the export market.” This type of drone can be equipped with antitank weapons like the MAM-L and the laser-guided MAM-C, both also built by local firms.

If this Turkish project comes true, the country will join other ones, namely Russia that has long been developing a similar type of vehicle: called the Uran-9, the robotic armored vehicle is not intended to replace main battle tanks such as the T-90 or T-14 Armata. The smaller tank is designed to provide fire support to special operations forces and to conduct reconnaissance.