Vestel Defence is set to hand over the first upgraded Karayel tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (TUAV) under contract to the Turkish Land Forces Command in the middle of this year, a company spokesman has announced.

Speaking at the ongoing 2013 International Defence Industry Fair (IDEF) exhibition in Istanbul, the spokesman was quoted by Shephard as saying that the delivery followed successful implementation of a series of improvements requested by the army after initial flight demonstrations of UAV‘s baseline version.

Remaining units will be delivered by the year end, according to the spokesman, who also stated that the company would increase production to one UAV per month, if the army determines requirements for additional platforms.

As well as requesting a slightly bigger and more capable aircraft, the army also placed orders for six of the upgraded UAVs, also called Version II, following the flight demonstrations in 2009.

"The fully autonomous UAV will be capable of reaching an altitude of 22,500ft."

Featuring a 10.5m wing span, the 6.5m Karayel Version II TUAV possesses a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 550kg, which doubles its payload and endurance to 70kg and 20 hours respectively.

Powered by a 95hp engine, the fully autonomous UAV will be capable of reaching an altitude of 22,500ft, and can be used with a launcher and recovery system in unprepared areas.

Despite the drone attracting interest from global customers, the company will not sign any contracts, until the testing programme is complete and all Turkish systems are delivered, according to the spokesman.

Karayel UAV is designed to autonomously perform aerial observation, reconnaissance and surveillance operations without assistance of an onboard pilot.

Meanwhile, the company is also displaying its smaller Bora UAV, which served as a platform for demonstration of several critical technologies, including avionics, autopilot and datalink communications, prior to integration on Karayel UAV, during the exhibition.

Promoted as a stand-alone product, Bora will also be provided to Turkish Army as a training aircraft for operators moving to the Karayel system.

Defence Technology