Hedef KIZILELMA Belgeseli | 2. Bölüm
NOVEMBER 20TH, 2022 ÇORLU AIRFIELD COMMAND 05.20 A.M. Throughout all the testing, experiments and missions on this journey, we always made a difference under the most challenging circumstances and outside of business hours. Ready? Ready. Leaving the hangar now. Unless we work beyond the current business hours, we won't be able to make up for the time -the decades and centuries- we lost.
Are we ready? -Ready? -Ready. -Good. -Okay, let's move. Copy that. We're moving. Bismillah.
We don't have the luxury of working during business hours only if our civilization is lagging behind in science and technology. So, you're saying that it would be good to try high-speed taxiing this time? You're saying we need to run? Okay, let's do it. 40 knots.
I think it reached 60 knots. If this is a fight for survival, we no longer have years or decades or centuries to lose by working only during business hours. Stop taxiing. THE GOAL: KIZILELMA CHAPTER 2 Today's goal was to have Kızılelma perform an automatic taxi test. Are we done? Well done.
I started this venture with my father roughly 20 years ago. My father's final project was the conceptual design of Akıncı. He passed away right after Akıncı became airborne and we completed its delivery. But his spirit carries on - even within Kızılelma.
To pay tribute to him, we printed his name on the fuselage of Kızılelma. Kızılelma has been our goal for two decades and we crafted it with that spirit. And that spirit carries on. I believe that our family's engineering DNA came from my father. But there is another component that my mother passed down, which is interesting.
My software engineer side comes from my mother. Before I was born, she worked as a software engineer with computers using punch cards for data processing at Türkiye's Industrial Development Bank. She was originally an economist.
She finished Istanbul University's School of Economics. But they used to develop accounting software. It's extremely difficult to read such programs. My mother currently works with us.
She must be in her office right now. This is a Tuesday afternoon. She works in accounting and finance. She must be there now. My father essentially lived at the office until he passed away. He used to live in his room at work with my mother. Especially in companies developing high technology, founders seek to achieve things that surpass commercial interests if they are technologists themselves and if they aligned their company's DNA with their personal goals.
If you were to ask me why we really do what we do the answer would be: to make our country independent, prosperous and powerful. Think about it. We were using the Heron. There is no way of knowing whether you will receive accurate information from a machine whose software belongs to Israel. Imagine one of your military units exchanging fire in the mountains at night. You request a Heron for surveillance. And you find out that it is elsewhere and unavailable.
That is not the case anymore. The terror attack in Gediktepe affected me most deeply. The footage was released. I immediately went there. I responded like a typical reporter. I got there right after the attack.
The military outpost there was under attack for hours. It was vulnerable. Our military units attempted to send backup but the outpost was completely surrounded. Then came another shocking revelation which was more disappointing and saddening: I learned that the Heron stationed nearby was not in the air at the time. There was a malfunction. The engineers and the maintenance team did not show up, causing the UAV to be grounded. That was a sensitive story, so I needed solid confirmation.
It was impossible to get that information confirmed easily. In the end, there was no confirmation. It made headlines in the archives. This is something journalists say to mean that the story was not published.
I had a problem with the Heron in Hantepe district of Diyarbakır. The information flow was delayed by five minutes. There were issues with the quality of footage and the lack of instant availability. Had it been an indigenous UAV instead of a Heron that day, the situation in Hantepe could have been quite different. First of all, we didn't receive the footage instantly.
The second issue was that the coordinates provided were totally different. Upon applying the image on a map, one would receive a totally different location. Moreover, none of it means anything unless the footage is delivered instantly and the aircraft doesn't operate where and when you want it. We had the same experience in Batman.
When I arrived in Batman as commander, there was a system of foreign origin operating there. One day, the staff went to work and discovered that that foreign system's technical support team had simply left without notifying anyone due to a political crisis with the relevant country, rendering the system inactive. Essentially, you find yourself at the mercy of someone else if they have the initiative.
But everything changes if you are both the manufacturer and the user. At that point, I started thinking: Türkiye, a great country, had between 75 and 80 million citizens at the time. I wondered if there were no brilliant engineers that could develop such systems. A colleague from the military told me about the late Özdemir Bayraktar. He said: "There is a guy building aircraft with his kids.
I asked for more details and discovered that the same guys had built the Mini UAV, which participated in the EFES military exercise. The Turkish Armed Forces had held a military exercise in the Aegean Sea. The Mini UAV was used there for the first time. We received the footage from the wires. At the time, I was intrigued by this aircraft because it was made in Türkiye. We were used to seeing Israeli and American UAVs in the news.
One could not help but wonder whether Turks, too, could build them. To be honest, I didn't think it was likely at the time. I hoped that the story was true.
"It would be awesome if Türkiye has such a system at its disposal. But I didn't hear about it and I seriously doubt it." Still, we immediately started chasing the story. TÜRKİYE COULD STAND OUT IN THE WORLD WITH THE UAVS Generally speaking, it is difficult to contact manufacturers because one would need permission from the Ministry of National Defense. But there was something different about this family.
If they set their mind to something, if they wanted to achieve something, they always found a way of doing it. And somehow, I managed to meet Haluk Bayraktar at a defense exhibition for the first time. I found their phone number. I called and Haluk Bayraktar answered.
If memory serves, that was in the beginning of the summer of 2010. We met in their workshop. I'm not talking about their first factory. This was in the Metalwork Industrial Zone in Ikitelli, Istanbul. The dad was a unique character. He didn't care about permits.
He didn't care about the challenges. When I proposed that we made a report about them, he said: "Be my guest." I proceeded to warn him that they could get in trouble. He said: "It will be fine. We'll figure it out." He had a different style.
He would call early in the morning and ask if I was available. And then I would notice that he was near my house. He would pick me up. Sometimes he would call at 10 p.m. and ask what I was up to. I came here many times at night. He would pick me up from home and drive me here. We flew the Mini UAV in an empty lot in Altınşehir. And we did that without obtaining permission from the relevant authorities.
-Ready. -Go. The Gendarmerie would come and ask if we had permission to fly the aircraft. My father would answer: "I don't need a permit for this. If you need permission, go get it yourself." We would fly the aircraft regardless. He was that kind of person. They got themselves into trouble later on but they wanted to be heard one way or another. They wanted to show everyone that they were building such aircraft in Türkiye - that Turkish engineers and technicians were on par with standards.
They got here by fighting the bureaucracy. Mr. Selçuk or Mr. Haluk may have told you that nobody believed in them. Let me tell you a story: I finished the article that day.
I spoke with them. The article was ready in my mind. I went back to the office and my colleagues mocked me because the workshop was in the Blacksmiths Industrial Site. "There is no way that they are building a UAV in the middle of body shops." They didn't believe me and the story didn't come out right away. Do you know when it was published? On a Sunday. We desperately needed a story. And we had this recent article at our disposal.
They said: "There was the UAV story. Let's run that." That's how we published the very first UAV story. It had gone viral by the following day.
Do you know the headline of that first story though? It was something like: "Indigenous Heron ready for duty" THE HERON'S COMPETITOR, ÇALDIRAN, IS READY FOR DUTY We didn't even know the word UAV at the time. We simply called it Heron. Think about it: I was a reporter working on this stuff. Even I called it Heron.
IT COULD FLY OVER THE QANDIL MOUNTAINS FOR HOURS I think learned helplessness sometimes really trumps maliciousness. I believe that the greatest struggle is changing people's minds. If you are developing something to compete with others, they will try very hard to stop you. If you want to penetrate a market that someone else has dominated, the market leader will do anything to stop you. It is the same everywhere. There was an attempt to cancel the flight demo for the TB1.
But they failed. The aircraft reached the runway. Many things happened as we proved successful on the runway. Should I discuss it in detail? Then let me go over it quickly. You can edit it out. After our success with the mini-class unmanned helicopter, Malazgirt, we received an invitation.
They said: "We need tactical UAVs and we want to procure them through competitive bidding. We invited two companies. One of them is yours." Two companies would compete.
To participate, We were asked to provide a letter of credit worth $500,000. If we failed at any point, that letter would be voided. Our efforts would have amounted to nothing. Think about it for a moment: All around the world companies are compensated for the cost of developing technology.
In our case, they wanted us to provide a letter of credit instead of providing funds themselves. They asked for a letter of credit to participate in that project. We agreed to those terms. We worked day and night for two years. Finally, when we sought to fly the aircraft in Keşan, we could not receive permission. We had built the aircraft but we weren't allowed to fly it.
The authorities in Ankara didn't want us to fly it. Some high-ranking military officials tried to hinder our efforts. My father would call them puppets in uniform. Those so-called officers didn't permit us to fly. General Ergin Saygun issued the permit. As commander of the 1st Army, he commanded the unit in Keşan as well.
I told them: "Come here and fly it." After all, these guys had built something and they just wanted to test it. It was ready to go. They just needed to see if it could fly.
My father told the general that we would fly the aircraft without permission but he was worried about getting the general in trouble for allowing it. He said: "We will fly it. We have always flown it without permission." General Ergin Saygun insisted that we fly the aircraft. And we did. The first test flight took place in 2009. It was an unauthorized flight. The world-famous Bayraktar TB2's maiden flight was unauthorized.
They flew the aircraft there. That airfield was later expanded and transformed into a gorgeous facility. Hangars were built, among other things. It became a place for unmanned aerial vehicles to fly. As I said before, these guys had to overcome many challenges.
After the maiden flight, we received an offer that we thought was part of another plot. We were told not to not showcase The aircraft's technological capabilities during the demo. Instead, we were to describe those capabilities in writing.
In exchange, we would be deemed successful. What would have happened if we had agreed? They would have said that we didn't fly the aircraft. That would have been their excuse to kick us out of the program. At that time, Türkiye exclusively used large unmanned aerial vehicles from abroad. that would have stopped foreign suppliers, like Israeli and American companies, from selling drones to Türkiye. from selling drones to Türkiye.
They wouldn't be able charge 10 times the cost of the aircraft. That was the idea. We told them that we rejected that offer because we didn't build this aircraft to fly it in the hallways of official buildings or in theory. We built it so that it would make our country independent.
We continued our efforts. After a while, we received a permit to conduct tests and demo flights in Sinop. The entire team went there. What was called the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries at the time was moving forward with two companies. The airfield in Sinop was set aside for test flights. They gave both companies, ours and the competitor, one month each to work there by taking turns.
We were expected to perform tests and conduct demo flights there. We would start working in the morning with the intention to fly the aircraft in the early hours. But we couldn't fly in the afternoon, let alone early in the morning. The air traffic control tower closed at 5 p.m.
The Sinop Airfield was not a busy airfield at the time. If memory serves, there was a single sortie took place per day. The remaining time was set aside for our activities. One day, we completed our preparations at approximately 4 p.m.
Actually, let's just eat here. Does that make sense? I mean, let's just get something to break our fasts. One of the guys should go and get something to eat. Okay? Something sweet like chocolate would get the job done. We reached the runway and got clearance from the control tower. We were supposed to take off during business hours.
We got the green light from the tower. The aircraft took off and we were to climb to 18,000 feet that day. The weather was going to get worse in the following days and weeks. It was probably 4.30 p.m. The tower would close at 5 p.m. The air traffic controller told us to be back on the runway by 4.45 p.m. because his shift ended at 5 p.m.
We responded: "This flight is crucial. Türkiye is the only country in the entire region to conduct this test flight." I told the controller: "Put your hand on a map of the world, measure your span and see where it lands. There are hardly any countries in Europe that could develop this kind of technology.
This is why this flight matters to our country." The controller insisted that we contact the authorities in Ankara so that they to call him and order him to keep the tower operational. Because his shift was about to end. So we got in touch with the specialist overseeing the project at the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries. Meanwhile, the aircraft continued to climb. It was at 13,000 or 14,000 feet.
I spoke with the specialist about what was happening. He called back after a few minutes and asked if we could run the test the following day instead. We were quite sentimental and exhausted both emotionally and physically. I reflected on our past experiences and asked: "The only thing that you can do is to stop me from flying this aircraft?" I mean, they hadn't helped us at any stage.
I was furious. I almost flipped out. I told them that the aircraft was flying automatically: "It also flies automatically during business hours and it ignores my commands and instructions. If you guys have an aircraft that works outside of business hours, then use that aircraft of yours to shoot down mine.
Because my plane just doesn't obey my orders and it's hell bent on breaking the altitude record of 18,000 feet." Almost there, guys. We have reached 14,000 feet. The conversation was over and they allowed us to keep going. We broke a record at 18,000 feet that day.
We are cruising at 18,000 feet with 0.40 thrust. Write down the time when we reached 18,000 feet. 18:55.47. Let's land it then. We broke a record at 18,000 feet. It surpassed 18,000 feet.
This is the new record in the Republic's history. The highest altitude reached by an indigenous aerial vehicle. 18,000 feet does not mean much in the world of aviation but it means the world if one hasn't done anything before. It meant so much. Unfortunately, this lack of vision was the biggest obstacle on our path. They couldn't stop us on the runway. We managed to reach the runway.
It was Friday night. The demo flight was about to end. I believe that we had flown for eight hours straight. The aircraft turned around and landed in the middle of the night. It was pitch black and you could only spot the lights of the aircraft. The aircraft approached us and stopped in front of us. A member of the official committee objected to the final report which confirmed that the aircraft had landed automatically.
He said: "It didn't land automatically. You pressed a button." The official committee consisted of representatives from the Defense Industry Agency and the Armed Forces. There was also a group of observers that the military authorities added to the list. Those observers piloted and operated the AeroStar aircraft that Türkiye procured from Israel back then. Selçuk tried to explain that the aircraft landed automatically. One of the observers insisted that Selçuk landed the aircraft.
They made up an excuse to file an objection to cause disturbance among the committee members. In the end, they added an annotation to the flight report. My older brother was completing his mandatory military service at the time.
He attended the flight demo as the CEO of our company. I asked them why they refused to let the record show that the aircraft landed automatically. I told them their comments were absurd. That was it. Absurd. As soon as I uttered that word, the Israeli-trained guy suddenly started yelling: "Shut up, you shameless sergeant!" He told my brother to stand at attention. My brother had been there for three days as our company's CEO and this guy attempted to treat him like a private. He tried to treat my brother as if my brother were his subordinate.
I was shocked but I stood my ground and called him exactly what he called me. Then they made a phone call and attempted to arrest me. All hell broke loose. I should remind you that the aircraft supposedly "did not land automatically" according to the official report. They plotted and did everything in their power to smear our efforts and supposedly show that our aircraft was inadequate.
Our competitor proceeded to continued their activities in Sinop. I know for a fact that they weren't as successful as us. There were also complications linked to the procurement process as in the past. Ordinarily, there should be a single winner in a public tender to purchase 24 aircraft. But the terms changed overnight and they bought six planes from our competitor despite declaring that we had won. Several months later, the guy that caused my brother to get sued, started working with our competitor.
That was something that the Armed Forces would not ordinarily tolerate. We believe that this guy was sent there for a reason. A quick look at Baykar's progress and past reveals that Baykar always used its own capital to make R&D investments since its foundation. Founded in 1986, the company has never taken out a loan from any bank to this day. It is currently the top exporter of unmanned aerial vehicles worldwide.
This is where we are now. Today we've solved the problems and addressed the shortcomings that we encountered during the most recent tests. We have been working on them. We are planning to take-off and operate the aircraft at higher speeds. We ran some additional tests last night as well.
BAYRAKTAR AKINCI LOG Today is an important day. I think this will be the final test before the aircraft becomes airborne. Flying is always a possibility. We prepare for the possibility of flight, even if we don't want it to fly yet. But we act like it will fly. That is why we took all the safety measures and completed our preparations as if we will fly it today.
But we're not planning to fly it today. Maiden flights always involve some level of uncertainty. It's like venturing into a new world full of unknowns or learning to swim.
Either way, one tends to be intimidated by the sea. But we always eliminate all the obstacles and barriers that might prevent the flight. In fact, we pay more attention to removing those barriers. We focus on obstacles and barriers that might prevent the flight or cause the aircraft to crash instead of the flight itself.. The first barrier is the chock.
It's the single greatest obstacle. It can stop the aircraft very easily. There are other barriers and obstacles though. There are millions of combinations and technical issues that could prevent the flight.
Technical and scientific reasons. You have to take precautions against each possible issue in advance. Here we go.
Hopefully, we're going to perform a high-speed taxi test at the crack of dawn today. We're going to let the aircraft take off slightly because it already reaches high speeds. Such tests are actually uncommon in the aviation industry. I'm talking about quick take-off and landing tests.
You either take off or land or fly. This is a very dangerous and difficult maneuver since we attempt to take off and land the aircraft on the same runway. In a way, we will let the aircraft fly for a short amount of time.
The phase in-between is somewhat easier. We will take off and turn around if we absolutely have to. Here's a list of today's flight tests. We'll see if we can meet those targets.
We have been preparing for days. Now we direct our undivided attention at this test. I'm going to pilot the aircraft together with my colleagues. Since this is the maiden flight, we've been rehearsing for days. I mean, we regard this test as the maiden flight because from now on, the aircraft will reach very high speeds and we might have to fly it. We might have to turn it around. Did you check the charts, Alper? Tell me the wind stats.
-8.9. We're not going to change the altitude. We'll stay at 2200 feet, okay? -It's ready. -Let's switch seats, then. Okay. You guys ready? -Ready. -Moving. Moving for taxing, okay?
Did you upload the chart? We did. -Do we have it here? -Well, not there. -Ready? -Ready. -Testing model max thrust is 1.1. -Yeah. It's about 10 degrees vertically. Ahmet, are you ready?
I'm ready. Any objections? Okay, here we go. Let's kick it off. Okay? We'll approach 90. They say you can't escape fate. If you try to keep the aircraft, which is now ready to fly, on the ground, you'll expose her to conditions with which she's not familiar.
That's because aerial vehicles are designed either to taxi on the ground at low speeds or to fly in the sky at high speeds. All the aerodynamic properties and engineering designs are based on that principle. If you keep the aircraft on the ground when it's supposed to fly, you might encounter other kinds of errors or failures. Now we can consider it.
We can consider this test the maiden flight, actually. -Let's declare it. -Sure thing. Congrats. We're going to analyze this run and conduct another test this afternoon.
I'm not sure if it's going to be a test or a flight. The weather is so nice. Should we fly? It's beautiful out there. I mean...
Let's analyze the data from all the aircraft's hardware and software thoroughly. Then I'll discuss it with the crew and we'll reach a decision. My colleagues and I have discussed this matter so many times.
We keep asking ourselves: why don't we go home at the end of the work day? Everyone here works unlike ordinary people do. The answer is that we do not have ordinary jobs. This story -all these planes you see behind me- is the result of perseverance. The TB2's initial versions crashed a couple times. They refused to give up.
When the aircraft crashed, they repaired it. They rebuilt it from scratch when it was destroyed. They were denied permission but they managed to obtain it. They didn't even know where to obtain permission at first. They tried very hard and refused to quit. I think the gist of this story is not giving up.
In 2014, the authorities decided to procure unmanned aerial vehicles without delay to support the troops conducting counter-terror operations. They also decided that all testing and approval-related activities, which were taking place in Keşan, would continue in Batman. We relocated the entire system to Batman overnight. I'm not sure if Murat told you about it. He served UAV unit commander at the time.
I called and informed him that we would arrive the following day. He didn't believe me at first. We moved the entire system overnight with planes. And we set up shop in Batman.
On Saturday night, we were making plans for the days ahead. That's when he told me that Mr. Selçuk would arrive on Tuesday. Mr. Selçuk and I hadn't before. I said: "Alright, I'll meet him when he gets here." Meanwhile, we received a phone call from the hangar. They told us that the first TB2 had been assembled.
We went to the hangar and saw the first Bayraktar TB2 to be assembled in Batman. It was shiny and bright under the spotlights. We took photos of it. Then Mr. Mustafa turned around
and asked the crew if they sent that photo to Mr. Selçuk. They said they did. Then Mr. Mustafa smiled, turned to me and said: "He'll be here tomorrow. He won't waste another second upon seeing this photo." The flight from Istanbul landed on Sunday morning.
Some 15 minutes later, a young man showed up with his suitcase. He said: "Hello, I'm Selçuk Bayraktar." That's how we met. I served as the Gendarmerie commander in the Batman province at the time. There was a room behind my office. I offered to let him use that room. I told him that he could stay there, but he insisted on sleeping in the hangar.
He always preferred To oversee the work personally. What followed was a busy period. Thanks to that team's extraordinary pace and hard work, the Bayraktar TB2 was assembled and became operational within a couple of days, whereas that process would have taken up to six months with a foreign UAV system. They worked for many days and nights and enabled the aircraft to reach the runway within six days of its arrival, if my memory serves. And the plane was airborne on the ninth day. It even climbed up to 27,000 feet.
It broke the national altitude record yet again. and remained in the air for 27 hours. In other words, we performed almost three times better than we were originally expected to do with the same operating costs. That, too, was a milestone because the aircraft was unarmed when the operations began.
We had just started testing it with ammunition. One day, I received a phone call as I was on my way to visit Gendarmerie outposts within my jurisdiction. It was Mr. Selçuk.
He told me that they developed an indigenous smart munition with Roketsan. That they had already integrated the munition to the Bayraktar TB2. And that they wanted to perform some firing tests. He said that the authorities refused to provide them with a firing range.
INDIGENOUS MISSILE SYSTEM FOR THE INDIGENOUS UAV I remember writing that story very well. The aircraft was already airborne and the crew wanted to conduct a firing test, but they couldn't. The aircraft took off with ammunition. It was in the sky and armed.
They wanted to test the munition but they lacked authorization. So a member of that crew wrote the following on the munition: "I am not authorized to fire." Perhaps it was Mr. Selçuk himself. I don't know exactly who did it.
I'M NOT AUTHORIZED TO FIRE! I couldn't believe that they weren't offered a firing range. The project was successful and the crew wanted to perform firing tests, but they weren't allowed to do that. How could that be possible? I told Mr. Selçuk that
we would do our best to help them conduct those tests wherever they wanted. I told him that we could designate a suitable location and do a recon beforehand so that they could strike that location. But Mr. Selçuk wanted to respect the rules and procedures to the best of his ability. After a lengthy struggle, they managed to overcome that challenge For example, the MAM-L's firing test was quite remarkable because it was the result of a struggle. You see it? Awesome, man! Awesome! Awesome! -It hit the target! -It really did! Congratulations, guys! May this be a blessing for our nation.
I broke those news. I only had one idea for the headline. In the editorial meeting, people were wondering about the headline. I said I had something in mind: "Armed."
A single word. Armed. ARMED That's because people already knew what it was and they were expecting it to happen anyway. They were competing against the titans of industry in Türkiye and abroad. They needed the Turkish people to support them. And probably the best way to receive that support was the media. I think the growing number of stories about Turkish engineers and technicians getting results and building aircraft helped them get where they are today.
This perception - well, let's not call it ‘perception' because it is a fact. I remember the initial reaction when we broke the news. Hundreds of websites picked up our story and even international websites reported it. It was completely unexpected for Turks to build a UAV-UCAV and integrate ammunition to that aircraft and use that ammunition.
I think it was a huge turning point especially when the Bayraktar TB2 entered the military's inventory and was subsequently used in operations. Initially, it was used effectively in places where the military conducted counter-terrorism operations. Later, unmanned aerial vehicle systems contributed greatly...
OPERATION OLIVE BRANCH ...to our armed forces during operations in Syria. Afterwards, they were used in Libya. That was the first time that this system was used in a conventional operation.
Ukraine, Azerbaijan. Massive turning points. Our UAV system made headlines all over the world as it emerged victorious from each battle. The Bayraktar TB2 rose to fame globally. The TB2 has become five times more famous than its closest competitors from all over the world.
It is even more famous than its rivals on the international stage. People paid tribute to our UAV by composing anthems. Bayraktar! Bayraktar! Bayraktar! There was a steady flow of news stories in front of me. I couldn't keep track of them. They were too many. At some point, I stopped trying to archive them all.
I realized that it wouldn't be possible to do that. RECORD-BREAKING BAYRAKTAR UAV IS READY FOR DUTY AT TAF Many media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Guardian, CNN, The Times, The Telegraph, and many more from all over the world, began to publish detailed articles about the TB2. At some point, there was a debate over the very necessity of tanks. You can destroy tanks with the TB2. You can offer safety to infantry and maneuver units carrying out operations.
You can destroy air defense systems. The TB2 was the first UAV to destroy an air defense system. It attracted attention as a battle-tested weapon system, after all. There are systems similar to the TB2. You can look up online and see similar systems in the academic literature.
But here's the difference: The only thing you can see online is the data sheets of relevant systems. So, you don't know how much of the operational capabilities and the technical data of the system translate to real-life situations and the battlefield. As an effective UCAV weapon system, the TB2 is now battle-tested. It gained this well-deserved reputation by doing what it was expected to do as well as possible when and where needed.
Guess what happened then. As you know, Azerbaijan had carried out some operations one year prior to Ukraine, and the Bayraktar TB2s were used in those operations. The German tabloid Bild published an article about the TB2s, at the time, calling them "killer drones." And approximately one year later the Bayraktar TB2s were used in Ukraine. And do you know how Bild, which had used the term "Killer Drones" before, referred to them? "The weapon of hope."
I think those two headlines are enough to grasp the situation. This company builds weapon systems and one might argue over whether promoting a weapon system is questionable. But here's the point: If there's a predator in the sky, rodents find it more difficult to run around on the ground. They are compelled to act more cautiously. That is what UAVs and UCAVs do. The aircraft can remain airborne for 21 hours at 20,000 feet, 25,000 feet or even 30,000 feet.
Nobody can see or hear it. It detects targets and neutralizes them. Those targets might be plotting an attack to military outposts or troops and units carrying out an operation. Sometimes you spot the targets on the move, as they cross the border. If you don't detect and neutralize such targets they would cross the country's borders and attack our outposts and bases near the borders, and keep hurting our people, as they repeatedly did in the past.
By using the drones, you're preventing all that before they take action. It's not possible to evaluate this objectively. Some believe these systems to be war machines, but I reject that notion.
They are technological tools built for peacekeeping and defending one's country. If we are to live in this region, if we are to lead our lives in this region, if we are to sustain our existence as a country, our armed forces need to be powerful. One would hope that people across the world would simply punch one another and throw stones instead of firing weapons, just like they used to do at the dawn of humankind. But we live in a world where one of the superpowers has a greater military expenditure than the rest of the countries combined. Unfortunately, there is a total lack of parity in this regard.
We live in a world where one attempts to develop just enough technology to live with dignity and survive And others try to get in the way. Landmines blow up on roads. Explosions claim the lives of babies and children. Teachers die. One cannot expect to find justice in a place with such disproportionate force. We have witnessed this in our country as well as Azerbaijan.
And now we witness the same thing in Ukraine. Something unbelievable is taking place in Ukraine. It really is unbelievable. A very great power is attacking a smaller country in violation of international law.
This greater power doesn't even see that attack as war, They call it an operation instead. Their adversary had no air force. There wasn't much that they can use to motivate their population. Around that time, the Bayraktar TB2s began to serve there. The Ukrainians had imported them from Türkiye long before the war. And the TB2s made an unexpected impact on the battlefield.
Drones not only transformed the battlefield, but also became a source of hope and morale for the people. I can't recall anyone composing an anthem to celebrate a weapon platform. It is an aircraft after all. They actually composed anthems for an aircraft. Bayraktar! I think the TB2's success in Ukraine made it significantly more recognizable. The Baykar plant has almost become a tourist attraction.
To the best of my knowledge, almost every foreign delegation visiting Türkiye asks to come and see the Baykar plant. UAV tourism has started. So the Baykar plant hosts an international delegation almost on a daily basis. There was talk of $1 billion worth of exports from last year alone.
Our export volume reached $1.2 billion for a single product. We make a single product which happens to be the world's most superior product. Instead of making ten average products, you can distinguish yourself by making just one product which is the best of its kind.
To be perfectly honest, had someone told me two decades ago about what would happen – that Baykar would have 3500 employees, that it would build plains weighing six tons as opposed to five kilos, that it would export to thirty countries and build aircraft and develop technology for which leaders from all over the world would wait in line I wouldn't have believed them either. But myself and others were confident that this work would be a spark and help our country get back on its feet right where it originally stumbled. Faith will move mountains. The weather is better than we expected.
It all boils down to luck now. Persistence of the Laz. That's the nature of our job.
If you want exceptional results, you have to work under exceptional conditions. How could we expect to get different results if we work like others work? We are all, more or less, the same. We need to act differently.
-Actually, we took off and landed. -Yeah. And how many times did we do that? At least for times. -Am I right? -Yeah. So we didn't do anything in-between. Let's analyze the data immediately.
If there is even the slightest concern or uncertainty, you should know that we don't have to fly today. We didn't plan to do so in the beginning. I'd say we repeat the test.
But if all goes well, we can fly after all. I can't see any setbacks right now. If we are convinced that all the conditions are now perfect, then we can fly. Okay then, let's kick it off. I particularly enjoy working with colleagues that can work independently. I'm talking about those colleagues that constantly improve themselves, by studying the academic literature worldwide and staying up-to-date, and consulting with their teammates.
I encourage them to do that and I approach what they know by asking questions. I think we're ready to fly because the aircraft seems capable of taking off and landing in a stable manner. We don't spot any errors or faults right now.
It is only after a detailed analysis that we might detect an error. Other than that, I think we'll fly the aircraft today. GNSS is in position. Directional sensitivity, check. VTKs, check. YVT signals, check.
The alarm went off. Engine monitors, check. We can ask for taxi clearance. You can start the taxi now.
It'll run autonomously and stop in the test mode. Okay. Vertical speed is good. A bit high, but good. How was it? Are we ready, Ömer? Just a second. We're waiting for clearance from the tower. Okay. Good luck, guys. You're clear for take-off.
Okay, I'm kicking it off. -Are we ready, Ömer? -We're ready. Here we go. -How much time has passed? -Ten minutes. Good. I'm going to start descending after two more minutes. Welcome.
Yeah! Take this to the beginning of the line. Wait. The aircraft will come here. Congratulations, guys. Congratulations. Gather around. Is the aircraft secure?
Gratefulness is the most dominant feeling here. Gratefulness to Allah. Honestly, as an engineer and a citizen of this country, being able to work on such a project and leading and contributing to such achievements and results is a blessing for me. And this blessing entails additional responsibilities, because now we have opened doors leading to a whole new world.
Now there is a long way ahead. We have a long way to go and I must keep that in mind, too. Come on, guys. I did not prepare a speech for such a special day but we need to remember the important things to be said.
The Kızılelma now represents the future of aviation in the world. Now it embodies the fact that we are no longer followers but among the playmakers in this industry. That we will be involved in shaping history.
We won't stop moving forward no matter how nefarious the defamations. We will keep fighting until our country attains complete independence in the sky. That's why it is that struggle itself that makes our life meaningful. I also want to commemorate with gratitude our comrades who passed on to the greater beyond. May they rest in peace. I also want to express my gratitude to our president and our country's senior officials for supporting the vision of national technology and defense.
I am also grateful to the Ministry of National Defense, the Defense Industry Agency, and the Turkish Armed Forces, with whom we have been working together. I extend my gratitude to Roketsan, Aselsan and all private and public institutions that have joined us on this journey. Finally, I want to thank our great nation for their support and keeping us in their prayers during this journey toward total independence in the sky. Thank you all. I pray that we will keep approaching the Kızılelma. To be honest, I feel like my father is with us now.
It almost feels like he has never left us. That's because we walked down the same path and have been comrades for years. And because we identified the principles and charted this course together. Indeed, if you have always worked toward something and you keep walking that path, then passing on to the greater beyond is just like a change of dimensions. It's like that spirit has always been with us along the way.
I feel like we are still walking the same path together. We proceeded to launch our space enterprise, Fergani Space. The Kızılelma will be the most advanced and capable combat aircraft platform in the atmosphere. And to contribute to our nation's space journey, we launched our space enterprise which focuses on space tugs, low Earth orbit satellites and satellite constellations.
We have a highly motivated team at Fergani Space. In other words, our work and responsibilities keep expanding. I would surely be nice to take a break sometime. THIS DOCUMENTARY IS DEDICATED TO THE BRAVE SOULS THAT DID THEIR BEST TO KEEP OUR COUNTRY FULLY INDEPENDENT IN THE SKY