The Simsek System has been converted into a kamikaze drone, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) head Temel Kotil said during an interview with CNN Turk last week. The unmanned drone has been modified to detonate on impact with a target. It can also be launched from a drone and be used as a decoy to confuse enemy air defenses.
“It can carry five kilograms of explosives, and it can fly around 100-200 kilometers (62-124 miles) when launched from a UAV,” Kotil explained. “We produce 100 Simsek drones per year.”
The program for the original Simsek began in 2009 with the goal of improving defense against aerial threats. The drone can fly at a maximum speed of 460 mph (740 kph) and an altitude of up to 15,000 feet (4,670 m). The original Simsek was designed for catapult launch systems like many drones but can also be launched from ships.
— Turkish Aerospace (@TUSAS_EN) March 26, 2021
Recent developments have allowed the Simsek to be launched from the TAI Anka drone and, potentially, from the Aksungur twin-engine drone. This will help extend its range and increase the survivability of the launch vehicle. However, compared to other “suicide drones,” Simsek’s kamikaze variant has a shorter range of up to 124 miles (200 km) when air-launched.
Only Static Targets
The Simsek does not operate like typical loitering munitions over the battlefield, making the drone more likely to operate as a traditional air-to-ground missile, attacking only static targets.
Adding optical sensors and data links to Simsek, however, could allow it to loiter around a target area for some time, search for targets, and attack once one is located. However, these additions would make the drone more expensive and harder to produce.
According to reports, Simsek’s kamikaze variant is ready for operational use. Development to enhance its payload and maneuvering capabilities continues.
Turkish combat drones have scored high-profile successes in Syria, Libya, and Azerbaijan, making the country a top exporter of the aerial vehicles.