Poland is expected to become the first NATO member to purchase Turkish-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) after Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak revealed plans for the country to buy 24 drones.
The first batch of Bayraktar TB2 drones is due to be delivered next year and will be armed with anti-tank projectiles. Poland will also be purchasing a logistics and training package.
The contract will be signed next week during Polish President Andrzej Duda’s visit to Turkey, circumventing the usual procurement process accompanying such a deal.
Turkey Becomes World’s Fourth-Largest Drone Producer
Turkey is an emerging player in the drone industry, with Reuters reporting it has become the world’s fourth-largest drone producer since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan increased domestic production.
This move is widely seen as an effort to reduce the country’s reliance on Western arms and grow manufacturing exports amid recent economic woes.
Interest in Turkish drones increased particularly late last year, when Turkish drones helped Azerbaijan retake territory from ethnic Armenian separatists lost in the mountains of Nagorno Karabakh decades ago.
Aside from Poland, the Turkish defense technology company Baykar has sold previous models of the Bayraktar armed drone to countries such as Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Qatar, Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco. Last March, Erdogan mentioned that Saudi Arabia also expressed interest in buying Turkish drones.