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Iran’s Use of Akinci in President’s Search Highlights Turkey’s Trustworthiness

Upon Tehran’s request, the Akinci drone successfully located the crash site and shared coordinates with the Iranian authorities. Here’s what defence experts say about this incident.

After Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter went missing on Sunday afternoon, its crash site remained undiscovered for nearly 12 hours. Türkiye quickly responded to Iran’s request for assistance. The Turkish government deployed an Akinci UAV, one of its most advanced drones, along with a Cougar-type helicopter equipped with night vision to aid in the search operation.

According to the Anadolu news agency, around 03:00 in the night, the Akinci UAV identified a heat source suspected to be the wreckage and promptly shared its coordinates with Iranian authorities. Iranian officials later confirmed the loss of all occupants, including President Raisi.

The successful deployment of the Turkish-made Akinci UAV in locating the crash site underscores the significant advancements in Türkiye’s defence industry over recent years.

“The answer lies in its strength as the most powerful UAV, equipped with twin-engine turboprop motors, making it a highly capable tool for missions such as this one,” Kadir Dogan, a defence technology analyst from TAV, told TRT World. Dogan noted that Ankara’s involvement in such a sensitive search operation signifies Türkiye as “the trusted country.”

Despite heavy cloud cover, the Akinci initially flew at 20,000 feet. As Dogan explained, although the infrared camera typically detects heat sources, water particles in the fog hindered the infrared rays. Descending to 10,000 feet made it easier for the infrared camera to detect the heat source, which allowed the GPS coordinates to be located and shared with the authorities.

Developed and produced by Baykar in Türkiye, the Akinci returned home after successfully locating the wreckage. Selcuk Bayraktar, chairman of Baykar’s board of directors, announced the mission’s success.

Dogan believes Türkiye “undoubtedly boasts one of the world’s best UAVs, if not among the top three. Türkiye is the only country with this capability and the only country from which such a request can be made.” He added that Türkiye possesses “one of the most organised armies in this region and even worldwide, especially in terms of reconnaissance, intelligence, and surveillance.”

The Turkish UAV efficiently located the accident site within approximately an hour after crossing into Iranian airspace. Completing a task that only a few countries’ technologies could accomplish, the Akinci UAV drew a ‘crescent and star,’ symbolizing the Turkish flag, in the sky upon its return, symbolizing national pride.

The mission was monitored online through the FlightRadar24 application, attracting the attention of nearly 2.8 million users. FlightRadar on X reported that “the most tracked flight last night was a Turkish UAV searching for the crashed helicopter in Iran. In total, almost 2.8 million users tracked the UAV.” Additionally, a live broadcast initiated by Anadolu Agency was followed by more than 3 million users.

Watching the operation online, Dogan said, “Türkiye has once again demonstrated that its developed UAVs instill confidence in friends and fear in enemies.”

Despite the tragic news, Bekir Ilhan from TAV believes this is a “big success for the Turkish defence industry.” He remarked, “It’s time for Akinci to shine, with its technical capacities and domestically produced components.”

The Bayraktar Akinci UAV boasts impressive flight performance capabilities, including a maximum altitude of 40,000 feet and an endurance of 24 hours, making it well-suited for extended missions. Its turboprop configuration allows it to scan the required area at low speeds.

The Bayraktar Akinci UAV stands out for its ability to reach altitudes of up to 40,000 feet, remain airborne for 24 hours, and utilize fully automatic flight control systems, enabling effective mission execution even in challenging weather conditions.

Ilhan suggests that advancing the Turkish defence industry is linked to political will and Erdogan’s strategic autonomy mission. “President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a big impact on the Turkish defence industry,” says Bekir Ilhan from TAV. “The key is the political will… the role of this success comes from the political will, and as long as it is there, the Turkish defence industry will continue to achieve successes like this.”

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