As a diplomatic detente between the formerly adversaries in the region expands into military contracts, the Turkish defense company Baykar has shipped 20 armed drones to the United Arab Emirates this month and could sell more, according to two Turkish sources.
After their use in the conflicts in Syria, Ukraine, and Libya, where their laser-guided armor-piercing bombs assisted in repelling an attack by forces backed by the UAE two years ago, Baykar’s drones saw an increase in demand on a global scale.
Up until their reunion last year, the two nations engaged in a tense, decade-long struggle for dominance in the Middle East, which included the civil war in Libya.
According to military insiders, the UAE and its partner Saudi Arabia are now attempting to use their rapprochement with Turkey to offset a growing security threat from Iran and its proxy forces.
Both Gulf Arab oil-producing nations have seen drone assaults on towns and oil facilities, which they attribute to Houthi forces in Yemen who are allied with Iran.
According to a person with knowledge of the negotiations, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi were attempting to purchase Bayraktar TB2 drones from Ankara. The source stated, adding that they were transferred earlier this month, “They agreed during the negotiations with the UAE to immediately send 20 weaponized drones.”
A senior Turkish official acknowledged that Turkiye had given the United Arab Emirates some drones and that the UAE was looking for more. According to the official, Saudi Arabia also desired to purchase armed drones and establish a facility to produce them.
The insider said that Baykar was taking the Saudi government’s proposal for a manufacturing facility into consideration, but added that President Tayyip Erdogan had to make that strategic choice and that other matters, such as Saudi investments in Turkiye, “are not going as fast as feasible.”
Requests for comment from Baykar, the UAE foreign ministry, and the Saudi Arabian government press office went unanswered.