As the security crisis between Ukraine and Russia continues to escalate, Turkey is reportedly ready to sell Kyiv at least two dozen more Bayraktar TB2 attack drones, Bloomberg reported on Dec. 3.
Moreover, the Istanbul-based manufacturer Baykar Makina has sold Ukraine many more attack drones than previously disclosed, according to Bloomberg.
The company's representatives and the Turkish government declined to say how many drones were sold to Ukraine to date.
According to official figures, Ukraine's military currently operates a total of 12 Bayraktak TB2s, which are used for reconnaissance missions close to the war zone of Donbas.
Kyiv-based think tank Defense Express cast doubt on the Bloomberg story, saying the short-term sale of two dozen drones is unlikely.
So far, Turkey has sold a dozen Bayrakhtars to Ukraine. Six of these, plus three control stations, and a number of guided missiles cost Ukraine nearly $70 million in 2019. According to the think tank, Ukraine planned on allocating funds to buy two or three new Bayraktar TB2 systems in 2022.
On Oct. 26, one of the Turkish-made drones successfully performed its combat debut in Donbas by silencing a D-30 field gun operated by Russian-led militants. The drone strike was authorized in retaliation for artillery attacks that killed a Ukrainian soldier and injured two.
Ukraine's first-ever use of killer drones in combat triggered an uproar and a strong reaction from the Kremlin. President Vladimir Putin of Russia had expressed his dissatisfaction to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a Dec. 3 phone call, Bloomberg reported.
Ukraine's top military commander, Lieutenant General Valerii Zaluzhniy, said the country's military wants at least 24 Bayraktars, and that a new contract might be coming in 2021 or 2022.
Meanwhile, Ukraine and Turkey are working on launching a Bayraktar drone production line in Ukraine, in a bid to meet the skyrocketing demand for the vehicles across the world, following their successful combat performance in Syria, Libya, Azerbaijan, and eastern Ukraine.
According to Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, Ukraine and Turkey have already registered a legal entity and purchased a plot of land for the new drone factory, which is expected to be launched in full swing by the end of 2022.
Ukraine now faces a growing threat from Russia, which has amassed nearly 100,000 troops near its border and in occupied territories. The U.S. and its European allies warned that a large-scale Russian invasion is likely in late January or early February.
According to multiple media reports, the U.S. and other Western countries are considering providing Ukraine with advanced weapons like MIM-104 Patriot air defense systems, Harpoon shipwreck missiles, or FIM-92 Stinger man-portable anti-aircraft weapons that could help Ukraine's military cripple Russia's invasion force.