Bayraktar Akinci-B High-Altitude Long-Endurance (HALE) Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV)
Ch. Muhammad Natiq Ubaid
The Pakistan Air Force has signed a contract to procure Turkey’s Bayraktar Akinci heavy High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle. The drone will be produced under license in Pakistan starting next year, alongside Bayraktar Anka-S UAVs, for which a Transfer of Technology program is underway. The Akinci is a twin-engine turboprop long-range HALE UCAV drone capable of a 27-hour endurance and a flight ceiling of a little over 40,000 feet and a range of 7,500 kilometres.
The MTOW of the drone is 12,300 pounds, enabling it to carry a large number and variety of ATGMs, air to air missiles, air to ground precision munitions, cruise missiles, standoff weapons, and rockets on its eight hardpoints, with a total combat load of 2,976 lb (1,350 kg). Amongst the Akinci’s combat payload configurations, without a doubt, air-launched standoff range cruise missiles deserve the utmost attention. With a range of about over 600 kilometres, the Ra’ad ALCM & Akinci combination will provide Pakistani military planners with deep strike capabilities from unmanned platforms. In hostile airspaces, such a capacity can yield decisive strategic results, especially against high-value targets.
The Akinci also provides excellent Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities with a variety of electro-optical payloads. An onboard avionic suite with a triple-redundant avionic system encompasses units enabling a fully autonomous taxiing, take-off, landing and cruise. The Akinci drone is equipped with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, a Synthetic Aperture Radar/Ground Moving Target Indicator (SAR/GMTI) radar, numerous electro-optical surveillance systems, electronic warfare systems, ECM systems, and a signal intelligence suite (SIGINT), and SATCOM allowing Akinci to become an ISTAR plus command, control and communications (C3) asset for the Pakistani military.
The Akinci has SATCOM capabilities as well as datalink. During wartime, the Akinci could survey large areas of land and detect enemy mechanized formations, air defence sites and troop concentrations either through its signals intelligence arsenal or the impressively long range of its EO/IR sensor, which would then be engaged at standoff ranges by a plethora of precision air to ground weapons. Adversary reconnaissance and attack drones will also be engaged with Akinci’s air to air missiles. The Akinci provides the PAF with a highly effective & combat-proven unmanned ISTAR+C3+standoff strike platform, especially for penetrating air defences and conducting a variety of different missions, against both enemy air defence infrastructure and equipment and the integrated battle groups they are protecting.