UAE in talks to buy Turkish “Bayraktar TB2” armed drones up to $2bn, report

An order of 120 TB2s is being discussed in the latest example of growing ties between UAE and Turkey, reported MEE citing exclusive sources

The United Arab Emirates is reportedly in negotiations to make a major purchase of armed drones from Turkish producer Baykar, two people familiar with the negotiations told Middle East Eye.

The talks between Baykar and state companies within the Emirati arms procurement agency Tawazun to supply the firm’s famed Bayraktar TB2 drones have continued since March, according to the sources.

Bayraktar TB2 drones have a proven track record against adversaries in conflicts in Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh. Most recently, they have been used against an army with sophisticated electronic warfare capabilities and state-of-the-art air defense systems in the Russian-Ukrainian war, where they have been deployed by Ukrainian forces.

So far they have proved extremely effective in combating Russian troops deployed deep inside Ukrainian territory, as well as within Russia’s borders.

One of the sources said the negotiations were focusing on the supply of 120 TB2 Bayraktars. “They will come with a package of ammunition, command and control centers, and training. Together it could be a deal of up to $2bn,” the source said.

The source added that some of the components of the TB2 might be produced in a Baykar plant in the UAE, if the deal goes forward.

Each Bayraktar TB2 goes for $5m and each aircraft requires 100 MAM-L smart micro munitions, which together are worth $15m, said one industry insider to the London-based outlet. There is also an additional cost for training as well as the command-and-control centers, which varies on the number of drones since each center can control up to six.

Baykar CEO Haluk Bayraktar said last month that his company has a three-year-long backlog of orders and that his company can produce about 20 Bayraktar TB2s in a month.

Turkey and the UAE began to restore relations over the past year, after 10 years of political and proxy conflicts in places such as Libya, Egypt and the Horn of Africa.

The new ties are quickly proving lucrative. There are Emirati plans to invest billions of dollars into Turkish health care, financial technology and startups.

Abu Dhabi also signed a $5bn currency swap deal with Turkey earlier this year. The two countries have also started negotiations on a free trade deal.