Turkish-made drones used by Ukraine on the battlefield are “playing a huge role in Ukraine,” according to David van Weel, NATO’s assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges.
Van Weel told Anadolu Agency (AA) in an exclusive interview that Turkey’s drone industry “is a very good example of the very vibrant innovation system.”
“It is a good example of what innovation can do in modern-day warfare. The ongoing war in Ukraine demonstrates what the future of warfare looks like,” the senior NATO official said.
Ukraine have been using unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), namely Bayraktar TB2s made by the Turkish company Baykar, since the beginning of the war to hunt down Russian military gear from howitzers to air defense systems. Such use of drones with smart ammunition, with possible electronic warfare (EW) assistance was seen before on the battlefield in Syria, Libya and Karabakh in Azerbaijan.
Some analysts also suggested that Bayraktar TB2s may have even played a role in the sinking of the Moskva cruiser, a key part of Moscow’s fleet in the Black Sea. The TB2 has been hugely popular in Ukraine and it even became the subject of a patriotic expletive-strewn hit song in the country that mocked Russian troops, with the chorus “Bayraktar, Bayraktar.”
van Weel, meanwhile went on to say that although conventional arms, including tanks and artillery, and tactics like digging trenches have been widely used on the battlefield, modern technologies provided to Ukraine by the alliance since 2014 have played a key role in boosting Kyiv’s resilience against Moscow.
When the war in Ukraine began on Feb. 24, Russian attacks were not limited to tangible targets, said van Weel, underlining that Moscow also struck the country’s cyberspace. Aid by NATO, as well as private tech companies, enabled Kyiv to repel Russian endeavors, he added.
van Weel noted that artificial intelligence (AI) also bolstered Ukrainian response to attacks by pinpointing the location and intentions of Russian troops. He underscored that NATO possesses the most developed innovation ecosystem, which incorporates some of the best universities and technology companies in the world. “What is important is translating their potential and technologies into military use,” said van Weel, adding that this has been one of the alliance’s priorities.