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Haluk Bayraktar – The Architect of the Turkish Drones and Supporter of Ukraine Against the Invasion of Russia

2022/09/01 07:09:00 |
“Turkiye will change the rules of the game in many sectors in the near future.”
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During Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's trip to Ukraine on August 18, 2022, which was his first since the start of the Russian invasion, on board his plane was an unusual figure that aroused a lot of interest in local and international media.

In addition to figures such as the head of the intelligence service, Hakan Fidan, the presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, and the head of the Defense Industries Authority, Ismail Demir, there was the general manager of the Baykar company for defense industries, Haluk Bayraktar.

In a remarkable way, Haluk Bayraktar's star has risen in recent months due to his great support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion, whether in words through his interventions and statements to various media or through actions through the shipments of the well-known Turkish drones and their influence on the battlefields.

It was also remarkable that this visit by Bayraktar came after media leaks and official statements about Russia's desire to cooperate with Turkiye in the field of Turkish drones, after it had achieved successes on many fronts, especially against Moscow's advanced systems and weapons.


Remarkable Rise

On August 19, 2022, Haluk Bayraktar posted a photo of him on Twitter with Volodymyr Zelensky and commented on it by saying: "Today I met the heroic President of Ukraine, the leader of the people and the supreme commander of the army," adding that "it is our hope that a just and lasting peace will prevail in humanity as soon as possible."

This is not the first visit or photo of the beloved Baykar general manager in Ukraine with Zelensky, as he shared a photo of him with the Ukrainian president on March 3, 2022, about a week after the start of the Russian invasion.

He commented, "I am glad that I met a brave man like you, so let victory go to those brave people who are defending their country against the brutal occupation."

In a move that was considered to be blocking the road for Russia, Bayraktar confirmed that he would not sell drones to Moscow, stressing that his company is proud that it has become a symbol of the Ukrainian resistance.

Bayraktar said in a television interview with CNN that his company did not supply or sell any drones to Russia and will continue to support the struggle for Ukraine's independence and freedom, adding that "Baykar has a long-term cooperation with Ukraine, as TP2S was used by Kyiv before the Russian-Ukrainian war."

In recent weeks, Turkish media reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin offered Erdogan to establish a factory for the Baykar company to produce Turkish parades in Russia.

On July 28, CNN Turk reported that Erdogan mentioned during his meeting with members of the Central Executive Committee of the Justice and Development Party that Putin called him and asked him to work together on the establishment of a factory for Baykar in Russia.

This was also confirmed by Erdogan on August 6, during an event in the state of Kocaeli, by saying that "there are great powers that want to invest with Turkiye in the field of drones," without explicitly mentioning Russia's name.

Turkish drones, especially the Bayraktar TP2, have a proven track record of success against many opponents in the conflicts that erupted in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Azerbaijan, and finally, Ukraine.


Poignant Positions

Among his recent statements that aroused international attention, Haluk Bayraktar revealed that his company is currently able to build 20 drones per month and that it has accumulated orders for three years, but it wants to increase its capabilities by building a new facility in Ukraine.

He added during an interview on August 14 with the Ukrainian Come Back Alive organization, which mobilizes international military support for its country, that "copies of the Bayraktar TB2 and Akinci drones are being produced, and we have a great demand for both."

He explained that "Baykar, which began exporting the first local drone in 2012, has contracts to export Bayraktar TB2, with 22 different countries currently. The company also recently signed contracts to export Bayraktar Akinci to 3 countries, and talks are continuing with other countries with the aim of expanding the scope of export."

In mid-June 2022, Baykar topped the list of Turkish companies specialized in the defense and aviation industries that exported their products.

According to a list prepared by the Turkish Exporters Council and reported by the official Anadolu Agency, Baykar's exports of armed drones in 2021 amounted to about $664 million.

After international fundraising campaigns for the purchase of Turkish drones for Ukraine, Bayraktar surprised everyone by donating three Bayraktar TB2 drones to Kyiv after it refused to receive $20 million collected by charitable campaigns as a price for those drones.

The company requested that this money be directed to the struggle of the people of Ukraine in a statement posted on Twitter on June 27, 2022.

On August 15, the Business Insider website commented on these developments by saying: "Baykar is establishing a new factory in Ukraine after the huge increase in demand for its drones, to the extent that the factory's production lines are booked for the next three years."

The website quoted the Ukrainian ambassador to Turkiye, Vasily Bodnar, that "Baykar has already purchased the land needed for the project in Ukraine, and the construction process will take several months, and its launch will not take place before the end of 2023."



Haluk Bayraktar was born on October 4, 1978, in Istanbul, studied industrial engineering at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, and graduated in 2000.

Then he obtained a master's degree in the same field from Columbia University in the United States in 2002.

Bayraktar returned to Turkiye after that to occupy various management positions within his father's company, Ozdemir Bayraktar (Baykar), which he founded in 1986 to produce parts for automobile engines, but its activity was transformed thanks to the efforts of Haluk and his younger brother Selcuk to Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technologies.

Haluk is married and has a son and a daughter, and he has two brothers, one named Ahmed and the other Selcuk, who is President Erdogan's son-in-law and the developer of the Bayraktar drones system.

Bayraktar was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Turkish Technology Team Foundation (T3) in 2017, and a year later, he was chosen to chair the Board of Directors of the Istanbul Defense, Aerospace and Aviation Group (SAHA Istanbul).

Bayraktar was appointed as a member of the Board of Directors of the Turkish Scientific and Technological Research Foundation TUBITAK by presidential decree in October 2018.

Bayraktar is also continuing his academic career in the field of business administration to obtain his PhD from Bogazici University in Istanbul.

In recognition of Bayraktar's contributions to the advancement of Turkish-Ukrainian relations to a strategic level, Zelensky awarded him on August 25, 2020, at the Presidential Palace in Kyiv, the Ukrainian Merit Order 3rd class.

Bayraktar was also awarded the Karabakh Order on June 15, 2021, by the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, for the contribution of the Baykar drones to the liberation of the region from the occupation of Armenia that exceeded three decades.


National Vision

At the local level, Haluk Bayraktar is involved in many national activities and projects to spread what is known as the national campaign for technology, such as the annual TEKNOFEST festival, which aims to attract children and young people interested in modern scientific investigations.

The most prominent projects that highlighted Bayraktar's national vision were evident with the rapid spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in Turkiye and the emergence of a large shortage of ventilators in intensive care rooms in hospitals at the beginning of 2020.

Within the framework of the Istanbul Defense, Aerospace and Aviation Group (SAHA Istanbul), whose board of directors is headed by Bayraktar, a national project was launched to produce respirators at a rapid pace.

Four Turkish companies participated in this mission, namely Baykar, Arcelik, which specializes in electrical and electronic devices, Aselsan, which specializes in military electronic industries, and Biosys for medical engineering, in cooperation with the Ministries of Health, Industry, and Technology.

During four weeks of intensive production, a production capacity of 5,000 devices per month was reached, according to the state-run TRT Arabi website.

Later, Turkiye began donating large numbers of these devices to many countries that suffered from the pandemic in Africa, Asia, and the Balkans.

In the context of his national vision, Bayraktar's comment on a report by the American Wall Street Journal titled Turkiye has become a global player in weapons manufacturing over the past two decades was remarkable.

Bayraktar wrote: "Our national technological vision is vital and crucial to our independence, and the high technologies that we develop within it are also the most important element for us to be a prosperous society."

"With a strong and innovative technology ecosystem, Turkiye will change the rules of the game in many sectors in the near future," he added in a tweet via Twitter on July 22, 2022.





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bayraktar akinci bayraktar tp2 haluk bayraktar recep tayyip erdogan russia russian-ukrainian war selcuk bayraktar turkey turkiye