The second prototype of Akinci combat drone being jointly developed by Turkey and Ukraine is scheduled to undergo tests soon.
“The Akinci drone’s second prototype is counting days to perform flights,” Selçuk Bayraktar, chief technology officer at Turkey's Baykar company said in a Twitter post.
The Akinci belongs to a new class of “heavy” drones. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has a wingspan of 20 m, and is powered by two Ukrainian AI-450 turboprop engines. It can fly at altitudes up to 12,000 m, and stay in the air for up to 24 hours. The drone can lift up to 900 kg of weaponry externally and up to 450 kg in the internal compartments of its fuselage. Its weapons include guided missiles and various normal and precision bombs.
The drone completed its first flight in December 2019- it flew for 16 minutes after take-off. Prior to this, the Akinci had undergone final ground tests which consisted of short sprints down the runway.
The AI-450 engines were installed on the UAV during August last year, after an agreement was signed to create a joint enterprise to be co-owned by Ukraine’s UkrSpecExport and Turkey’s Baykar.
Previously there were plans to equip the drone with RD-222 turbo-diesel engines developed by Tusas Engine Industries, but the project was subsequently altered to instead use Ukrainian propulsion systems.