Saturday 24 December 2022

The Rarity Of Idealism: Baykar’s Aid To Ukraine

Countries and private companies alike have taken actions in support of Ukraine amidst Russia's 2022 invasion of the country. Countless (private) efforts have been undertaken to make sure it can maintain its independence, whether through the provision of free Starlink satellite internet systems by SpaceX, the donation of 500.000 packs of cigarettes to the Ukrainian Army by Philip Morris International or the handout of 100.000 free flight tickets to Ukrainian refugees located in Eastern Europe by Wizz Air. [1] [2] [3] Military manufacturers around the world have also contributed significantly to Ukraine's Armed Forces, most often through the donation of military gear, ammunition, small drones and weapons. [4]
This outpour of support is unprecedented in the history of conflict, and shows how much Russia miscalculated the West's resolve (whether governmental or civilian) in supporting an European country under the very threat of annihilation. This resolve has not remained limited to EU members, and Türkiye too has been a significant provider of military aid to Ukraine. [5] Notably, this included the provision of TRLG-230 guided MRLs even before the arrival of U.S. HIMARS to Ukraine. [5] Türkiye is also the only (NATO) country that has supplied armament to Ukraine without the explicit condition that they not be used against targets located inside Russia, a leniency which Ukraine has gladly made use of. [5]
Though the Turkish government's (military) aid to Ukraine has been substantial, Turkish drone manufacturer Baykar Tech has also played a pivotal role in the country's military assistance. Since February 24, Baykar Tech has donated some 20+ Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs, 30 Mini-Bayraktar reconnaissance UAVs, EW equipment and twelve truckloads of humanitarian aid to Ukraine. [5] [6] On top of these donations, Baykar sold another ~15 TB2s at half price and through its decision to donate the five TB2s crowdfunded by Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland rather than to accept the collected funds, freed up $32 million that was then used for humanitarian and reconstruction projects for Ukraine.
Even as the total worth of Baykar's donations and discounts can currently only be guessed at (authors' educated guess: approaching $100 million), it is almost certainly more than some Western countries have provided in military aid to Ukraine. For those uncertain of the motivation for Baykar's decision to take such a prominent stance, the CEO and CTO of Baykar Tech, Haluk Bayraktar and Selçuk Bayraktar, have been particularly outspoken supporters of Ukraine, stating that "money is not a priority" for their company and ruling out ever supplying drones to Russia. [7] In the dog-eat-dog world of defence companies, and especially the highly competitive market for UAVs, such statements are unheard of.

The Mini-Bayraktar reconnaissance UAV, 30 of which were donated to Ukraine.

In addition to providing Ukraine with Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs since 2019, Baykar Tech and Ukraine have sought to further their cooperation by signing a deal for the establishment of a manufacturing plant for Bayraktar drones in Ukraine in September 2021. [8] Despite the fact that the Russo-Ukrainian War currently shows no sign of drawing to a close anytime soon, CEO Haluk Bayraktar estimates that the manufacturing plant in Ukraine will be completed in two years, stating: ''Our plan is moving ahead. And we will move ahead with construction actually. Within two years we would like to finish it''. [9]
A number of other initiatives have been set up by the company that underline its strong ties with Ukraine. Most notably, Baykar Tech has sought to aid Ukraine in combating the threat posed by Iranian-made loitering munitions by integrating Sungur IIR-guided MANPADS to the Bayraktar TB2. [10] Since March 2022 onwards, Baykar Tech has sent twelve truckloads of humanitarian aid to Ukraine. [6] In August 2022, 140 Ukrainian children were able to attend a week-long summer camp in Istanbul at Baykar's expense, and were even shown around Baykar's factory (which is also located in Istanbul). [10] Additionally, 30 Ukrainian university students were awarded a scholarship by Baykar in 2022, with 30 more students to receive the same honour in 2023. 

Renderings of the future Baykar Tech factory in Ukraine.

Defence manufacturers aren't generally known for taking idealistic stances in world matters, and are typically associated with excessive greed and a tendency to corrupt governments. Baykar Tech's deviation from this negative characterisation is a welcome change, and its continued efforts despite the comparatively low amount of exposure it has received are praiseworthy. Though skeptics will invariably argue that the donation of Bayraktar TB2s to Ukraine will pay itself out twofold in PR value, sending truckloads of humanitarian aid, organising a summer camp for Ukrainian children and providing financial support to Ukrainian refugees in Istanbul will not, nor will costly price reductions of its products or the donation of associated equipment. The unrivalled extent and breadth of aid should leave no doubt that there is a very genuine aspect of idealism involved in these decisions, a rarity in a world where pure motives are now too often regarded as a needless burden.

The following list attempts to keep track of equipment and aid delivered to Ukraine by Baykar Tech during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. This list will be updated as further support is declared or uncovered.

Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs)

  • 30+ Bayraktar TB2 [Delivered from March 2022 onwards] (Half donated by Baykar Tech, the other half sold at half the price)
  • 5 Bayraktar TB2s [Delivered from July 2022 onwards] (Crowdfunded by Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Polish citizens. Subsequently given to Ukraine by Baykar Tech free of charge with the $32 million collected used for aid)

Reconnaissance UAVs

  • 30 Mini-Bayraktars [Delivered from March 2022 onwards] (Donated by Baykar Tech)

Electronic Warfare (EW) Equipment

  • Airborne Electronic Warfare Equipment (For Bayraktar TB2) [Summer 2022] (Donated by Baykar Tech)

Ground Control Stations

  • ''Several'' Ground Control Stations (For Bayraktar TB2) [2022] (Donated by Baykar Tech)


Humanitarian Aid


  • Scholarship For 30 Ukrainian University Students For 4 Years In Türkiye [2022]
  • Scholarship For 30 Ukrainian University Students For 4 Years In Türkiye [2023]
  • Establishment Of Science Center(s) in Ukraine [2023 or 2024]


Ümitsizliğin ardında nice ümitler var. Karanlığın ardında nice güneşler var - After hopelessness there is so much hope and after darkness there is a much brighter sun (By Hz. Mevlana Rumi)

[1] Elon Musk’s SpaceX sent thousands of Starlink satellite internet dishes to Ukraine, company’s president says
[2] Philip Morris handing over 500,000 packs of cigarettes to Ukrainian army – MP Hetmantsev
[4] List of foreign aid to Ukraine during the Russo-Ukrainian War
[5] The Stalwart Ally: Türkiye’s Arms Deliveries To Ukraine
[9] Turkey's Baykar to complete plant in Ukraine in two years -CEO
[10] Turkish drone maker Baykar to counter 'kamikaze' threat in Ukraine 
Recommended Articles:
The Stalwart Ally: Türkiye’s Arms Deliveries To Ukraine