The Rise of Turkey's Baykar Technologies, Part I: Facilities

In partnership with Johns Hopkins University and written by Owen LeGrone
Latest
Continuous Facility Expansion
Impact
Increased Drone Operations
Published
Sep 4
2022
2 months, 4 weeks
Overview

Baykar Technologies, based in Istanbul, Turkey, is one of the predominant manufacturers of Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV) today. This report examines the growth, current disposition, and likely future changes to the company's physical infrastructure at its three principal facilities.

Activity

The following analysis contains two major themes: the development of Baykar facilities over time and their current capabilities.

Introduction

In 2004, a small family-owned auto parts business in Istanbul began developing unmanned aircraft. Over the next 18 years, Baykar Technologies transformed into Turkey’s top defense exporter and one of the world’s most successful manufacturers of Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV). The company has become a source of national pride within Turkey, while western governments have expressed concern over what they perceive to be its unchecked proliferation of advanced weapons.

The infrastructure that supports Baykar’s operations has hitherto been relatively unexamined in English-language scholarship. This report aims to analyze the company’s capabilities using open sources and commercially available satellite imagery. This part will identify the key facilities associated with Baykar, explore how they have changed over time, define characteristic geospatial aspects, and extrapolate potential future developments. Part II will analyze the critical activities that occur at these facilities and establish a baseline of knowledge about Baykar’s operational model.

Key Intelligence Questions

  1. What facilities are used for UCAV R&D, production, crew training, systems testing, and product delivery?
  2. To what extent has Baykar's infrastructure expanded since it entered the UAV market in 2004?
  3. What indications of additional expansion of infrastructure in the near future can be detected?
  4. What does the disposition of Baykar infrastructure indicate about the relationship between this company and the Turkish military?

Methods

This GEOINT-enhanced economic analysis, like other standard economic analyses, is focused on capability and company efficiencies. It incorporates commercially available satellite imagery alongside numerous other open sources. Baykar and its most prominent executives, Haluk Bayraktar (CEO) and Selçuk Bayraktar (CTO), generate a substantial amount of content via social media and through their corporate website. Turkish and international media also contributed useful information. In many cases, social media and other media content were geolocated to a particular site, providing coverage of that site unavailable through satellite imagery alone.

For further clarity, the source of each observation cited is noted in the text or in a caption. A lexicon of specific terms listed in Table 1 is used to communicate estimative probability.

Executive Summary

  • Baykar created an industrial campus with at least 54,235m2 of production and administrative space in the Esenyurt district of Istanbul between 2014 and 2022.
  • Baykar began operating its first permanent, dedicated flight test and training facility at Keşan Military Airport in 2014, and a second at Tekirdağ-Çorlu Atatürk Airport in 2019.
  • Baykar expanded the hangar space available for UCAV operations by nearly five times, from 2,270m2 at one airfield to 10,942m2 at two airfields, between 2014 and 2022. It also improved aprons and runways, established specialized communications systems, and built other permanent infrastructure.
  • Baykar is likely to complete additional manufacturing space at its current production campus and begin developing a new, adjacent property over the next one to two years.
  • Baykar is likely to add hangar, administrative, and support buildings, new apron space, or a combination of these to its test and training sites over the next two years.
  • Baykar likely remains committed to constructing additional production, training, and/or test facilities in Ukraine in the near future.
  • The Baykar test site at Tekirdağ-Çorlu Airport is likely to host prototypes of the stealthy Bayraktar Kızılelma turbofan-powered UCAV starting in 2023. The test site at Keşan Military Airport is likely to host the Bayraktar TB3 carrier-based UCAV beginning in late 2022.
  • The geographic distribution of Baykar operations reflects a close relationship with the Turkish military. All major Baykar facilities are either within or adjacent to military bases belonging to the 1st Army of the Turkish Land Forces. Baykar uses former military land, buildings, and airfields in its operations.

Background

The story of Baykar has been highly publicized in recent years, and therefore this report will provide only a brief outline to establish the necessary analytical context. Baykar Makina (Baykar Machines) was founded in 1981 in Istanbul by Özdemir Bayraktar (1949 – 2021) as an auto parts and machining business. The elder Bayraktar had three sons: Haluk Bayraktar (b. 1978), Selçuk Bayraktar (b. 1979), and Ahmet Bayraktar (b. 1983). Selçuk received a Master’s degree in unmanned aircraft systems from the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, and at this time, he and his father decided to pursue a mutual interest in aeronautics and refocus Baykar on developing UAVs. Haluk joined them as general manager and Ahmet as financial manager. Selçuk divided his time between Baykar and further postgraduate studies at MIT and Georgia Tech before returning to Turkey permanently in 2007 as Baykar’s CTO.

Baykar partnered with Kale Kalıp, a larger Turkish defense and aerospace firm, to help develop its designs. It achieved its first commercial success with the Bayraktar Mini UAV, which entered service with the Turkish military in 2007. By 2009, it had developed a “Tactical” UAV, the “Çaldıran,” as well as an unmanned helicopter dubbed “Malazgirt.” The latter received only a small one-time order, but Baykar was awarded a contract in 2010 to develop the “Çaldıran” prototype into the TB2 (Tactical UAV, Block 2), which entered service in 2014. The Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance (MALE) TB2 included a number of features that were groundbreaking at the time, including a triple-redundant flight control system and the ability to take off, land, and taxi autonomously. It was also the first Turkish UAV to be armed with air-to-ground munitions, a project which Baykar undertook with its own resources in 2015.

In 2017, as the Bayraktar TB2 became the dominant UCAV of the Turkish armed security services, Baykar established programs for more advanced unmanned aircraft: a turboprop-powered High-Altitude, Long-Endurance (HALE) UCAV, the Akıncı (“Raider”), and a stealthy turbofan-powered UCAV, the Kızılelma (“Red Apple,” a Turkish proverb for a distant goal). The former entered service in 2021, while the latter is expected to fly for the first time in 2023. An advanced naval variant of the TB2, the Bayraktar TB3, is also under development for the air wing of the Turkish LHD Anadolu.

The members of the Bayraktar family, in addition to their expertise in manufacturing UAVs, shared a profound sense of nationalism. Their products were designed to be completely indigenous (“national”), requiring no major foreign components – a goal that emerged partly from the refusal of the United States to sell Turkey the MQ-1 Predator UCAV in the early 2000s. Perhaps as a consequence of this, they developed connections to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) soon after attaining commercial success.

In 2016, Selçuk Bayraktar became the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when he married his youngest daughter, Sümeyye. President Erdoğan subsequently granted Baykar a number of lucrative government benefits, including tax and export duty exemptions, through Presidential decrees in 2019 and 2021. Baykar’s drones have been used to support Turkey’s foreign policy goals and those of its allies, including the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) in 2019, Azerbaijan in 2020, and most recently, Ukraine in 2022. They have also won Turkey a large share of the international market for unmanned combat aircraft due to the TB2’s mixture of affordability, combat effectiveness, and ease of operation. In 2022, Baykar (now Baykar Teknoloji, or Baykar Technologies) was both a multimillion-dollar enterprise and a national icon.

Facility Locations

Baykar Technologies has a global footprint. However, most of its activities are concentrated at three major sites in East Thrace, the European region of Turkey.

All research, development, and manufacturing, as well as limited product testing, takes place in the western Esenyurt district of Istanbul at the Özdemir Bayraktar R&D and Production Center (“Esenyurt”). This site is Baykar’s production campus and corporate headquarters.

Two facilities in the rural western part of East Thrace share principal responsibility for flight testing and training operations: Keşan Military Airport (“Keşan”) and Tekirdağ-Çorlu Atatürk Airport (“Çorlu”). Keşan houses the Keşan Flight Training and Test Center, where Baykar operates the Bayraktar TB2 UCAV and Bayraktar Mini UAV systems. The main facility at Çorlu, Çorlu Flight Training and Test Center, supports the larger and more advanced Bayraktar Akıncı UCAV as well as some TB2 test operations. Çorlu also processes shipments for foreign customers.


Keşan

Location: Edirne province, Turkey (40.789447, 26.607594)

Runway: 02R/20L (1,550m), Asphalt

History

This military airfield was likely established during the Cold War. It appears to have been used infrequently during the 2000s. In 2013, it was referred to as “empty,” a description supported by analysis of satellite imagery dated 03 Aug 2013 and 18 Nov 2013. The airfield was resurfaced between Baykar’s initial flight test of "Çaldıran" on 08 Jun 2009 and satellite imagery dated 08 Nov 2009. This renovation was likely conducted at the initiative of the host unit command, as it included eight new parking pads for military vehicles. No aircraft were observed in satellite images of the site before Baykar began more intensive operations in 2014.

Development

  • Between 28 Apr 2016 and 21 Nov 2021, hangar facilities were expanded from three hangars with approximately 2,270m2 of aircraft space to five hangars with approximately 6,050m2 of aircraft space. The latest was constructed between satellite imagery dated 14 Oct 2021 and 21 Nov 2021. One of the original hangars, a Quonset-style structure near the apron, was fully enclosed and given exterior doors.
  • Between satellite imagery dated 25 Sep 2020 and a video dated 04 Dec 2020, the asphalt runway was lengthened from 1,300m to 1,550m.
  • Between satellite imagery dated 02 Sep 2018 and 13 Jun 2019, two metal frame towers hosting UAV communications antennas were constructed. A third was added between 13 Jun 2019 and 14 Mar 2020.
  • Between imagery dated 02 Sep 2018 and 13 Jun 2019, an equipment shelter was erected on the apron.

Current Disposition

Baykar operations encompass the entire area of Keşan Military Airport, which contains the Keşan Flight Training and Test Center. The airport is surrounded by open fields and has no security fence, although the main hangar building is fenced. The site is approximately 144km from Çorlu along the E84 highway and 207km from Esenyurt along the E84 and E80 highways.

Operational Capacity

Keşan likely has the ability to store approximately 30 TB2 UCAVs in five hangars (see estimates below). One or two TB2 UCAVs have been visible in nine out of 16 satellite imagery captures of the airfield from 17 Feb 2017 to 05 Oct 2021, suggesting steady rotation of aircraft in and out of the hangars, with aircraft emerging shortly before they fly and returning afterwards.

Observation of containerized Ground Control Stations (GCS) used with Baykar UCAVs indicates that the number of aircraft operating from the site has likely increased. In on-the-ground videos taken during 2014, 2015, and 2016, no more than two TB2 GCS trailers and one truck-mounted GCS were visible at once – enough for a single standard TB2 Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) with six aircraft. This reflects the known production rate of six TB2s annually during those years (see Baykar Product Deliveries file). Four GCS trailers were seen in a single available satellite observation in 2017, increasing by 2021 to as many as 10, including two mobile systems. This is indicative of a rise in flight operations.

Keşan Flight Training and Test Center

  • Main Hangar. Interior photographs of this two-story 96m x 40m hangar show that it can accommodate at least 20 TB2 UCAVs simultaneously on its ground floor. It also contains offices and classrooms. It is surrounded by a 7,000m2 concrete pad enclosed by a security fence.
  • Quonset Hangar. This hangar can store at least four TB2 UCAVs simultaneously. It was also used in 2017 for assembly of new aircraft arriving from the factory, although whether it still serves this role is unknown.
  • 30m x 30m Hangar. This structure was built in 2021 next to the Quonset hangar (see Development above). Given its relatively brief construction period, it is likely a tension fabric structure similar to the secondary hangars built at Çorlu.
  • Frame Hangars (2). These single-story structures are original to the site. The southern one, nearer to the apron, is likely used more often. Given their dimensions, they could likely accommodate at least three TB2s each.
  • Equipment Shelter. This structure, approximately 30m north of the Quonset hangar, is likely intended to store support equipment and provide a space for ground crews to shelter from the sun.
  • Communications Towers (3). These towers likely support the Ground Data Terminal (GDT) and Automatic Tracking Antenna System (ATAS) antennas associated with the TB2 UAS, as well as potentially other antennas. They include a staircase and work platform for technicians. Based on photographs taken from the ground, their height is approximately 12m.
  • Aircraft Parking Spaces (3). These are used by TB2 UCAVs.
  • Equipment Parking Area. This area, directly to the north of the Quonset hangar, contains nine designated parking spaces used by TB2 GCS trailers and mobile generator trailers. Ground equipment has also been spotted in ad hoc locations on the apron.

Military Presence

Both Keşan Military Airport and the Gen. Kazım Karabekir Barracks to the north are associated with the 4th Mechanized Infantry Brigade. This unit is part of the 2nd Corps of the 1st Army of the Turkish Land Forces. At least two mechanized infantry battalions and two tank battalions, as well as support units, are stationed at Kazım Karabekir. Analysis of satellite imagery indicates the presence of armored vehicles near the airfield both before and after Baykar began using it, generally to the east and northeast sides of the main runway.

  • Another sizable military base, Gen. Fevzi Mengüç Barracks, is located approximately 1.8km to the east of the airport but has no direct connection by road. It likely hosts the 4th Mechanized Artillery Battalion, which is also a formation of the 2nd Corps. The two military bases are approximately one kilometer southeast of the town of İzzetiye, the nearest settlement.

Future Activity

  • More enlargement of existing site infrastructure is highly likely over the next two years, considering estimated increases in TB2 production. This may include additional support buildings and enlargement of the apron. Any construction on the eastern side of the airfield is likely to come at the expense of the remaining military structures there.
  • This site is likely to host the Bayraktar TB3 UCAV, an advanced and heavier derivative of the Bayraktar TB2, for flight testing and possibly training operations. Baykar plans for this UCAV to make its first flight in late 2022. Keşan is logically preferable as a TB3 host to the other Baykar test site, Çorlu, because of its existing association with the similar TB2 program. Baykar-owned TB2 testbed “T-PT1” and several serial production TB2s underwent intensive testing at the site during 2022; this included touch-and-go landings common in carrier operations. The additional 250m of runway length added between 25 Sep 2020 and 04 Dec 2020 was likely planned in expectation of the TB3 as well. This UCAV has a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 1450kg, over twice the 700kg MTOW of the TB2, and logically will require additional space to become airborne.


Çorlu

Location: Tekirdağ Province, Turkey (41.142468, 27.920168)

Runway: 04R/22L (3,000m), Concrete

History

This airfield was originally a military airport similar to Keşan. It was recategorized in 1998 as a dual-use airport, Tekirdağ-Çorlu Atatürk Airport (TEQ), under the jurisdiction of the General Directorate of State Airports Authority (DHMI). A commercial apron on the southwest side of the runway was likely constructed at this time. Between satellite imagery dated 15 Jun 2012 and 24 Sep 2014, a third apron for 39 light aircraft was added. The sole cargo handler with dedicated facilities at the airport, Odrap Air Cargo, constructed a warehouse between imagery dated 26 May 2011 and 15 Jun 2012. Baykar chose to build Çorlu Flight Training and Test Center at this airport in 2019 to support the Bayraktar Akıncı UCAV, which required a longer runway than that of Keşan.

Development

  • The Çorlu Flight Training and Test Center, a secure complex including an apron, hangars, and support buildings, was constructed on the site of a 400m x 130m parking area near the military apron starting in early 2019. By the first flight of the Akıncı on 06 Dec 2019, the Center had an area of approximately 18,000m2. It was expanded again to 30,000m2 between imagery dated 05 Mar 2021 and 20 Nov 2021.
  • Between 08 Mar 2019 and 16 Nov 2021, the hangar facilities available to Baykar were expanded from one hangar with approximately 840m2 of aircraft space to four hangars with approximately 4,892m2 of aircraft space. All three new hangars were constructed within the Çorlu Flight Training and Test Center.
  • Approximately 14,400m2 of concrete apron was constructed within the Çorlu Flight Training and Test Center between imagery dated 16 Apr 2019 and 20 Nov 2021.
  • Two metal towers with platforms for control antennas, similar to those observed in Keşan, were constructed between imagery dated 08 Mar 2019 and 10 Aug 2020.
  • A probable administration building was constructed in the northwest corner of the Center between imagery dated 25 Mar 2021 and 09 Feb 2022.

Current Disposition

Baykar operations at Çorlu are divided spatially between the Çorlu Flight Training and Test Center, accessed through a gate-controlled road from the Gen. Faruk Gürler Barracks, and the commercial terminal of the airport, accessed through the main civilian airport gate. Some operations also take place on the northern military apron. Only two airlines used Çorlu for passenger flights in July 2022, Cairo Air and Pegasus Air, and they both ran irregular schedules.

The site is approximately 78km from the production campus at Esenyurt along the E80, E84, and D100 highways, and approximately 144km from Keşan along the E84 highway.

Operational Capacity

The three hangars within Çorlu Flight Training and Test Center can likely accommodate five to seven Akıncı UCAVs at once. If additional space is required, Baykar has been known to use the northern military apron as a parking area. Seven Akıncı were seen there in July 2022 for an “elephant walk” photoshoot. A pre-existing hangar on this apron can likely also host aircraft. No TB2 UCAVs have yet been identified in satellite imagery of Çorlu.

Both Akıncı and TB2 GCS trailers are visible in satellite imagery of the site. On 16 Nov 2020 and 05 Dec 2020, a single Akıncı GCS trailer and two TB2 trailers were visible. On 25 Mar 2021, the number of TB2 GCS trailers increased to four and a Sinus motor glider was seen parked in the open for the first time. The latter aircraft appeared in the next two consecutive captures as well. On 09 Feb 2022, one Akıncı, two Akıncı GCS, and two TB2 GCS (possibly four) were visible. While this possibly indicates a rising operational tempo, more observations would be needed to determine a clear pattern.

The commercial apron at Tekirdağ-Çorlu Atatürk Airport has eleven designated parking areas but no large hangars. Cargo shipping activity likely increased following the beginning of Baykar operations in 2019. Before this year, only one commercially available satellite image (09 Jul 2017) had captured a military cargo aircraft rather than an airliner, but images dated 20 Nov 2021 and 09 Feb 2022 both revealed two An-12 transports. Another military cargo aircraft seen on the apron since late 2019, an Il-76, was likely not involved in shipments (see Delivery section in Part II).

Çorlu Flight Training and Test Center

  • Main Hangar. This 52m x 40m structure can hold at least three Akıncı UCAVs. It has also been observed to house one Akıncı, one TB2, and two Pipestrel Sinus motor gliders simultaneously. The side rooms contain offices, training classrooms, and a flight control center with an 8-panel display and multiple computer workstations.
  • Secondary Hangars (2). These 45m x 30m tension fabric structures are used to shelter Akıncı UCAVs and ground equipment. They have not been observed holding more than a single Akıncı each.
  • Probable Administration Building. This building likely houses offices.
  • Communications Platforms (2). These are shorter scaffolds holding probable UAV communications antennas, similar to the larger communications towers nearby.

Military Apron

  • Hangar. This frame hangar, original to the military apron, can likely accommodate at least three TB2-sized vehicles. Baykar likely makes use of the space, as evidenced by the presence of vans near it in videos of flight operations. It is probable that aircraft are occasionally stored here.
  • Communications Towers (2). Like their counterparts at Keşan, these towers are designed to support communications with UCAVs.
  • Storage Building. This structure is also original. It is likely used to hold equipment used in operations, and may also contain equipment and aircraft awaiting delivery to customers.
  • Security Checkpoints (2). These checkpoints control access to the apron from the barracks to the north and west. A seemingly uncontrolled entrance also exists further from the hangar and storage building.

Commercial Apron

  • Odrap Air Cargo Hangar. The only large cargo handling facility at Çorlu, this structure has a stated indoor storage area of 3,500m² and a 20,000m² external ramp area. Baykar has never publicized a relationship with Odrap, but likely uses its services for transshipment (see Delivery section in Part II).
  • Passenger Terminal. This building supports all passenger traffic through the airport.
  • Customs Offices. This two-story office building houses the Çorlu Airport Customs Directorate. It would logically be involved in all exports of Baykar equipment to foreign customers.

Military Presence

  • Çorlu borders the Gen. Faruk Gürler Barracks, home to the 105th Artillery Regiment, to the north. This regiment is part of the 5th Corps of the 1st Army of the Turkish Land Forces. The Çorlu Flight Training and Test Center connect directly to the barracks via an access road. Baykar’s facilities were built adjacent to the military apron and include connecting driveways to the base access road. Satellite imagery analysis indicates that approximately 39,800m2 of base land was appropriated by Baykar to build Çorlu Flight Training and Test Center and an adjacent parking lot between 2019 and 2022.

Future Activity

  • Additional enlargement of the existing infrastructure at Çorlu is likely over the next two years, considering estimated increases in both Akıncı and TB2 production (see Production section in Part II). This may include additional support buildings and new apron space within the Çorlu Flight Training and Test Center. It is also possible that new facilities will be constructed along the military apron. Any construction at either location is likely to take place on land associated with the Gen. Faruk Gürler Barracks.
  • This site is likely to host the Bayraktar Kızılelma UCAV when it begins flight tests in 2023. Keşan, the only other Baykar-operated test facility, is unlikely to have adequate runway length for this aircraft. The known MTOW of the Kızılelma is 6 tons (5,443kg), significantly higher than the TB2 (700kg) but less than the Akinci (6,000kg), which already operates from Çorlu. Additionally, the Kızılelma will be powered by a turbofan engine, necessitating on-site jet fuel storage. Çorlu possesses a POL farm with jet fuel storage tanks while Keşan does not.


Esenyurt

Location: Istanbul Province, Turkey (41.09444, 28.63667)

History

The land now occupied by the Baykar production campus was an empty field prior to September 2016, with the exception of two areas within the perimeter of the nearby Hadımköy Barracks military base. Baykar likely purchased the property in 2015 or 2016. Land owned by Baykar was designated “Baykar Makina Inc. Istanbul Private Industry Zone” (Baykar Makina Sanayi ve Ticaret Anonim Şirketi İstanbul Özel Endüstri Bölgesine) by decree of President Erdoğan on 03 Oct 2019, a status that entitled the company to special benefits including reimbursement of infrastructure costs, expedited licensing, and waiver of normal business fees.

Development

  • The land area within the Private Industry Zone expanded by over 100%, from 18.2ha to 40.4ha, between 03 Oct 2019 and 10 Mar 2021 with the acquisition of a new undeveloped property to the northeast of the existing campus.
  • Two large factory buildings with a combined 54,257m2 of production and administrative space were constructed between 15 Sep 2016 and 12 Jul 2019.
  • An engine test building and an aircraft test hangar were added between 24 December 2017 and 12 Jun 2018, followed by a concrete test track and control tower between 12 Jun 2018 and 12 Jul 2019.
  • An R&D facility, the Özdemir Bayraktar National Technology Center, was built between imagery dated 12 Jun 2018 and 17 Jul 2022.
  • Outdoor and probable indoor parking areas with approximately 19,300m2 of parking space were built between imagery dated 23 Nov 2019 and 17 Jul 2022.
  • A variety of employee amenities, including parks and a cafeteria, were constructed between 03 Nov 2019 and 25 Jun 2022.
  • Preparatory development activity, including surveying and delivery of construction materials, took place at the second property between imagery dated 03 Aug 2021 and 20 May 2022.

Current Disposition

The current Baykar production and R&D campus is located at 258 Hadımköy-İstanbul Road, 34000 Esenyurt, Istanbul. It encompasses a total area of approximately 18.2ha (182,000m2), or approximately 45% of the current total area of Baykar Makina Inc. Istanbul Private Industry Zone. The campus is surrounded by a 1,900m security fence and has three main entrances, including one on the east side used by construction vehicles. Construction has yet to begin within the second, 22.2ha property added in 2021.

Baykar Production Campus

  • Main Factory and Administration Building. This 27,707m² structure has two stories. The main production hall, measuring approximately 117.5m x 50m, takes up both floors and is surrounded by ground-floor workshops for components and avionics. Offices for administrative staff, engineers, and programmers are located to the west of the production floor and on the second story. Large components enter and finished airframes leave through a 12m-wide door on the east side of the production hall.
  • Second Factory Building (Advanced Composites Facility). This structure likely corresponds to a building described by Baykar as an “Advanced Composites Facility.” It contains composite material processing and treatment equipment, as well as a structural test rig for the Akıncı UCAV. It is likely that early production processes for the TB2 and Akıncı are housed in this facility.
  • Test Track. This 140m x 30m concrete track is likely used for ground tests of large UCAVs, like the TB2 and Akıncı, and flight tests of VTOL aircraft. It hosted the first flight of the Baykar Cezeri “flying car” on 15 Sep 2020. It has also been used as a staff parking area, likely due to ongoing construction activity nearby.
  • Engine Test Facility. This structure houses two engine test stands and test equipment. Various engines for UCAVs, including the PD170 and PD220 turbodiesel engines and the TP100, Al-450T, and PT6 turboprop engines, were tested here.
  • Test Hangar. This hangar is likely used for ground tests of completed aircraft, including engine tests, and for maintenance.
  • R&D Center. This building, officially named the Özdemir Bayraktar National Technology Center after the death of Mr. Bayraktar in 2021, has a footprint of approximately 8,662m2. When complete, it will likely contain a projected “People-oriented R&D and Incubation Center,” as well as offices and prototyping laboratories.
  • Baykar Park. This 22,000m2 recreational area includes athletic fields, a playground, and locker rooms. Flight tests of the DIHA VTOL UAV were performed on the soccer field on 20 Apr 2022, possibly because the test track was unavailable.
  • Probable Parking Garage. Analysis of imagery dated 03 Aug 2021 indicates that this structure has 6 stories on a footprint of 2,700m2, yielding a total area of approximately 16,200m2.

Undeveloped Property

  • Probable Temporary Storage Shelters (6). These structures are likely used to store construction materials and equipment.
  • Parking Area: This area has been cleared for use by construction vehicles. Twelve vehicles and numerous storage containers were visible here in imagery dated 20 May 2022.

Military Presence

  • While previous Baykar workshops were not located near military bases, this changed with the opening of the current production campus, which directly borders the Hadımköy Barracks to the north. These barracks house elements of the 52nd Tactical Armored Division, part of the 2nd Corps of the 1st Army of the Turkish Land Forces. A public Facebook page indicates the presence of the 1st Army Air Defense Battalion. At least three batteries of GDF Skyguard 35mm antiaircraft guns with their fire control radars are based here, and satellite imagery analysis indicates that they are regularly deployed in an area immediately beyond the northwestern perimeter of the Baykar campus. As the deployment of these guns was visible in satellite imagery dated 14 Sep 2012, long before Baykar's arrival, it is unlikely that the Turkish military intended for them to provide the factory with air defense.

  • Turkish military vehicles have been observed on the Baykar campus itself. Shots from the Baykar documentary AKINCI, filmed in 2019, show an Ejder Yalçın 4x4 Infantry Mobility Vehicle (IMV) parked alongside the main factory building near the test hangar. This IMV was in the “Armored Combat Vehicle” configuration and featured a Remote Weapons Station (RWS), although it is unclear whether it was armed at the time. Another 4x4 vehicle, which can be identified as a possible ILGAZ-II Internal Security Vehicle, was present in the northern parking lot and later, near the security building at the south entrance. These vehicles are not known to be operated by the 1st Army Air Defense Brigade. It is unclear whether they were on site due to a special need for security during the filming, or if they are a common presence. A possible armored vehicle was visible north of the test hangar in satellite imagery dated 04 Mar 2021.
  • It is unknown whether the entire land parcel obtained by Baykar in Esenyurt originally belonged to the military. However, at least some of it did. Analysis of satellite imagery reveals that two areas within the perimeter of the Hadımköy Barracks totaling approximately 55,700m2 were cleared between 2019 and 2020. The 12 large buildings on them, including several barracks and/or administrative structures, were demolished.

Future Activity

  • Three new buildings were visibly under construction at the original Baykar-owned property in Esenyurt in imagery dated 17 Jul 2022. All are likely to be completed in the next one to two years.
    • A building with a foundation footprint measuring approximately 14,600m2. This is the most recent building to begin construction, between imagery dated 14 Jan 2022 and 20 May 2022, and the only one to remain unidentified. It is likely a third factory building. Haluk Bayraktar cited plans to create additional production space in Esenyurt on 29 Jan 2021, following the construction of the main and second factory buildings.
    • The Özdemir Bayraktar National Technology Center.
    • A probable multistory parking garage.
  • Construction had not yet begun at the more recently acquired property. However, the appearance of construction hardstands, storage containers, and vehicles suggests that it is imminent.
  • It is likely that, with the completion of additional parking space, the test track will undergo more use in its intended purpose. Initially unobstructed, observations on 03 Aug 2021, 14 Jan 2022, and 25 Jun 2022 indicated that it was being used as a carpark, likely to add employee parking capacity before more permanent facilities were built. Other areas to the east of the main factory and around the periphery of the second factory may also be cleared, enabling them to be devoted solely to open storage of material components, waste materials, and finished products.
  • It is likely that the entrance to the Özdemir Bayraktar National Technology Center, which borders the Hadımköy-Hoşdere road from the east side of the land parcel, will become the new main entrance to the campus. Architectural renditions indicate that this entrance will branch into two access roads, one for staff and the other for visitors. Heavy delivery vehicles will likely continue to use the current southern entrance, as this provides better access to the factory buildings within the campus.
  • On 17 Jul 2022, all of the land on the original Esenyurt land parcel had either already been developed or was the site of active construction. Any new buildings will likely need to be built on the second property. Whether this area will host additional factory buildings, administrative buildings, or other structures is unclear.


Conclusion

Baykar has worked aggressively to expand its infrastructure over time, a process that began in 2004 but accelerated during the mid-2010s. It obtained its current production, training, and test facilities between 2014 and 2019. Between 2014 and 2022, the amount of production and administrative space likely expanded by over 50 times, while the amount of land owned by the company expanded from 0 to 40.4ha. Hangar space, a benchmark of aircraft handling capacity, expanded by nearly five times. Much of this growth was facilitated by the company’s proximity to Turkish military bases, which provided it with both land and buildings.

As the overall breadth of Baykar’s infrastructure increased, it was better able to introduce specialized capabilities that allowed it to provide a wider array of products and services to a growing number of clients. See Part II for a look at how key operations undertaken by this company have developed.

About The Authors

Owen LeGrone

MS Geospatial Intelligence, Johns Hopkins

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Methodologies Reviewed by NGA

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