The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is negotiating the purchase of 120 Bayraktar TB2 combat drones from Turkey’s Baykar, The Middle East Eye reported on September 8.
Two people familiar with the negotiations told London-based news outlet that Baykar and the Emirati arms procurement agency Tawazun have been negotiating the deal since March.
“[Bayraktar TB2 drones] will come with a package of ammunition, command and control centers, and training. Together it could be a deal of up to $2bn,” one of the source said, some of the components of the drones might be produced in a Baykar plant in the UAE.
In the last few years, Bayraktar TB2 drones saw major success in conflicts in Libya, Syria and the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. However, they recently failed in Ukraine where they were used against the well-equipped Russian military.
The UAE allies in Libya faced Bayraktar TB2 combat drones while fighting against Turkey’s proxies back between 2019 and 2020.
Earlier this year, the UAE and Turkey restored relations marking the end of a decade of political rivalry that saw them competing over influence in several Middle Eastern countries. Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara last November. There, the two leaders signed a series of investment deals stipulating the UAE would invest $10 billion Turkey’s struggling economy.
While the UAE is wealthy enough to afford Turkey’s combat drones, the real issue may be the delivery timeline. Baykar CEO Haluk Bayraktar revealed in August that his company has a three-year-long backlog of orders and that its can produce about 20 Bayraktar TB2s in a month.
The UAE is likely planning to use Bayraktar TB2 drones outside of its borders, mainly to support its allies in Yemen and Libya.