Turkish drone developer Baykar wrapped up ground trials of its Kizilelma ‘loyal wingman’ drone prototype this week.
The tests included runway trials and autonomous taxiing at an air base, Turkish news outlet Hurriyet reported.
The drone has been under development since 2013 and was first unveiled in 2021. Its first flight is expected next year.
— Selçuk Bayraktar (@Selcuk) November 20, 2022
Outfitted With Air-to-Air Missile
Kizilelma’s speed of 800 kilometers per hour (500 miles per hour) gives it an edge over most other reconnaissance and attack drones, while its ability to take off and land on short runways also enables shipborne operations.
The aircraft will include air-to-air missiles — unlike current combat drones that carry only air-to-ground munitions — along with intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and traditional strike capabilities.
The attack drone will fly alongside manned aircraft, performing a range of missions such as “strategic offensives, close air support, missile offensives, suppression of enemy air defenses and destruction of enemy air defenses,” according to Daily Sabah.
The aircraft will have a maximum takeoff weight of 6,000 kilograms (13,228 pounds) and a payload of 1.5 tons, according to the Baykar website.
With an endurance of five hours, the drone is expected to have a combat radius of 500 nautical miles (926 kilometers/575 miles) and a flight ceiling of 35,000 feet (10,668 meters).
Other features include an AESA radar, low radar cross-section, and beyond-line-of-sight communication.
The aircraft will initially be powered by a non-afterburning Ivchenko-Progress AI-25TLT turbofan engine. Later versions are expected to feature the afterburning Ivchenko-Progress AI-322F for supersonic speed, according to The War Zone.