Turkey has recently unveiled its latest unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), the ANKA-3, which is a jet-powered flying wing design with stealth features. The ANKA-3 is developed by the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and is expected to make its first flight in the second quarter of 2023.
The ANKA-3 is a successor of the ANKA-1 and 2, which are propeller-driven drones with more conventional designs. The ANKA-3 has a maximum take-off weight of seven tons and can carry weapons and fuel on both external hardpoints and internal bays. The drone is designed to perform deep pinpoint strikes as well as suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses missions. It can also conduct surveillance and electronic warfare tasks.
The drone features a tailless flying wing configuration with a serrated dorsal air intake and an auxiliary intake near the engine exhaust. The engine exhaust is round-shaped, which may reduce its radar signature. The drone also has conformal antenna arrays on its upper surface for communication and data link purposes.
The ANKA-3’s design resembles other stealthy UCAVs such as the US Northrop Grumman X-47B, Russia’s Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik-B, and China’s Hongdu GJ-11. However, developing a stealthy UCAV is not an easy task, as it requires advanced materials, technologies, and testing facilities. Therefore, it may take several years for TAI to complete the development and testing of the ANKA-3.
Turkey has become one of the world’s leading developers and manufacturers of reconnaissance and combat drones in recent years. Its Bayraktar TB2 drones have been widely used in various conflicts such as Syria, Libya, and Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey also exports its drones to several countries such as Qatar, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan. It is not clear yet if Turkey plans to export the ANKA-3 in the future.
The ANKA-3 represents Turkey’s ambition to develop a locally-produced advanced air combat ecosystem that includes both manned and unmanned platforms. Turkey is also developing its own stealthy fighter jet, the TF-X, which was seen in full prior to its official rollout on March 18. The TF-X and the ANKA-3 are expected to work together for certain mission applications.
The ANKA-3 shows that Turkey is not deterred by international sanctions or political pressures from pursuing its own defense industry goals. However, Turkey still faces many challenges and uncertainties in developing its stealthy UCAV program. Whether the ANKA-3 will be able to achieve operational success remains to be seen.