The Greek skies will soon be dominated by the newly launched multipurpose Archytas drone. As geopolitical frictions with Turkey have reached a critical juncture in the Aegean Sea, Greek defence and security officials welcomed the development of the Archytas prototype with great enthusiasm in the face of the threat posed by the Bayraktar TB2 operating in Ukraine’s war. This is nothing new, as Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan spares no instant in criticising Greece despite both countries being NATO members. But the past few years have been marked by a surge in territorial clashes and acts of intimidation, as territorial waters have been continuously contested by both sides since the 1970s. Such reasons might explain Greece’s decision to equip itself with a new generation of high-performance combat UAVs.
NATO member Turkey and its Black Sea ally Ukraine have agreed to coproduce Turkish-made military drones at a production site in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Defence Minister Olesii Reznikov has recently made public the bilateral agreement between Turkey and Ukraine in the military defence industry.
Since its establishment in December 2017 by the Council of the European Union under the Council Decision 2017/2315, the EU Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), which consists of all EU Member States (MS) minus Denmark and Malta, has supervised the development of 47 projects (PESCO Secretariat, 2021). Among these projects is the Military Mobility (MM) project, founded in 2018 and characterized by the nearly full participation of PESCO Members, apart from Ireland. Coordinated by the Netherlands, the MM project aims to simplify and standardise cross-border military transport procedures, side-stepping long bureaucratic procedures for the movement of military personnel and equipment through or over the EU MS (PESCO Secretariat, 2021), thereby enhancing the availability, interoperability, flexibility, and deploy-ability of the forces of the MS, as required by Article 2(c) of Protocol 10 of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU). This purpose is coherent with the binding Commitment 12, undertaken by PESCO participating states, which requires states to simplify and standardise “cross border military transport in Europe for enabling rapid deployment of military materiel and personnel” (PESCO Secretariat, 2021; Latici, 2019, 2).
The Turkish Bayraktar TB2 is becoming a bestseller on the unmanned combat aerial vehicles’ market, increasing Turkey’s defence industry’s already strong confidence. At the beginning of this month, an €8 million contract between Albania and the Turkish consortium Kale-Baykar was made public (Malyasov, 2021), following agreements signed by the company with Poland, Qatar, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Morocco (Brownsword, 2021). Turkey is slowly catching up to the United States and Israel as the world’s leading seller of surveillance drones by producing and exporting its own indigenous systems. At the moment, a TB2 variant and the Akinci drone are being developed in a joint effort by Turkey and Ukraine, and a MALE-drone is being co-produced with two Saudi manufacturers (Brownsword, 2021). The Turkish combat drone has revealed to be a first choice for countries with smaller budgets and limited airpower capabilities like Azerbaijan and Albania. The more affordable and very efficient Bayraktar TB2 allows these countries to modernise their armies.