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Turkish ‘loyal wingman' conducts taxi and take-off trials ahead of first flight

The Baykar Kizilelma ‘loyal wingman' prototype conducting taxi and take-off trials ahead of a first flight anticipated in 2023. (Baykar)

Turkey has conducted taxi and take-off trials of its domestically developed Baykar Kizilelma ‘loyal wingman' prototype, ahead of a first flight anticipated in 2023.

The manufacturer released footage of the trials of the unmanned aircraft, formerly referred to as the Bayraktar MIUS (Bayraktar Unmanned Combat Aircraft System), on 20 November, noting that the test had actually exceeded its planned parameters.

“Our goal was to run at slightly slower speeds in the first take-off roll test, but we exceeded that limit,” a company spokesperson said. “Thankfully, the Kizilelma successfully completed the first autonomous taxi and take-off roll test without any problems.”

Turkey first revealed its concept for the Bayraktar MIUS unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) in 2021. The Kizilelma, as it is now called, is a single-engine platform that features stealth characteristics in its airframe design (including an internal weapons bay), and is reported to be equipped with artificial intelligence (AI).

With an expected maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 6,000 kg (of which 1,500 kg will be payload), the Kizilelma is to be used for different combat roles such as close air support, suppression and destruction of enemy air defences, and air-to-air combat.

Apart from launching itself from prepared runways, it is envisioned that the Kizilelma will operate from the Turkish Navy's TCG Anadolu landing helicopter dock (LHD). “The most important aspect that will create a large force multiplier, different from other prototypes developed in this field in the world, is that it will be able to land and take off from short-runway ships of the TCG Anadolu

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