On Dec 14, 2022, Turkish drone manufacturer Baykar Tech conducted the first flight test of its next-generation unmanned fighter jet, the Bayraktar Kizilelma.
Selcuk Bayraktar, the technology chief at Baykar, announced the first flight with a video on Twitter. The test occurred at Corlu Airport, approximately 80-85 kilometers (50 miles) west of Istanbul. The drone flew for 18 minutes and landed at the same airport.
“Today marks the maiden flight of Bayraktar #KIZILELMA, our unmanned fighter jet,” Bayraktar, the technology executive, said in the presentation video he released. “Our country has stepped into the domain of unmanned fighter aircraft, which is ushering the future of air warfare.”
The first flight was initially planned for 2023. Baykar unveiled the unmanned fighter jet project (initially called MIUS) in the summer of 2021, and the Kizilelma was spotted on the assembly line in March 2022.
Powered by a single Ukrainian-designed Ivchenko-Progress turbofan engine, the Kizilelma is planned to have a 1,500-kilogram payload capacity. It will be capable of conducting air-to-ground and air-to-air missions.
According to the company, it will have a maximum takeoff weight of 6 tons, including 1.5 tons of ordnance, and will fly at a height of 35,000-40,000 feet. The initial prototype will fly at speeds ranging from 0.6 to 0.9 mph.
The drone is expected to be carrier-capable and has thus been designed to land and take off on short runways. It should eventually operate from the TCG Anadolu amphibious assault ship, which is currently conducting cruise tests.
The new stealthy drone is an unmanned aircraft featuring a low-RCS supersonic airframe equipped with an AESA radar. The aircraft is powered by a turbofan engine fed by two air inlets; yaw control is achieved with two vertical stabilizers.
The aircraft has coupled-canard controls for increased maneuverability or better controlling the main wing airflow. Internal compartments will allow the aircraft to operate in contested environments while sustaining low observability.
Kizilelma will be able to stay in the air for up to 4 to 5 hours and will be controlled by satellite via the SATCOM antenna, Baykar said. It’s powered by AI-322F turbofan engines from Ukraine’s Ivchenko-Progress company.
The jet will be outfitted with an AESA radar built by Aselsan and will be capable of launching indigenous Bozdogan and Gokdogan air-to-air missiles. For surface warfare, the future unmanned plane will be armed with SOM-J cruise missiles with a range of more than 250 km and Roketsan-made MAM family guided bombs for small attack missions.
According to the company, Kizilelma will be able to take off and land on aircraft carriers with short runways and conduct missions with internally carried munitions.