The Bayraktar Kizilelma combat drone, marketed by Turkey’s Baykar as an “unmanned fighter jet,” has completed its first flight.
The news was shared via Twitter on December 14, 2022, by Selçuk Bayraktar, Baykar’s chairman of the board and chief technology officer.
The flight seemingly took place at the Akinci Flight Training and Test Center in Corlu, northwestern Turkey.
First announced in July 2021, the Kizilelma is being developed as a stealthy unmanned combat aircraft with characteristics similar to manner fighter jets.
According to Baykar, Kizilelma will also be supersonic and have good maneuvering characteristics.
With a maximum take-off weight of 6 tons, the drone is planned to have a 1,500-kilogram payload capacity. It will be capable of conducting air-to-ground and air-to-air missions.
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 TCG Anadolu was initially expected to carry US-made F-35B fighters before Turkey’s exclusion from the Joint Strike Fighter program for acquiring Russian S-400 missile systems.
The Kizilelma is similar to several designs currently being developed by other manufacturers, such as the US-made Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie or Russia’s Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik.
The concept is central to the upcoming sixth generation of fighter jets. In addition to advanced stealth and networking characteristics, programs such as the American NGAD or the European FCAS and Tempest envision a manned jet as just one component of a vast system that includes multiple high-performance unmanned aircraft.