Bayraktar drones have arrived in Albania, announces defense minister

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The Albanian Minister of Defense, Niko Peleshi, said Bayraktar drones have now arrived in Albania and have been placed in the Kuçova air base, due to open on March 4 as a NATO tactical base.

In a Facebook update, Peleshi said that, “For the past two days, the assembly [of drones] has begun, and simultaneously, the installation of the supporting infrastructure for their operation and control is underway.”

“This development not only enhances Albania’s defense capabilities but also serves as evidence of the country’s commitment to ensuring national security and meeting the highest standards of defense. This achievement is a symbol of our dedication to modernization and innovation in our Armed Forces,” Peleshi concluded.

In December 2022, Albania signed an agreement to purchase a fleet of unmanned military aircraft from the Turkish company Bayraktar.

At that time, Minister Peleshi stated that this assistance from the Turkish Government was of great importance for national security as well as that of the NATO alliance.

During the signing ceremony of the agreement between the Albanian Ministry of Defense and the Turkish company Bayraktar, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama stated that this agreement was reached thanks to the strategic partnership with Turkey.

At that time, Rama made it clear that the drones would be used for military, police, and civilian missions.

“The first three drones that will come will be fully armed and ready for any eventuality, and I hope it never happens, but we do not live in safe times. When our national security is threatened, we will be ready for war,” said Rama in 2022.

Both Rama and Peleshi stated that the drones would also help monitor traffic, as well as territory regarding cannabis cultivation, fires, illegal constructions, and tracking wanted individuals.

Rama announced that the agreement was not only for purchasing the drones but also included their maintenance, training for more than 30 individuals, who would be selected with the help of Bayraktar company to be prepared to take over the control center function, which would be the highest technology object at the Kuçova air base.

In September 2022, Rama had stated that Albania would receive six armed Bayraktar drones from Turkey. However, in December 2022, he announced that initially three drones would come, but no other figure was declared for the future.

It is not known how much a drone has cost Albania, but in September 2022 Rama had spoken of a “beneficial price”, without giving a specific figure.

Other countries have also shown interest in Turkish Bayraktar drones, as this tool has shown success in several battlefields, including Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

The TB2 drone was developed in Turkey by Selcuk Bayraktar, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been dubbed as “the American Elon Musk”, for the unique military aircraft he has developed and for a presence on social networks, where he is often fierce towards his critics.

Bayraktar, who is the chief technology officer at the defense company Bayraktar, married the daughter of the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in 2016, in a ceremony where Prime Minister Edi Rama was a witness.

Known for their efficiency and advanced technology, the Bayraktar TB2 drone can stay in the sky for up to 27 hours, made possible by a simple motor with propellers, and it can fly up to 150 kilometers from its base. This drone can also be equipped with four missiles of the “smart micro munitions” type, which are quite accurate in destroying armored vehicles from several kilometers away.

The TB2 drones have been used by Turkey in what it calls “counter-terrorism” operations against Kurdish militants. However, their devastating impact was seen during the 2020 conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh when TB2 drones were used by Azerbaijan against Armenian ethnic forces.

However, this drone is seen as revolutionary due to its relatively low cost and easy availability. Large military drones produced by the United States, such as the MQ-9 Reaper, cost tens of millions of dollars, and even states that can afford such technology are unlikely to purchase these drones.

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