Saudi Arabia signs historical deal with Türkiye to acquire Akinci UCAVs

According to a tweet published by Haluk Bayraktar on July 18, 2023, Türkiye and Saudi Arabia have signed an export and cooperation agreement for the Bayraktar AKINCI Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV), as announced by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defense.

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Saudi Arabia signs historical deal with Türkiye to acquire Akinci UCAVs Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle Akinci.  (Picture source: Baykar)

Presently, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is undertaking a pivotal state visit to Saudi Arabia, engaging in discussions with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS).

This momentous meeting is an affirmation of the intensifying political and economic bonds between the two nations, heralding a phase of enhanced collaboration and reciprocal comprehension.


With a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of over 5.5 tons, Akıncı carries a payload of more than 1350 kg. It's powered by two turboprop engines with thrust capacities of either 450 or 750 horsepower. Akıncı's advanced features include electronic support and countermeasure systems, dual satellite communication systems, air-to-air radar, collision avoidance radar, and a sophisticated synthetic aperture radar.

The development phase of Akıncı was concluded by June 2019 and it completed its engine ground run in August 2019 with a Ukrainian turboprop engine Ivchenko-Progress AI-450C. The aircraft then underwent various technical tests before its first successful flight on December 6, 2019, at the Turkish Army's Çorlu Airfield Command.

The Akıncı's payload capacity includes 400 kg internal and 950 kg external, combining for a maximum combat load of 1,350 kg. It's powered by two turboprop engines, either 450 hp or 750 hp, and a wide wingspan of 20 meters allowing a maximum takeoff weight of 5.5 tons. The Akıncı is also the first UAV capable of launching an air-launched cruise missile.

The UCAV was publicly unveiled during the Teknofest Aviation, Space and Technology Festival in September 2019. It conducted its first firing tests successfully on April 22, 2021, where it was equipped with three variants of the indigenously developed smart ammunitions, MAM-L, MAM-C, and MAM-T. This was also the first public showcasing of Roketsan's newest smart ammunition MAM-T.

In terms of operational history, Akıncı has been first deployed in the Pençe-Kilit Operations run by the Turkish military to dismantle PKK positions in Northern Iraq.

The Akıncı UCAV has impressive technical specifications, including a maximum speed of 361 km/h, a cruising speed of 280 km/h, and an exceptional range of 7,500 km. Its service ceiling is 13,716 m and it has an operational altitude of 9,100 m.

The armament of the Bayraktar Akıncı is extensive, featuring eight hardpoints that can carry various rockets, air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, and a variety of bombs. It is also equipped with national AESA radar, Aselsan Common Aperture Targeting System, Electronic Warfare Pod, and a National SIGINT module.