Turkey converts Simsek training system into kamikaze drone
MERSIN, Turkey — Turkish Aerospace Industries has converted its Simsek training system into a kamikaze drone.
The High-Speed Target Drone System program began in 2009 to meet the Turkish military’s training needs against aerial targets, simulating enemy aircraft or missiles. It was created as a high-speed, turbojet-powered platform with a top speed of 400 knots (740 km/h) that could fly at an altitude of 15,000 feet.
Temel Kotil, the head of TAI, said in an April 25 interview with CNN Turk that the system can now be used as a suicide drone.
“It can carry 5 kilograms of explosives and it can travel around 100 to 200 kilometers when launched from a UAV. We produce 100 Simsek drones per year,” Kotil said.
TAI did not provide additional details about the change.
Until 2020, Simsek participated in military exercises with a catapult system, but last year TAI integrated Simsek with its battle-tested Anka drone.
Simsek’s kamikaze variant is not quite a wanderer ammunition like Harop, manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries. It was designed to simulate an airplane; his speed and agility are better than trailing ammo, but Harop is bigger, has a longer range, and can carry more explosives. However, Simsek is cheaper and easier to produce.
With the addition of optical sensors and data link capabilities, Simsek could be used for loitering. But these additions would negatively impact flight performance and increase costs.
Simsek’s integration with larger combat drones, like TAI’s Anka and Aksungur, provides improved range and speed. Launched from a drone, Simsek can be used as a decoy to confuse opposing air defenses. Adding explosives is a bonus, but 5 kilograms wouldn’t be enough to incapacitate an opposing armored unit.
The kamikaze version of the Simsek would be ready for operational use; however, TAI is still working on improving its payload and maneuvering capabilities.
Tayfun Ozberk is Turkey correspondent for Defense News.
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