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Azerbaijan has opened a training facility and hangar for Akinci unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), manufacturer Baykar reported on 13 February, confirming Azerbaijan’s purchase of the Turkish-made UAV.

A ceremony on 9 February 2024 at the new facilities, which included the flight of an Akinci, was attended by Baykar chief technology officer Selcuk Bayraktar, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, his son Heydar Aliyev, as well as other high-ranking Azeri officers.

Azerbaijan purchased its Akinci UAVs on the quiet, with Baykar CEO Haluk Bayraktar only saying in March 2022 that three nations were interested in buying the type.

Baykar has subsequently revealed that the first group of Azeri Akinci pilots completed their training in October 2022 and that in April 2023 Baykar and Azerbaijan signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of Baykar UAVs in the country. Azerbaijan has previously deployed Baykar Bayraktar TB2 armed UAVs to significant effect in its conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The Akinci is a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAV with a maximum take-off weight of 6,000 kg, compared to the TB2’s 700 kg. Its 1,500-kg payload is 10 times that of the TB2.

The Akinci can also fly higher than the TB2, at up to around 40,000 ft (12,192 m).

The Akinci can carry a wide range of munitions, including MAM-L and MAM-C smart micro munitions, Cirit laser-guided 70 mm rockets, L-UMTAS laser-guided long-range anti-tank missiles, laser-guided Bozok lightweight missiles, SOM-A air-launched cruise missiles and Mark 81/82/83 series bombs.

From left: Baykar chief technology officer Selcuk Bayraktar, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and his son Heydar Aliyev stand in front of Azeri Akinci UAVs inside their new hangar facilities on 9 February 2024. (Photo: Azeri government)