(Click image to download brief.)
Synopsis: Turkey has emerged as a drone superpower on the world stage. In just the past few
years, Turkey has become one of a select group of countries in the world that can produce, use and export armed drones extensively, trailing only the United States, Israel, and China. In addition, it has innovated new ways to use its cost-effective Bayraktar TB-2 to achieve overmatch by emphasizing quantity over quality across an array of battlefields. Turkey’s innovative use of drone squadrons as a surrogate for an air force in a conventional battle has provided a strategy for middle-sized powers to emulate, resulting in several such powers—including Ukraine, Poland, Azerbaijan—buying these cost-effective systems from Turkey with a view to do so. Other mid-size countries with limited defense budgets are likely to replicate this approach, changing the nature of local conflicts and even the calculations of larger observing nations. This paper examines Turkey’s innovative use of the Bayraktar TB-2 drone, as a case study of how a mid-size power can drive geopolitical outcomes around the globe through drones.