The contract, first announced by Poland’s Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak over the weekend, was officially confirmed during President Andrzej Duda’s visit to Turkey on Monday.
“We are one of the best three, four countries in the world” when it comes to UAVs, Erdogan said during a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart in Ankara.
“We’re really happy to share this experience, capability and opportunities with our NATO ally,” he said, adding that the sale of two dozen Bayraktar TB2 drones to Warsaw will boost the Turkish defense industry.
Duda called Turkey his country’s “strongest ally” in the region, and expressed confidence that the two states can fend off any “inside or outside” threats while working together as part of NATO.
TB2 drones have been used by Turkey in its military operations in Syria and Libya, as well as during last year’s conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, in which Ankara supported the Azeris. The hardware has also been sold to Ukraine, Qatar and Azerbaijan.
The Bayraktar TB2 drone is equipped with radar and surveillance systems, while its armaments include four laser-guided “smart munitions”, according to the manufacturer. With an operational altitude of around 5,500 meters, the UAV can allegedly hit speeds of up to 220 kph and run for over a day without refueling.
During the press conference with Duda, Erdogan also announced that Turkish F-16 jets will “soon” be deployed to Poland as NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission – a move which could further complicate relations between Ankara and Moscow as NATO planes patrol the skies above Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania as a deterrence against what it has framed as the ‘Russian threat’.
Moscow has repeatedly criticized the US-led military bloc’s presence near its borders, saying that it endangered European security and only increased the possibility of a conflict on the continent.