Following Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the United Kingdom’s military is expected to embark on a new armed drone programme. UK defence officials believe that Azerbaijan had used Turkish drones in the six-week war and their controversial use of technology was crucial in defeating the Armenians. Now, according to The Guardian, the UK defence officials said that Britain wanted to procure its own cheaper drones as part of the five-year defence review due to be unveiled early in 2021, despite warnings about the risks of the proliferation of deadly unmanned aircraft.
Previously, the UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had said that the Turkish TB2 drones were an example of how unmanned aircraft were now “leading the way”. He said that the drones have been responsible for the destruction of hundreds of armoured vehicles and even air defence systems. However, it is also worth noting that there is reported video evidence that suggests the drones had also killed many people in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The TB2 drones, which are manufactured by Baykar Makina, cost around $1million to $2million. They are far less than the near $20 million per drone paid by the British military for a fleet of 16 high-end, next-generation Protector drones manufactured by US specialist General Atomics. The unmanned aircraft have a much shorter operating range of up to 150 km, however, they are able to loiter in the air for up to 24 hours.