Prototype of Turkey’s first armed drone crashes during test flight. Again.

Oct 01 2012 - 1 Comment

Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News reported the news that the prototype of the ANKA unmmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) crashed during a test flight on Sept. 27.

The Turkish drone was flying at 10,000 feet, when it reportedly lost contact with its ground control station and crashed 4 kilometers from Eskisehir.

Based on its datasheet, the ANKA (“Phoenix”) is rather impressive: it’s a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) aircraft, capable of carrying more than 200 kg of payload, for about 24 hours, at an altitude of up to 30,000 feet. But is seems to suffer some problems.

Two versions of such drone are being developed: the surveillance one, Anka-A (TIHA-A), and the UCAV (unmanned combat aerial vehicle), dubbed Anka +A (TIHA-B).

The “Phoenix” has a shape which reminds that of the Israeli Hermes 450, with a Predator B/Reaper tail-type. It will be used to spy on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as done by the U.S. Predators operating from Incirlik airbase, one of those crashed/was shot down few days ago.

Produced by the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the first of 5 test aircraf rolled out the hangar on Jul. 16, 2010, and made its first flight on Dec. 30 of the same year.  Unfortunately, during its first flight, lasting only 14 minutes, it crash landed (although there are different versions of this episode, including one according to which, the UAV safely landed…).

According to an article published on Israel National News website which quotes Defense News, the second drone managed to fly for 90 minutes before crashing, whereas the third prototype flew for about 120 minutes before crashing into the ground. However, since there are not many details about the alleged mishaps, and considered that the indigenous drone was developed following a a diplomatic crisis with Israel (after an Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla and the killing of nine Turkish activists), the safety records of the Anka as reported by the Israeli media should be taken with grain of salt unless officially confirmed pr new information surfaces.

The one that was lost on its final acceptance flight on Sept. 27 should have been the first prototype (fixed and returned to flight) that completed some 98 sorties prior to the (last) accident.

According to a statement released by the TAI, the cause of the crash was a technical failure and, while research to identify the technical failure is ongoing,  the final test flights will continue with other UAVs.

Image credit: Wiki