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Turkey flexes military muscles with drone display at Istanbul’s Teknofest

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Teknofest, which Turkey claims to be the biggest tech festival in the world, takes place in Istanbul on September 21-26. And with it, an opportunity for Turkey’s military to display its new jewel: drones. FRANCE 24’s Istanbul correspondents Shona Bhattacharyya and Ludovic de Foucaud report.

It was a perfect day for a field trip, and the air show set young hearts ablaze with Turkish national pride, including children who displayed their nationalism.

With both transportation and entry free of charge, it would be no wonder if this years’ edition reached the two million Teknofest attendees of 2019. Despite organisers claims that the festival showcases civilian technology above all, the fighter jets get the most attention, especially the drones developed by the Bayraktar brothers.

After successful campaigns in Libya and Azerbaijan, the TB2 drone has become the flag-bearer for the Turkish defence industry.  The newest model, the Akinci drone, boasts a double engine, has a 20-metre wingspan, and weighs in at six tonnes on liftoff.

Almost as popular as the drone is the pair who made it: Seljuk Bayraktar, President Erdogan’s son-in-law, and his brother Haluk. Their company took the Akinci drone from prototype to finished product in just two years, a feat.

“Turkey made a decision 20 years ago that Turkey will support its own companies,” says Haluk Bayraktar, Baykar’s CEO. “So, these drones will be native, so Turkey supported its own companies and start-ups. We were a start-up 20 years ago, seven people.”

Turkey is betting smaller, local actors will allow greater versatility and lead its military to complete self-sufficiency, creating a deadly fleet that can be bought for a price… and making its defence industry a force to be reckoned with.

Click on the video player above to watch the full report.

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The Groucho

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