Tunisia’s order for three ANKA-S drone has hit a brick wall as the country cannot pay for the UAVs despite significant financial backing from Turkey.
Last year, the Tunisian Ministry of Defense announced a tender for the supply of Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV which was subsequently won by the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI).
Early this year, in January, Tunisia signed the contract for the delivery of ANKA-S during a surprise visit by Turkish President Recep Erdogan to Tunisia.
The contract involved the backing of Turkish Eximbank which will pay for up-to 85% of the cost of the drone system, this arrangement which is advantageous to Tunisia however fell through because the country couldn’t come up with its own part of the payment.
If the contract was sustained, TAI will supply three ANKA-S systems, with each system comprising of two UAVs and one control center. All of which costs a total of $80 million dollars.
Also, the drone deal will see a technology transfer between TAI and Tunisia for the local assembly of the ANKA-S with the possibility of exporting it to other African countries.
At the initial phase of the tender, TAI competed with BAYKAR, another Turkish company that deals with drone technology. Baykar presented its Bayraktar TB2 UAV which has enjoyed some success on the Libyan battlefront but has also suffered significant losses.
The Anka-S entered service in 2017. It has a payload of 200 kg and can carry eight Cirit 70 mm rockets or four MAM-L guided missiles. It can be fitted with a variety of payloads including Aselsan SARPER radar, Star Safire 380-HDL forward-looking infrared and satellite communications link.
The ANKA-S edurance is 24 hours, with a maximum altitude of 9 000 metres. Powered by a diesel engine driving a three blade propeller, it provides a cruising speed of around 200 km/h.
For now, Tunisia would have to make do with its eight AeroVironment Inc. Unmanned Aircraft Systems acquired from the US.
The North African country also host a US drone operations base. The United States Military has been using a Tunisian air base to conduct surveillance drone operations inside Libya.