Erdoğan’s Son-in-Law and the Faulty Drone Systems of the Turkish Military

Classified documents obtained by Nordic Monitor reveal systematic failures in drones manufactured by Baykar, a Turkish company co-owned by the son-in-law of President Erdoğan, who reportedly ordered to keep the problems out of the public eye

The Turkish Armed Forces discovered systematic failures and troubles with drones built by Baykar, whose owners include President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law, according to classified documents obtained by Nordic Monitor.

In a priority message secretly sent to the General Staff on July 15, 2016, the 2nd Army command said the Bayraktar drone systems produced by Baykar had often been hit with problems, hampering counterterrorism operations in the country’s southeast. The message stated that ground data terminals which are part of the Bayraktar system often malfunction and that the problem resumes shortly after they return to service after repair.

The secret report detailed several operations that were affected by the failure of Bayraktar drones. In one case recorded on June 26, 2016, the military was conducting operations in Hakkari province’s Yüksekova district, and the ground data terminals failed to communicate with the drones. A team of technicians from Savronik, a Turkish defense contractor, and the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) were brought to Yüksekova to repair the terminal. They failed to fix it and instead took the antenna system back to the service center in Eskişehir province. The military was later told that the antenna interface board was faulty and needed replacement, which would take 45 days.

The intelligence document also reported that the failure of the ground data terminal in Yüksekova put another data terminal located in the nearby Gürvil area in Şırnak province out of commission. The report stressed that desired results from the Bayraktar drone systems could not be obtained because of constant malfunctions and concluded that they had negatively impacted military surveillance and offensive capabilities.

The classified report was drafted by Gökhan Dülgergil, a captain in intelligence, and signed by Malatya Garrison Commander Maj. Gen. Avni Angun. The report was never made public, and the problems were swept under the rug by order of Turkish President Erdoğan.