Turkey eyes UAV-like breakthrough in unmanned ground vehicles

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Turkey’s defense industry is rolling up its sleeves and focusing on unmanned ground platforms in a bid to achieve the same success it has had in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The industry, which exports drones to more than 20 countries, is conducting multipurpose studies to develop unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) in different classes.

As a result, FNSS, one of the leading manufacturers of armored ground vehicles, has signed a declaration of intent with the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) for the mass production of heavy-class unmanned ground vehicles.

FNSS Managing Director Nail Kurt told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the company has various plans focused on the development of UGVs, but the focus is on the ongoing project with SSB.

Explaining that the tasks and subsystems for the five vehicles have been defined as part of the contract, Kurt said that once the proposals are finalized, they will be submitted to the Presidency.

Kurt also noted that the unmanned ground vehicle they had previously developed had no autonomous functionality, as “given the era, it was not possible to equip autonomous functionality at the time.”

A certain level of autonomous functionality and weapons integration is required as requested by the SSB and the Land Forces Command, he explained.

Now that a study involving different configurations has been completed, the newly signed contract will serve as proof of concept for these studies, he said.

Kurt said the necessary changes will be implemented once the vehicles begin to be used in the field, as user interaction and feedback is very important in this process.

He pointed out that FNSS does not follow the mentality that “we’re done making it, now let’s use it” because the company is very open to developing its products based on user demands.

The country is at the beginning of the road in terms of UGVs, Kurt said, noting, “Turkey and the world are still at the very beginning in terms of UGVs and their autonomous features.”

Stating that they anticipate 2023 for delivery, Kurt said negotiations are ongoing that some simple one or two vehicle models could be delivered ahead of time while more complex vehicles can be delivered later.

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