The fact that Ukraine and Turkey are partners in the defense industry is no secret to anyone, as well as the fact that this partnership is strengthening every year.
The main news, of course, was the recent use of reconnaissance and shock Bayraktar tb2... Then, let us remind, the 122-mm howitzer D-30 was destroyed by the blow of the UAV.
An even more revealing point (to which, however, much less media drew attention) was the September laying of the first MILGEM corvette for the Ukrainian Navy by Turkey, which can generally be considered a starting point in stories new Ukrainian fleetwhatever it may be in the end.
But back to the aviation.
For Baykar, the creator of that very Bayraktar, it was not even TB2, which is, in fact, a drone of little interest by modern standards, a pass to the world of large aviation. Back in 2019, Bayraktar Akıncı, a high-altitude long-range attack unmanned aerial vehicle with six weapons suspension points and capable of carrying a payload of 1 kilograms (versus 350 kilograms for Bayraktar TB50), made its maiden flight. Here, by the way, Ukraine was also involved: Akıncı is equipped with two AI-2 engines from the state company Ivchenko Progress.
Muharip İnsansız Uçak Sistemi
But the real revolution is just ahead, and it is associated with the new unmanned fighter MIUS, which until recently was perceived as a bold concept.
However, last week the blog of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies сообщил interesting news. During the Saha Expo 2021 aerospace exhibition, Baykar signed an agreement with the Ukrainian company Ivchenko-Progress for the purchase of AI-322F and AI-25TLT bypass turbojet engines for use on the promising Turkish jet combat unmanned aerial vehicle MIUS or Muharip İnsansız Uçak Sistemi.
“We have signed a contract with the leading Ukrainian company Ivchenko-Progress for the supply of AI-322F turbojet engines and the integration of AI-25TLT turbojet engines for our project for the production of percussion UAVs”,
- Gazeta.ru cites the text of Baykar's statement.
An explanation needs to be made here.
The UAV itself is single-engine, but there will be two types of engine. The fact is that they want to create the device in a subsonic version - MIUS-A and a supersonic version - MIUS-B. AI-25TLT is intended for the first: it will allow, according to experts, to reach speeds of up to 800 kilometers per hour. AI-322F will be installed on MIUS-B, thanks to which the device will be able to accelerate to supersonic speed.
What is AI-322F and AI-25TLT?
In a broad sense, they became the development of AI-222, the development of which is the Zaporozhye MKB Progress named after A. G. Ivchenko started in 1999 on the basis of the AI-22 engine. AI-322F was created for the L-15 combat trainer.
The UAV MIUS itself has a rather long history: it began to be created in 2013, and the potential appearance of the model was changed in the process of research and development work. The glider has a tailless design, its appearance testifies to the use of stealth technology. This is supported by the fact that at least some of the weapons will be placed inside the fuselage.
The first flight of the prototype is scheduled for 2023.
The maximum take-off weight of the complex is estimated at more than 5 kilograms with a payload of 000 kilograms. Among the weapons will be both air-to-surface missiles and air-to-air missiles, which is why, in fact, the device is called an unmanned fighter.
Is this assessment fair?
At least until the presentation of the prototype, it is rather difficult to judge this. Signal delays inherent in UAVs are not critical when it comes to hitting stationary ground targets. However, they can play a cruel joke in modern air combat, which, as it is customary to assess these days, can be very dynamic and extremely short-lived.
However, it must be assumed that Baykar is seen as autonomous. In a video the company showed this year, it is reported that the design of MIUS has been optimized to perform the "aggressive maneuvers" required for aerial combat. The UAV will use artificial intelligence, which will enable it to work both as part of a swarm and within the framework of the concept of an unmanned follower, which is popular today. According to this, several drones will be able to work together with manned fighters, supporting them in battle.
AI instead of a pilot
In general, the use of artificial intelligence for air combat is being discussed more and more often.
Last year, Red 6 and EpiSci conducted an experiment involving a real-life pilot. During the tests, the pilot flew a Berkut 560 from Freeflight Composites using the Airborne Tactical Augmented Reality System.
In the same year, it was reported that the artificial intelligence had defeated the experienced American pilot in five experimental close-up dogfights.
Obviously, there are no obstacles to using such technologies in real air battles in the future. The question lies more in the plane of moral and ethical considerations.
Roughly speaking, should the computer be given the right to decide who lives and who dies?
As daunting as the prospect of a "machine uprising" is, such technologies are increasingly being used in the real world. Not so long ago, Turkish Kargu-2 UAVs packed with explosives attacked anti-government rebels in Libya completely autonomously. And in September, The New York Times wrote that a specialist in Iran's nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed by the Israelis in November 2020 with machine gun shots: the operation was allegedly carried out by artificial intelligence.
Against the background of all this, AI-controlled air combat no longer seems like something fantastic. Moreover, this approach will make it possible to get rid of the limitations of the human body when creating an aircraft. In addition, the loss of a drone by default is less sensitive than the loss of a manned aircraft. If only because it does not require the organization of a search and rescue mission.
So can MIUS be considered real weapons? The one that will replace the fighter?
The answer to the first question is obviously yes. Baykar has extensive experience in the development of UAVs, which, moreover, have already proven their combat effectiveness.
From a purely technical point of view, Muharip İnsansız Uçak Sistemi also cannot be called something incredible. Before us is something very similar to the American-Australian Loyal Wingman, which is already being actively tested and which in the future will almost certainly take its place in the structure of the Australian Air Force, for which it is being created.
This is the big difference between MIUS and, say, the Ukrainian concept of the ACE ONE UAV, which will almost certainly remain just a picture. Nevertheless, Ukraine has incomparably less experience in this matter.
On the other hand, if we look at the specs, we see that MIUS is not a replacement for fighter-bombers. Its characteristics, such as combat load, are incomparably more modest, but the price can be comparable or even higher than that of a not very modern fourth generation fighter. And even more so it will be higher than that of Akıncı or TB2.