A SIGNALS intelligence or communications intelligence (SINGINT or COMINT) version of the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) Anka medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle has been revealed for the first time by Turkey’s defence procurement agency, the Savunma Sanayii Mustesarligi (SSM – Undersecretariat for Defence Industries). The extensively-modified UAV, believed to be designated the Anka-I, was revealed when two in-flight photographs of it were uploaded to social media sites by the SSM on March 24. This may have been unintentional, as they were then quickly removed again, but inevitably numerous users had by then already downloaded and saved the images.
Believed to be based on the Anka-B, which has increased performance and longer endurance that the original Anka-A, the new variant has an antenna farm of 14 different aerials around the fuselage. These are primarily on the underside, most likely for the COMINT role. Four sensor panels on a large cheek fairing on the starboard side of the forward fuselage are probably for electronic support measures and electronic intelligence systems. It is assumed there is a similar fairing on the port fuselage side, but this is unconfirmed, as both images only show the starboard side. A sensor turret is mounted under the nose and there is a sizeable pod on a pylon under the rear fuselage for another sensor payload.
The images, taken on an unknown date, show the UAV in flight, fitted with an air date probe on the nose, indicating that they were presumably taken during initial flight-testing, although it is unknown how long it has been flying. One shot shows it flying over TAI’s Akinci-Murted facility. According to Turkish media sources, it will be operated by the country’s Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı, (MIT – National Intelligence Organisation), which is reported to have ordered six. Turkish sources also suggest it may have already been used operationally in the Afrin District of Syria, to support Turkey’s ongoing Operation Olive Branch, which began on January 20.