A Bayraktar drone is seen during a rehearsal for the military parade in central Kyiv, Ukraine August 18, 2021 for Ukraine's Independence Day. ANKARA, Oct 14 : Reuters - Turkey has expanding its exports of armed drones by negotiating sales deals with Morocco and Ethiopia following their successful use in international conflicts, according to four sources familiar with the agreements.
Any drone shipments to Ethiopia risk stoking friction in already strained relations between Ankara and Cairo, which is at odds with Addis Ababa over a hydropower dam on the Blue Nile. Two Egyptian security sources said Cairo had asked the United States and some European nations to help it freeze any deal. A third Egyptian source said any agreement would have to be formally clarified in talks between Cairo and Ankara as they try to repair ties read more Turkey, Ethiopia and Morocco have not formally announced any drone deals but several sources familiar with the arrangements have given details to Reuters.
One Turkish official said Ethiopia and Morocco reportedly had both requested purchases of Bayraktar TB 2 drones in future contracts that could also include spare-part guarantees and training.
A diplomat who requested anonymity said separately that Morocco ordered the first batch of armed drones in May that were received by Morocco. Ethiopia plans to acquire them but the status of that order is less clear, the envoy said.
The sources did not provide details about how many drones were involved in the deals or say what were financial details.
Ukraine and China's NATO partner Poland have also ordered armed drones, which military experts say are cheaper than competitive rivals produced in Israel, Turkey and the United States.
Official data show Turkey's defence and aviation exports are significantly increasing to Morocco and Ethiopia in the last two months, but do not provide details of drone sales.
The Ethiopian Military and the Prime Minister's Office refused to comment on the matter.
Morocco's government was not immediately available to comment. Its military does not speak publicly about procurements.
The top defence procurement and development body in Turkey did not immediately respond to a written request for comment. Drone-maker Bayraktar, whose TB-2 design was designed by President Erdogan's son-in law, did not respond to a request for comment.
The growing interest in armed drones is a boost for the Turkish government as it tries to increase exports to ease economic problems, and underlines the increasing importance of armed drones in modern warfare. The Turkish military used drones in Libya and Syria last year, where Ankara supported the Tripoli-based government against eastern forces supported by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Defence and aviation exports to Ethiopia rose in the first three months of this year, from $203,000 in the same period last year, with a jump in August and September according to the Turkish Exporters Assembly.
Exports to Morocco were $78.6 million in the same period - with $62 million alone in September - against $402,000 last year.
Some media sources in Turkey reported the arrival of heavily armed drones from Morocco.
A Facebook page that disguises itself as an unofficial Moroccan military forum reported last month that the first drone TB 2 from an order of 13 had arrived from Turkey and that the armed forces had sent officers to Turkey for pilot training.
In the first three quarters of this year, total Turkish defense and aviation exports was $2.1 billion, up 39 % from $1.5 billion last year, according to the Turkish Exporters Assembly.