Azerbaijan inaugurated a training facility and maintenance hangar for its latest Akinci drone, marking an advancement in the country’s defence infrastructure and capabilities.

In a strategic move to enhance its military effectiveness, Azerbaijan unveiled a training facility and hangar dedicated to its newly acquired Akinci drone programme. The ceremonial event on February 9th showcased Azerbaijan’s commitment to leveraging technology to bolster its defence capabilities.

Amid escalating regional tensions and a renewed focus on defence modernisation, Azerbaijan adopts a multifaceted strategy blending domestic production capabilities and strategic alliances to fortify its military strength. With a projected defence budget of $4bn by 2028, as outlined in GlobalData’s report, the nation seeks to reduce reliance on imports and assert greater autonomy in defence matters, particularly in light of ongoing territorial disputes. 

The ceremony, attended by high-ranking officials including Azeri president Ilham Aliyev and Selcuk Bayraktar, the chief technology officer of Baykar, the manufacturer of Akinci drones, highlighted the culmination of Azerbaijan’s discreet acquisition of the Turkish-made combat system.

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The inaugurated training facility will cater to UAV operators, providing specialised training to operate the Akinci drones effectively. Concurrently, the maintenance hangar will serve as a hub for ensuring the upkeep and operational readiness of the drones, underlining Azerbaijan’s commitment to maintaining a robust defence infrastructure.

The procurement of the Akinci drone represents a stride in Azerbaijan’s military modernisation efforts. With its capabilities compared to its predecessors, including the TB2 combat drones previously employed in conflicts, the Akinci has a maximum takeoff weight of 6,000kg and a payload capacity of ten times that of the TB2. Furthermore, its ability to operate at altitudes of 30,000-40,000 ft, coupled with a diverse arsenal of ammunition and missiles.

The recent conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region shows Azerbaijan’s determination to maintain a decisive edge, prompting investments in indigenous defence production facilities and strategic partnerships with countries like Turkey. 

The inauguration of the Akinci drone facilities follows Azerbaijan’s strategic partnerships and collaborations in the defence sector. The memorandum of understanding signed between Baykar and Azerbaijan in April 2023 paved the way for the domestic construction of Baykar drones, signalling a broader initiative to strengthen indigenous defence capabilities.

As Azerbaijan continues to invest in technology and infrastructure, the unveiling of the Akinci drone programme heralds a new era of defence preparedness, solidifying the country’s position as a regional player in strategic deterrence.