MERSIN, Turkey — Taiwanese company GEOSAT Aerospace and Technology has inked an agreement with British firm Flyby Technology that paves the way for the purchase, technology transfer and production of 160 Turkish-made Jackal drones.
The memorandum of understanding, signed during the Taipei Aerospace Defense Technology Exhibition this month, involves the transfer of technology to the Asia-Pacific region and other geographic areas, according to a GEOSAT news release.
“Based on this, we will further develop and produce a new generation product, 160 JACKAL drones,” the company’s statement said. “UK-based Flyby Technology has agreed to provide payload solutions, testing and production planning for the new 160 JACKALs product and other Flyby authorized products.”
Murat Islioglu, general manager of Turkish business Fly BVLOS Technology, told Defense News the Jackal drone was originally made for civilian use.
“Following our agreement with our U.K. partner Flyby Technology, Jackal is equipped with Thales LMM [Lightweight Multirole Missiles] and has performed the first test-firing with great success. This was a clear demonstration of the multipurpose capability of Jackal,” Islioglu said.
Research and development for the Jackal began in early 2022, Islioglu added, and was designed and manufactured by Turkish engineers. In April 2022, the company signed an agreement with Flyby Technologies to export five drones for $1.25 million. The drone carried out tests with the LMM weapon in October 2022.
“Just a few months after the export agreement with the British company, we signed an agreement with Taiwan UAV Technology Center to exchange know-how and open an office in Taiwan. This agreement paved the way for future collaborations,” the manager said.
He added that Flyby Technologies has purchased the intellectual property rights for the Jackal in July 2023. “Flyby Technology has full rights to manufacture Jackal in the U.K. and export it. However, we made some reservations regarding the export of Jackal in the agreement,” he noted, a possible reference to customers the Turkish government may not want to receive the drone. “But we still provide technical assistance for our partner.”
The details of production, assembly location and timeline will be confirmed in a separate agreement, Islioglu said.
The Jackal is a remotely piloted air system able to land and take off vertically. It has a payload of maximum 15 kilograms (33 pounds) and has an operating range of 130 kilometers (81 miles). The drone can reach a cruise speed of about 108 kph (67 mph) and can reach a top speed of 160 kph (99 mph). It can operate as high as 4,000 meters, and the pilot can control it via satellite communications technology.
Power for the two pairs of rotors and electric fans currently comes from batteries, but production versions are to use a turbogenerator. The maximum takeoff weight is 105 kilograms, which is to increase to 155 kilograms or more with the new propulsion system.
The Jackal has the potential to conduct airstrikes, provide air support, attack helicopters in flight, target tanks, perform logistics missions, and deny the use of runways and roads. Because it is a plug-and-play system, users can integrate other equipment and technologies into the drone.
Tayfun Ozberk is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News.