Turkish Aerospace Industries has begun flight testing of the Block B variant of its Anka medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle.
A $300 million order for ten of the type in 2013 saw the Turkish air force become the first customer for the UAV. These will be delivered in the Block B production configuration, the first of which carried out its maiden flight - lasting approximately three hours - on 30 January.
The first Block A variant has been undergoing a flight testing campaign since 2013, and first delivery of a production aircraft to the Turkish air force is expected in 2016. Three Anka demonstrators had accumulated some 200h of flight testing as of July, TAI said at the time.
The Block B variant builds on the capability of the Block A, carrying an Aselsan synthetic aperture radar/ground moving-target indicator payload in addition to the UAV’s electro-optical/infrared sensor. "Basic shakedown" and auto-landing capabilities were tested during the maiden flight test of the Block B Anka, a TAI representative told Flightglobal.
The UAV will have endurance of 24h, TAI says, with a flight ceiling of 30,000ft and a range of 108nm (200km).
Speculation continues to surround the first potential export customer for Anka, as TAI continues to pitch the UAV as an alternative to the successful General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper and Israel Aerospace Industries Heron UAVs.
Throughout the development, there have been rumours that Egypt was also looking to acquire ten of the aircraft, although nothing tangible has been announced. TAI told Flightglobal in July it was in discussions with four potential export customers for the Anka.