Turkey's first unmanned air vehicle made its first flight on 30 December, according to Turkish defence officials.

Called the Anka - which translates as "Phoenix" in English - the 8m-long (26.2ft) composite UAV flew for about 14min from Sivrihisar air base. The 1,600kg (3,530lb) air vehicle is designed to stay aloft for up to 24h with a 200kg payload, and to reach an altitude of 30,000ft.

The Anka-A, the surveillance version of the aircraft, was unveiled on 16 July and has cost more than $100 million to design and develop. The sensor kit, being built by Aselsan, includes the company's Aselflir-300T electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor and a synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator. The EO/IR sensor is expected to reach initial operational capability by September, with both to be up and running by the close of 2011.

 Anka UAV - TAI

Anka UAV aft - TAI

Both images © Turkish Aerospace Industries

TAI says a test programme to involve three prototypes should finish at the end of this year, with the first Anka to be delivered to the Turkish armed forces in early 2012. The company is also reportedly developing an armed version of the UAV named the Anka-B.

Turkey quickly followed up the medium-altitude, long-endurance Anka's first flight with another boost to the country's growing UAV industry - a 4 January agreement between the Turkish defence industry undersecretariat and the Turkey-based Vestel Defense Corporation to develop a tactical UAV for the nation's armed forces. The defence ministry aims to end Turkey's need to import its militarys UAVs, says defence minister Vecdi Gonul.

"I am happy to express that, with the mini and tactical unmanned air vehicles and the Anka unmanned air vehicle manufactured by Turkish Aerospace Industries, Turkey's dependency on foreign sources for the supply of the unmanned air vehicles has ended," Gonul says.

Vestel, a defence subsidiary of a Turkish home appliance and electronics company, is developing the Karayel tactical UAV, which will fly for up to 20h at an altitude of 22,000ft with a payload of up to 80kg.

Additional reporting by Tolga Ozbek in Istanbul

Source: Flight International