Meanwhile, it is important to note that throughout the Afghan peace process, Turkey has been keen to take control of the Kabul international airport and has been offering its ‘assistance’ to control the airport. However, with the Taliban taking over Afghanistan, Pakistan has now handed over the control of the airport to Turkey. Under present circumstances, Kabul international airport is all set to be used by Pakistan for using Turkish drones to attack dissenting groups in Afghanistan. It is believed that the airport was used to initially station the drones before attacking Panjshir.
However, sources suggest that the attack on Panjshir was launched from the Bagram Airfield – the major base for the US air force. The Bagram Airfield is situated in the province of Parwan that shares a border with Panjshir, making it best suited for Pakistan to launch an offensive. The Bagram Airfield is one of the most efficient and capable airfields in the region and contains two runways. In 2015, the US forces enhanced the ability of the airfield by creating an additional runway to support flying missions of different countries throughout the region.
Here, another interesting fact comes into play. Reportedly, China has started to take control of the Bagram Airfield. According to the American press, Chinese armed forces are working on a feasibility study to make the Bagram Airfield a part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Moreover, China is also planning to deploy its aircraft and soldiers on the airfield.
Also, experts have not ruled out the possibility of Pakistan using Bagram air base for operating drones.
US political figure and former diplomat Nikki Haley expressed her apprehensions on September 8 over this and argued, “We need to watch China because I think you are going to see China make a move for Bagram Air Force Base. I think they are also making a move in Afghanistan and trying to use Pakistan to get stronger to go against India. So, we have got a lot of issues.”
The calling out of Pakistan’s offensive in Panjshir by using its drones by the international press has been termed as ‘propaganda’ by the Pakistani Army. Talking to the press, Pakistani Army’s spokesperson General Babar Iftikhar stated the charges on the use of Pakistani drones in Panjshir as “complete lies” and “irrational propaganda from India.”
The Pakistani Army argues that the CH-4B category drones in its possession are incapable of carrying out an attack on Panjshir. In this regard, Justin Bronk from the UK based think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) argued, “the CH-4 would need a direct line-of-sight radio control link from a ground station, making it extremely difficult – but not impossible – to operate significant distances from the Pakistani border in rugged terrain.”
The argument strengthens the fact that the drone attacks on Panjshir were launched from Bagram Airfield, which was used as a ground station where a direct line-of-sight radio control link has already been established. The drones were not launched from Pakistan, but from Bagram. In this regard, observers suggest that the Kabul airport, under Turkish control, can be used in a similar manner by the Pakistani army to use its aircrafts and drones and ensure deniability at the same time.
Most importantly, Turkish drones were overwhelmingly used by the genocidal regime of Azerbaijan in the 2020’s 44-day war against Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). In late September 2020, Azerbaijan, Turkey and jihadists launched a broad ground and air offensive which was supported by Turkish drones in the Artsakh territory.
Prominent media outlets and magazines as well as Armenian and foreign intelligence services highlighted the use of Bayraktar TB2 drones by the army of Azerbaijan and Turkey during their aggression against Artsakh. Furthermore, the US-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in one of its reports, highlighted: “In Nagorno-Karabakh, the TB2 likewise performed well in targeting and destroying enemy defenses. In addition to providing identification and targeting data, the TB2s also carried smart, micro guided munitions to kill targets on their own. Azerbaijan has also used the high-definition cameras the TB2s carry to produce many propaganda videos. Videos showcasing attacks on Armenian fighters and equipment were posted online and broadcast on digital billboards in Baku.”
Turkey and Azerbaijan were thus successfully implementing their aggressive anti-Armenian policy in history’s first 6th-generation war by getting a huge advantage in the air thanks to the Turkish drones. It is needless to warn that Erdoganocracy will further expand the use of their drones against the Armenians and others in the upcoming inevitable conflicts in the MENA region.
Turkish drones have seen so much success that Pakistan is attempting to add to its fleet of Chinese UCAVs Turkish ones, despite its economic challenges and empty coffers.
Turkey has been developing an armed low-cost unmanned aerial vehicle called ‘Kargu’. Kargu has a range of 10 km and can carry six rockets. One remote station can be used for ten drones at a time. In a tweet by Dr. Ali Bakir, a Turkish analyst and assistant professor at Ibn Khaldon Center in Qatar University, revealed that Turkey had recently signed a deal for the export of Kargu drones to an undisclosed country. Reports have also revealed that the Pakistani armed forces (particularly the Pakistani Army) have been interested in acquiring the DJI’s Matrice 300 RTK drone with Zenmuse H20T series quad sensor, payload, and enterprise advanced drone. The Matrice 300 RTK features a flight time of up to 55 minutes and supports up to three payloads and six directional sensing and positioning systems simultaneously.
Still dissatisfied with the current situation, Pakistan has taken steps to create an assembly line of drones in Pakistan itself. Turkey’s leading UAV producer, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), has signed a contract with Pakistan’s National Engineering and Science Commission (NESCOM). According to the memorandum of understanding, TAI and NESCOM will engage in technology transfer and jointly produce components for TAI’s Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) combat drone, Anka. The Turkish drone has a payload capacity of 250 kilograms and can fly at an altitude of 30,000 feet. Pakistan’s expanding UCAV fleet will give it the power to sustain the puppet Taliban government in Afghanistan.
Moreover, the connections between Taliban and Pakistan are well known to the world. Taliban leaders have lived and thrived in Pakistan and very recently wounded fighters of the outfit have been treated in Pakistani hospitals. American political scientist C. Christine Fair wrote in Foreign Policy magazine that “without Pakistan’s intelligence and military establishment’s unstinting support for the Taliban, the group would be a nuisance rather than an effective fighting force.” As a response, there have been growing calls for a tougher stance against Pakistan for its blatant support for terror outfits like the Taliban.
Vahram Ayvazyan is the founder of the Armenian Network State. He is an International Relations and Genocide scholar, startup founder and a Climate Reality Leader, personally trained by former US vice president Al Gore.