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Erdogan’s Armed Drone Maker Leads Military Push, Unsettling Allies

Russia and Pakistan are being asked to share production, and that risks alienating traditional allies within NATO.

Turkish military vehicles being deployed to the Syrian border as reinforcements in Feb. 2020. 

Turkish military vehicles being deployed to the Syrian border as reinforcements in Feb. 2020. 

Photographer: Burak Milli/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Last year, Selcuk Bayraktar helped swing conflicts in Libya and Azerbaijan, thousands of miles from his home in Turkey.

A former MIT research student married to the younger daughter of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Bayraktar has been central to Turkey’s emergence as a producer of armed drones. In 2020, his Baykar company’s TB2 unmanned planes were used with devastating effect by governments in Tripoli and Baku, both Turkish allies.