Most recently, state-controlled Ukrainian company Ukrspecexport and privately owned Turkish drone specialist Baykar Makina signed what they view as a strategic cooperation deal. The agreement involves development and production of "sensitive technologies in defense and aerospace."
Ukrspecexport has produced firearms and ammunition since 2011. Its parent company, the state conglomerate Ukrboronprom, operates five divisions: aircraft products and maintenance; precision weaponry and munitions; armored vehicles, automotive equipment, engineering and special equipment; shipbuilding and marine facilities; and radar, radio communications and air defense systems, Defense News reports.
"The deal aims to enhance both countries' capabilities and serial production of the systems they need," a Turkish procurement official said.
At the heart of the agreement, however, is the planned development and production of advanced drone systems, both armed and unarmed. "One immediate project may involve a high-altitude drone system with high altitude and rapid mobility capabilities specializing in obtaining detailed flight reconnaissance input," according to the Turkish official. "Future programs may involve drone systems with attack capabilities."
Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, visited Baykar's production and research and development units during a visit to Turkey in August.
According to a Ukrainian diplomat, the defense cooperation initiative aims to transfer ballistic missile capabilities to Turkey through Ukrspecexport's parent company.
"The intention is to boost drone capabilities, as both Ukraine and Turkey will in the future need more drone systems with strategic capabilities," the diplomat said. "Other potential areas of cooperation may also include helicopter gunships."
A Turkish state aerospace company, Turkish Aerospace Industries, produces the T129 attack helicopter under license from the Italian-British firm AgustaWestland.
The emerging Turkish-Ukrainian defense cooperation has not gone unnoticed in Washington and Moscow.
“We strongly support this initiative between two allied states,” a U.S. diplomat in Ankara told Defense News.
For its part, one of Russia's diplomats in Turkey said Moscow is keeping an eye on the "bigger picture,” referring to the delivery of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system to Turkey.
An Ankara-based expert of Turkish defense trade said the drone market is an optimal starting point if Turkey and Ukraine are serious about collaborating on materiel production. "Various drone models may soon come into [the] production stage as geostrategic and military requirements of Ukraine and Turkey match," he said.
Earlier this year, Baykar Makina won a $69 million contract to sell six Bayraktar TB2 UAVs along with ammunition to Ukraine.
"Turkish-Ukrainian defense cooperation will potentially go beyond drone systems," the Ankara-based expert forecast. "Promising businesses could be armored vehicle modifications and, most notably, the Altay."
The Altay is Turkey's first indigenous new-generation main battle tank in the making.