A Turkish manufacturer has promised to donate three combat drones to Ukraine free of charge after a crowdfunding campaign raised over £16 million.
Bayraktar unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) emerged as one of Ukraine’s most effective tools of war against Russia, which has outgunned it on almost every other front.
A crowdfunding campaign launched by a Ukrainian TV celebrity earlier this month aimed to raise enough money to buy three UAVs for the war effort.
Serhiy Prytula said last week Ukrainians crowdfunded enough money to buy as many as four drones worth a total of $20 million (£16.3 million).
“Our nation is simply amazing! We are united, we can do impossible things!” he tweeted.
We did it!!!! 🇺🇦 Ukrainians crowdfunded for 4 Bayraktars in under 3 days!
20 mln $ / 600 mln UAH
Our nation is simply amazing! When united, we can do impossible things! Thank you everyone!! pic.twitter.com/bj2gX3Qrx9
— Serhiy Prytula (@serhiyprytula) June 24, 2022
Baykar, a Turkish company that makes Bayraktar TB2 UAVs, said in a statement late on Sunday it has decided to hand over the drones for free as it was moved by Ukrainians’ “solidarity and resolve in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges”.
“Business leaders and ordinary people alike contributed funds - small and large - to reach this milestone within a matter of a few days,” the company said.
“Baykar will not accept payments for the TB2s, and will send three UAVs free of charge to the Ukrainian war front. We ask that raised funds be remitted instead to the struggling people of Ukraine.”
Praise for the Turkish manufacturer whose drones became a household name in Ukraine poured in from all parts of the country.
Andriy Yermak, chief of staff of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted on Tuesday to thank Baykar:
“For every Ukrainian, Bayraktar is a legend that will become a symbol of victory of the indomitable Ukrainian people.”
The Turkish-designed drones helped Ukraine to make up for gaping holes in its arsenal such as an acute shortage of jets.
Throughout the four months of war with Russia Bayraktars have been seen striking tanks, other armoured vehicles and even Russian patrol boats with high precision.