Turkey-based defence company Baykar will build a new factory near Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, the company’s CEO told Reuters on Tuesday.

The new factory will employ around 500 people and is expected to manufacture either Baykar’s TB2 or TB3 drone models, with the TB2 models deployed by Ukraine’s military in its war against Russia.

“Our factory is being built… we need about 12 months to finish construction, and then we will move on to internal machinery, equipment and organisational structure,” Baykar CEO Haluk Bayraktar said on the sidelines of the World Defence Show in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital. “The factory in Ukraine is a big one, we are planning to employ around 500 people.”

According to Bayraktar, it is not yet clear whether the manufacturing would focus on the TB2 or TB3 drone model. Bayraktar TB3 is the latest unmanned combat aerial vehicle produced by the Turkish defence company. Following its first flight in October 2023, the TB3 model underwent 13 flight tests including the latest one in December, which focused on endurance flight.

In 2023, the global military unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) market was valued at $10.9bn. GlobalData experts forecast that in the next decade, the market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.1%, reaching $18bn by 2033.

Baykar’s drone models have recently grown in popularity due to their efficiency and relatively affordable price compared with other Western-produced UAV models. This has prompted interest from governments around the world, with officials from Saudi Arabia and Turkey signing a series of agreements in August last year to localise the manufacturing of drones in the kingdom’s territory.

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The agreements, signed by the Saudi Arabian Military Industries defence company and Baykar, would see the manufacturing of electronic systems, mechanical components and drone structures using composite materials.

Asked if Baykar is concerned about security threats from the ongoing conflict with Russia, the company’s CEO said it was “fully moving ahead” with the plans to build the new factory in Ukraine.