Turkey unveil first drone plane

July 16, 2010 19:13

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey on Friday unveiled its first drone airplane, a surveillance craft able to fly for 24-hour stretches over the rugged mountains where Kurdish rebels are waging a deadly insurgency.

Turkey's eagerness to produce its own military technology mirrors its increasingly robust and independent diplomacy in the region. And producing its own drone fleet would allow Turkey to sever an important link with Israel, which has provided Turkey with drones even amid rising tensions over Israeli policy toward the Gaza Strip.

While the success of the Turkish-made drone is far from assured, Turkish engineers said they were confident it would become part of the country's arsenal. Ozcan Ertem, head of the project, said an armed version of the Anka, or Phoenix, was possible but not in the works for now.

Ertem said four or five countries, including Pakistan, which has also sought drones from the U.S., are expected to place orders for the Anka once the Turkish Air Force issues an order probably later this year. The first system, comprising three planes and remote-control units, was expected to be delivered to the Turkish Air Force in 2013.

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