Israel not withholding UAVs from Turkey, officials say

Turkish PM Erdogan claims Israel won't return the UAV's sent to be fixed, cannot be trusted; Defense officials say engines are being repaired.

September 7, 2011 20:40
1 minute read.
Israeli drone [illustrative]

[illustrative] Israel drone 311 IAF. (photo credit: Courtesy: IAF [illustrative])

Defense officials dismissed Erdogan’s accusations that Israel was not providing maintenance services for Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) supplied Turkey last year.

In 2005, IAI and Elbit Systems won a $183 million contract to supply 10 Heron UAV and associated systems to the Turkish Air Force. Deliveries were completed last year.

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In response to Erdogan’s claims, one official familiar with the deal said that IAI recently received a delivery of a number of engines that required regular maintenance and repairs. The official said that work on the engines was ongoing at IAI’s MALAT factory near Ben Gurion International Airport and that they would be returned to Turkey once the work was completed.

The engines’ presence in Israel does not affect Turkish operations since under the deal, the Turks purchased spare engines that enable them to continue flying the UAVs even when some of the engines are in repairs.

These statements came after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan told Turkish media on Wednesday that "Israel is not faithful to its international security agreements," referring to the UAVs. "Difficulties can arise, there can be problems between states, these things can happen, but there is an international ethical code that enforces business agreements."

"Unmanned aircraft bought from Israel were sent back for maintenance and being withheld and not returned to us. That is a flagrant violation of an international agreement between our military industries," Erdogan said.

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