Egypt plans to buy 10 Turkish-made drones, according to a report this week by Istanbul’s Sabah newspaper.

The decision to purchase the ANKA Medium Altitude Long Endurance unmanned aerial vehicles was made last week, during Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Cairo, and followed a 10-week negotiation, Sabah said.

Sabah quoted Turkey’s defense industry ministry spokesman Murad Bayar as saying Turkey plans to begin producing the ANKAs early next year.

The ANKA drones are produced by Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc. (TAI) and are designed to provide the Turkish military with a long-endurance, persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.

The eight-meter-long UAVs have all-weather, day and night ISR mission capabilities and can track fixed or moving targets, according to TAI.

TAI director-general Muharrem Dortkasli told Sabah that other regional countries have also expressed an interest in the ANKA.

Egypt has considered purchasing Turkish UAVs since last year, according to reports in the Turkish and defense industry press. Last year, the Egyptian Navy also signed a contract for six Turkish-built Yonca-Onuk multi-role tactical platform fast interceptor boats.

Ankara’s decision to develop an indigenous UAV came amid deteriorating relations with Israel, which has previously supplied Turkey with drones, and also as part of a wider strategy to extend Turkey’s influence in the region.

Israel became one of Turkey’s major arms suppliers in the 1990s, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet daily newspaper. In 2004, Turkey signed a $180 million defense contract with Israeli companies for 10 Heron UAVS. However, defense relations soured in the wake of the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in May 2010.

Earlier this month, Hurriyet reported that the Turkish military plans to return three tactical Aerostar UAVs to Israel, citing the drones’ poor performance against the Kurdistan Workers Party.

Turkey said it would not return the Herons, however.

Turkey leased the three Aerostars from Israel for $10 million in 2005, when production of the Herons it ordered was delayed.

Earlier this week, Erdogan said that Turkey was “the top third country in the world” after the US and Israel in terms of UAVs, and that the country also produced its own infantry rifles, warships and helicopters, according to Sabah.

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