F-16 Fighter Jet 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel stuck to its policy of restraint on Tuesday despite continued threats from Turkey that it will attack the IDF and amid concern that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s trip to Egypt is aimed at establishing a permanent Turkish naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean.
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Erdogan visited Egypt on Tuesday for talks with the transitional government as part of a bid to solidify Turkey’s standing in the Arab world. The visit came as media in Turkey reported that its defense industry has developed a new identification system for its F-16 fighter jets that will allow it to attack Israeli planes.
The previous US system installed in the plane had automatically classified all Israeli planes as “friend,” preventing attacks against them. The new system will allow Turkey to determine whether or not a target should be considered as a “friend” or a “foe.”
Interestingly, before Turkey’s decision to cut off ties with Israel, the Turkish Air Force had been in talks with an Israeli defense contractor about a possible $100 million deal to upgrade its F-16 fighter jets.
The report on the fighter jet identification system was the latest in a series of threats coming out of Ankara, and followed a report on Monday that Turkey was sending three frigates to the Eastern Mediterranean to protect aid ships trying to break the Israeli-imposed sea blockade on the Gaza Strip.
In an effort to prevent a further deterioration in ties, Israeli government officials declined to comment specifically on the various reports originating in Ankara and said Tuesday that Israel was growing concerned with the threats.
Particular concern was voiced regarding Erdogan’s visit to Tuesday, which is being viewed as an effort by the Turkish leader to establish himself as the new leader of the Arab world following the downfall of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year.
“Erdogan is taking advantage of the instability and ongoing upheaval in the Arab world to solidify Turkey’s standing and influence,” one official said, adding that Israel was particularly concerned with the possibility that Turkey would follow through with its threat and deploy navy vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean, possibly even based in Egypt.