Turkey's refusal to let Israel participate in the NATO air force exercises, which raised concerns in Jerusalem and was sharply criticized by the White House, was due to a delay in the delivery of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Turkey by Israel, and not Ankara's opposition to Israel's actions in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, Turkish newspaper Zaman quoted a Turkish air forces official as saying on Wednesday.
"Turkey needs those vehicles in its fight against terror. What led to the recent crisis between Turkey and Israel was the delay in the delivery," the anonymous official said of the Israeli-made surveillance drones, known as Herons.
Four years ago, Turkey made a deal to buy 10 Heron UAVs for over $180 million from Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems Ltd., yet according to the Zaman report, the Israeli firms missed the deadline for delivery, which led Chief of General Staff Gen. Ä°lker BaÅŸbuÄŸ to "share his concerns" with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in late September, and the latter "assured BaÅŸbuÄŸ that the government would back any military sanction on Israel," the unnamed official said.
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