No ban on military sales to Turkey

Group of Turkish military officers here to learn how to use Heron UAV.

By
June 24, 2010 03:34
1 minute read.
TURKISH OFFICERS arrived yesterday to learn how to

Heron uav 311. (photo credit: courtesy)

 
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Israel has not instituted a ban on military sales to Turkey, but will carefully evaluate the participation of Israeli defense industries in tenders there due to the growing rift between the countries, defense officials said on Wednesday.

The officials said that while Israel was not currently vying for a specific tender in Turkey, defense industries were welcome to participate after receiving approval from the Defense Ministry.

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“We cannot ignore what is happening in Turkey and the radicalization process that is being led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” one defense official said.

Meanwhile Wednesday, a group of Turkish military officers arrived in Israel for two weeks, during which they will learn how to use the Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) supplied to Turkey as part of a $180 million deal signed in 2004.

Last week, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems Ltd. recalled teams of engineers and flight instructors who were teaching the Turkish military how to use the aircraft, amid growing concerns that they could be targeted in retaliation for the botched navy raid on the international aid flotilla two weeks ago.

The Turkish delegation’s visit had been uncertain up until they arrived on Tuesday, officials said, due to the growing tension between the countries.

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During the raid, navy commandos boarded the Turkish passenger ship Mavi Marmara and in the ensuing clashes killed nine passengers, whom the IDF identified as mercenaries hired to ambush the soldiers. Israel suspects that the Turkish government was involved in financing the mercenaries.

According to officials, the delegation was in Israel to pick up four remaining drones that had yet to be supplied to Turkey and to learn how to operate them.

Elbit and IAI have told the Turks that they plan to redeploy their instructional teams in Turkey once the situation stabilizes in the coming weeks.

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