Israeli UAVs bound for Turkey

10 aircraft bought by Turkish Air Force for use against PKK; Israeli crews to provide training, tech support.

heron 224.88 (photo credit: IAI [file])
heron 224.88
(photo credit: IAI [file])
Israeli defense contractors plan to deliver to Turkey within weeks 10 unmanned aircraft that will be used, among other things, in intelligence-gathering operations against Kurdish rebels, an official familiar with the deal said Thursday. As part of the $190 million deal with the Turkish Air Force, signed several years ago, Israeli crews will provide training and technical support for the Heron systems, the official said. A malfunction in a camera system manufactured for the drones by a Turkish subcontractor has held up delivery, but the problems are expected to be worked out soon, he said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the deal with the media. State-run Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. is lead contractor for the project, which also includes Israel's Elbit Systems Ltd. and Turkey's Aselsan. The Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, has battled for autonomy in southeastern Turkey for more than two decades, and uses strongholds in northern Iraq for cross-border raids. Tens of thousands of soldiers, rebels and civilians have been killed in the campaign. Turkey considers the PKK a terrorist organization, as do the US and European Union. The Turkish government's war against the rebels has been bolstered by US intelligence that has been flowing to Turkey since US President George W. Bush met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Nov. 5. Turkey, Israel's closest ally in the Islamic world, is an important customer of Israeli defense contractors.