Turkey to launch first intelligence satellite in 2012

Erdogan makes announcement on live TV; Gokturk satellite said to be worth almost $350m.; will be used in operations against PKK.

Erdogan 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Erdogan 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Turkey will launch its first intelligence gathering satellite in 2012, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan announced the plans while speaking to his party live on Turkish television.
RELATED:Israel launches new spy satelliteIran attempts to block European satellite signals
“We will launch the Gokturk intelligence satellite in 2012,” he said.
The news agency said that the satellite, said to be worth almost $350 million, is intended to reduce Turkish reliance on US intelligence, particularly in conflicts against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The PKK has staged hit-and-run attacks on Turkish targets — mostly from bases in northern Iraq — in their decades-long campaign for autonomy in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting.
The group is labeled a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.
The report added that the satellite would also be used to crack down on human trafficking in the country, and to deal with narcotics smuggling.
AP contributed to this report.