Turkey And Israeli Arms
April 20, 2005
ANKARA: Turkey announced on Tuesday it had chosen an Israeli manufacturer to supply its army with 10 drones and ground stations, ahead of a fence-mending visit to Israel by the Turkish prime minister.
A joint venture between two Israeli firms, Israel Aircraft Industries and Elbit, was awarded a contract for three unmanned aerial vehicle systems, which include 10 aircraft, surveillance equipment and ground control stations, the under secretariat for defence industries said in a statement.
The contract is part of a 183-million-dollar project in which Turkish companies will provide sub-systems and services amounting to 30 per cent of the project, it said.
The Israelis plan to finish their part of the project in 24 to 30 months, the statement said. The announcement came ahead of a visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Israel and the Palestinian territories on May 1-2 following a chilly period in Turkish-Israeli ties.
Erdogan has harshly criticised the Jewish state's policies against the Palestinians, calling them "state terror" at one instance last May.
Turkey, a strictly secular non-Arab Muslim nation, has been Israel's main regional ally since 1996, when the two countries hammered out a military cooperation deal, much to the anger of Arab nations and Iran. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul held fence-mending talks in Israel in January, declaring that bilateral ties remain strong.