Turkey returns Israeli UAVs - report

"Defense News": The Turkish Army intends to return three Aeronautics Aerostars, because of poor performance against the PKK.

"Defense News" reports that the Turkish Army intends to return to Israel three tactical Aerostar UAVs, made by Aeronatics Ltd., due to poor performance against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Turkey's worst enemy.

"Defense News" quotes a procurement official as saying, “The contract is at a stage of cancellation." The magazine added that Turkish officials did not specify the performance problems with the UAVs.

The magazine says that Aeronautics officials did not comment on the Aerostar issue, and it quoted an Israeli diplomat in Ankara, Nizar Amir, who said he had not heard about the Turkish position. “We have not been informed by Turkish authorities."

"Israel became one of Turkey’s top arms suppliers in the mid-1990s. But after the well-publicized delivery of 10 Heron UAVs in 2010, Turkey reduced diplomatic ties with Israel after commandos from the Jewish state killed nine Turks aboard a ship trying to break an embargo on the Palestinian Gaza Strip. Turkey also canceled several drills with Israel’s military," Defense News writes.

The magazine says that, in 2007, Turkey contracted with Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) to procure the 10 Heron UAVs, but production was delayed, and later in 2007, Turkey leased the three Aerostars for nearly $10 million as a stop-gap solution until the Herons were delivered. Turkey subsequently bought the Aerostars for $30 million.

Aerostars are tactical UAVs, designed to fill the gap between short-range UAVs and medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAVs, and are smaller than Herons.

"Defense News" reports that one Heron crash-landed during a mission over southeastern Turkey, where the separatist PKK operates, this year. The aircraft is being repaired and will be used again, officials said. Turkey bought only two ground control devices, and a maximum of two Herons can be operated at any given time.

In October, "Globes" cited Polish media reports that Poland's Ministry of Defense was furious with Aeronautics, after it missed the delivery deadline for Aerostars. The UAVs were intended for use by the Polish Army in Afghanistan to improve reconnaissance capabilities. Some reports said that Poland had cancelled the $35 million contract and that it was seeking compensation.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 6, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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