If Israel imagined that Turkey’s reliance on Israeli-made unmanned aircraft might give them some leverage when attempting to mend the two countries frayed relations, the Obama administration is apparently willing to disabuse the Israelis of this hope. Turkey’s recent agreement to install a US-made NATO radar shield against a missile attack in Europe, has no doubt come into consideration as Turkey negotiates with the US over delivery of the UAVs.
Today’s Zaman reports:
Turkey is expecting the delivery of Predators in June 2012, the Turkish defense minister said a day after the country’s prime minister announced that Turkey has agreed with the US on a deal involving the transfer of US-engineered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that could prove crucial in combating terrorism.
“We have agreed in principle [on the delivery of Predators]. Negotiations will continue,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was quoted as saying by the Cihan news agency on Saturday in New York, where the Turkish leader was visiting on the occasion of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly. Erdoğan also noted that Turkey had offered to either purchase or lease the drones and that the two countries were still settling the details regarding the delivery of the Predators.
Following up on the agreement, Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz told reporters on Saturday that the drones to be received from the US would be delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in June of next year, reported the Anatolia news agency.
“These [Predators] are UAVs with better qualities and features than the Herons,” Yılmaz said, and added that the Turkish-made Anka would also be ready for the TSK around the same time, as an alternative to Israeli-made Herons.