Ha’aretz reports the following:
Crews from Israel Aerospace Industries, operating unmanned aerial vehicles, are participating in Turkish military operations against PKK militants in northern Iraq, according to Turkish reports to be published today in the Turkish Daily News.
Ten days ago, the Turkish television station Star reported that IAI Heron UAVs are being used in the offensive against the Kurds.
The same report stated that Turkey’s Chief of Staff, General Yasar Buyukanit, had observed the UAVs’ operations in real time, in the operations room of the Batman air force base near the border with Iraq. The intelligence relayed by the UAVs was used by the Turkish Air Force in targeting the Kurdish militants.
However, in the Turkish Daily News report, a Turkish military source is quoted expressing criticism that the IAI and Elbit, which is also part of the Heron program, have failed to meet their contractual obligations and have delayed the supply of UAVs ordered for the Turkish Air Force in 2005.
“The delays have left the TuAF critically short of UAVs when intelligence input from those valuable reconnaissance assets are exceedingly required,” the Turkish military official was quoted as saying.
According to the Turkish newspaper, the presence of the Israeli crews is an interim solution that was offered following the delay in the delivery of the UAVs.
So here we have yet another example of Israeli support for Turkey and of the long term ‘cozy relationship’ between these two countries. For an interesting analysis of the current development see Mizgin’s excellent blog.