As tense Turkish-Israeli relations have made it almost impossible to renew intelligence cooperation between the two countries, especially in purchasing new Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as well as the delay in completing the Turkish ANKA (a UAV project), Turkey has decided to lease five manned aerial vehicles (MAVs) from the US in order to obtain intelligence in the fight against terrorism in southeastern Turkey.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the National Police Department have ended their project using human-controlled vehicles for exploration and monitoring that had been started to eliminate the weakness of intelligence in the fight against terrorism. As a result, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz have appended binding signatures to bring the human-controlled intelligence vehicles from the United States to Turkey. Five planes, which will be rented from the US for two years, will be brought to Turkey at the end of May and deployed in the province of Batman. King Air 350 planes that are equipped with technical intelligence systems will be used in security operation zones.
Pilots from the Turkish Air Forces (THK) will reportedly fly the King Air 350s instead of the unmanned Israeli-made Herons, which do not need to be controlled by human beings when they are in the air. The new aircraft use sophisticated and advanced technology and are expected to give an edge to the Turkish military in its fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The cameras set on the aircraft can even detect what type of rifle a terrorist on the ground is holding. The King Air 350 will transmit in code the visuals it records to a ground station. The King Air 350s will remain in service until the completion of the Turkish ANKA project.
The aircraft are able to ascend to a height of 30,000 feet, and three of the five planes can be in the air for 24 hours. The project will cost Turkey $70 million. Along with the TSK, MİT and the National Police Department will also be able to use new technology if they deem it necessary.