US-Turkey agree on delivery schedule for Predators

US-Turkey agree on delivery schedule for Predators

Undated handout image courtesy of the US Air Force shows a MG-1 Predator unmanned aircraft. The US has agreed in principle to deploy US Predator drones on Turkish soil to aid in the fight against the PKK, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said. (Photo: Reuters)

September 25, 2011, Sunday/ 11:53:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

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.

Turkey was disappointed by Israel's failure to return six Herons it had sent to the country for maintenance, as it relies heavily on spy aircraft for surveillance missions that gather data on the activities of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) across the country's borders in the Southeast.

Yılmaz did not give any details on the number of Predators the US would deliver to Turkey but acknowledged that Ankara had presented a request for the UAVs in line with the TSK's needs. The minister added that the US and Turkey have been strategic partners and are cooperating in combating terrorism, which necessitated that both “support each other with no conditions or prejudice.”

Meanwhile, the domestically made Anka, named after the legendary flying creature of Persian mythology, was brought out of the hangar for the first time in July 2010 and is expected to provide Turkey with a crucial advantage in its fight against PKK terrorism. The Anka is capable of disrupting the electronic ware of enemy aircraft and has made Turkey the third country in the world, after the US and Israel, to engineer UAVs.

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