Israel has wiretapped conversations between Turkish pilots on military training flights, a Turkish news report said on Wednesday, prompting Turkish authorities to initiate a program to encrypt conversations during these flights.
Israel wiretapped the conversations among pilots of Turkish fighter jets during their training flights at the Konya 3rd Main Jet Base Command, apparently in a spying mission aimed at finding out details about the Turkish Air Forces' (THK) training programs and flight strategies, the report published in the Habertürk daily said.
Acting on this piece of intelligence, the THK has initiated a project to encrypt the communication between the fighter jets. Turkish engineers are currently working to develop a software system for encoding.
In Konya, the young aviators are undergoing initial training before passing on to comprehensive combat readiness training, which is a final training phase to become an F-16 fighter pilot.
Relations between Israel and Turkey, once close regional allies, have deteriorated sharply since the killing of nine Turks on May 31, 2010 in an Israeli commando raid on the ship Mavi Marmara, part of a six-vessel international convoy that set out to challenge the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Turkey cancelled all its military agreements with Israel following the event.
Until 2010, there were 16 agreements in effect between Turkey and Israel regarding military issues, including cooperation and the mutual training of troops.