Israel, whose relations with Turkey have been strained since its troops staged the deadly attack on the Turkish ship in 2010, has finally agreed to send additional electronic systems to Turkey, which will integrate those systems into its Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) military aircraft purchased from the US.
Turkey bought four AWACS-compatible aircraft from the US in the early 2000s to beef up its intelligence capabilities. A contract to install the electronic equipment to integrate the warning system with military planes was won by Israel, which earlier delivered two of the planned systems. However, it announced in 2011, following tension that began with the passenger ship attack, that it would not be delivering the remaining two systems.
However, Tel Aviv has apparently changed its mind and has delivered the remaining parts to Ankara. The system is now at a Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) facility in Ankara. The integration of the additional parts into AWACS will be completed in weeks to come.
The ongoing Syrian conflict has posed additional challenges for Turkish national security, especially following the downing of a Turkish jet by Syria's air defense in the Eastern Mediterranean. The tensions with Israel and Greek Cyprus over the issue of gas drilling in the region have also added to Ankara's concerns as Turkey seeks to boost its early warning systems to handle the multi-dimensional challenges stemming from the numerous crises in the region.
The system allows a military aircraft to protect itself from electronic attacks targeting its controls during a flight. Israeli company IAI-Elta is manufacturing the electronic support system for the four aircraft, with the cost of the project amounting to $25 million.
A senior defense bureaucrat told Today's Zaman last month that Boeing, the manufacturer of the planes that are part of the system, had to intervene. “Boeing told Israel that their refusal to complete the delivery was hurting their business, and Israel agreed to deliver the equipment,” he said.
The AWACS craft are expected to greatly increase dominance over Turkey's own airspace. The radars on these planes are being manufactured by Northrop Grumman, another US company. Turkey is waiting on the fourth plane from Israel. Currently, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has three of the craft, fully equipped. Many Turkish defense companies, including TAI, HAVELSAN, ASELSAN, MİKES, HAVELSAN TEKNOLOJİ RADAR, KALE KALIP, SELEX and Turkish Airlines (THY), have assume responsibilities in the project.