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High-level talks in Ankara lead to new $1.5b arms deals between Turkey, Israel (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Amnon Barzilai 01/31/05)Source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/533823.html HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Israel and Turkey are currently discussing further security cooperation that would involve the refurbishment of another 48 of the Turkish air force´s F-4 Phantoms and some 200-300 M48 Patton tanks belonging to Turkey´s armored corps. Turkey is also looking into the possibility of purchasing Israeli-made Harpy unmanned aerial vehicles.

The potential scope of the arms deals under discussion is estimated at some $1.5 billion.

A Defense Ministry delegation, headed by ministry director general Amos Yaron, was in Turkey last week to meet with senior Turkish Defense Ministry officials, who said they wanted Israel´s defense industries to play a part in the modernization of Turkey´s military. The series of discussions in Ankara saw the formulation of a joint work program for the two armies in the coming year.

The Israeli and Turkish defense establishments are considering broadening the cooperation that alreadys exists between the two countries´ air and sea forces to include the land forces too.

In 1997, Israel Aircraft Industries won its first tender as principal contractor for the refurbishment of Turkish F-4 Phantoms. The deal was worth some $650 million. That same year, IAI, in conjunction with Elbit Systems and Singapore´s aircraft industry, won a contract to refurbish Turkish air force F-5 fighter jets.

It emerged in last week´s talks that the Turkish chief of staff and his deputy, the commander of the Turkish air force, wants IAI to do the overhaul work on the aircraft, while Turkey´s deputy defense minister would like to see the local aircraft industry do the work. Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul is expected to rule on the matter.

The talks last week also included a progress report on Israel Military Industries´ project to refurbish 170 Patton tanks for Turkey´s armored corps, at a cost of some $680 million. IMI is currently completing a prototype of the refurbished tank that will then be passed on to Turkey for mass production by the local military industry. It was noted in last week´s talks that the tank- refurbishment project will only be economically viable if an additional 200-300 tanks are overhauled.

A final decision will be made after IMI completes the prototype of the improved tank.

The political changes in Turkey and the rise to power of the Islamic party has not caused any changes in the relations between the Israel and Turkish defense establishments, sources stressed after last week´s discussions. (© Copyright 2005 Haaretz. 01/31/05)


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