High-level talks in Ankara lead to new $1.5b arms deals between Turkey, Israel (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Amnon Barzilai 01/31/05)
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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
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
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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