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Turkey won’t return Heron UAVs to Israel

Written By THA on Saturday, 3 November 2012 | 13:02

People stand near an Israel Aero Space Industries Heron 1 UAV in Emmen. REUTERS photo

The Turkish Armed Forces is prepared to return three Aerostar drones, tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), to their original maker the Israel-based Aeronautics Defense Systems, but will not return Herons used against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

“The contract is at a stage of cancellation,” said one procurement official, confirming the drones will be returned.

Israel became one of Turkey’s top arms suppliers in the mid-1990s. But defense relations between the two stalled after the delivery of 10 Heron UAVs in 2010 when Turkey accused Israel poorly treating its neighbor Palestine. Turkey aslo cancelled several defense drills with Israel. The majority of the Turkish press mislabeled the three drones set to be returned as Herons, which are medium-altitude and long-endurance (MALE) UAVs that operate up to 10,000 meters and for up to 24 hours.

But when a partnership between Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit and the Turkish firm Aselsan grabbed the $183 million contract in 2005 against the U.S. General Atomics production of the Herons was delayed. This forced Turkey to lease the three Aerostars for nearly $10 million. The Aerostars are designed to fill the capability gap between short-range drones and MALE drones. (Hürriyet Daily News)
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