By Emre Soncan, Today’s Zaman (Ankara) – 15 Oct 2009
A top official at the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries has announced that Israel will deliver unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, to Turkey by the end of 2009, adding that Turkey plans to impose a monetary penalty on Israel for the delay.
Speaking to Today’s Zaman, the official stated that the long-delayed delivery is expected to happen in November or December at the latest. “Turkey plans to impose a heavy monetary penalty on Israel for the delay. If this country refuses to comply with the penalty, then Turkey will head to the International Court of Commercial Arbitration,” noted the official. According to the official, the penalty could mount to $3 million or $4 million. Turkey and Israel have recently been at odds due to Israeli-made surveillance drones, known as Herons. Earlier this week Turkey cancelled long-expected NATO air force exercises, which Turkish officials explained as a retaliation for the delay.
Turkey agreed four years ago to buy 10 Heron UAVs for over $180 million from Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems, Ltd. However, the Israeli firms missed the deadline for delivery. The Israeli company was expected to deliver four Herons in August, followed by another two and then the last four by the end of October.
What was problematic about the delivery of Herons was, according to Israeli engineers, the difficulty in the strengthening of Heron engines to enable local Aselsan-made electro-optical payloads (Aselfir300T) to be fitted onto the Heron UAVs. The Aselsan payload weighed more, which necessitated the strengthening of the Heron UAV engines