For the last five years, the Turkish Army has been trying to buy UAVs.
All efforts have failed, so far, because of interference, or inactivity by the
Defense Ministry procurement bureaucrats. Apparently, not enough bribes have
been going to the right people, because Turkish defense procurement is not
always this sluggish.
recent effort involved buying an American Predator UAV. The manufacturer told
the Turks that, normally, it would take seven years to get one (there is a backlog),
but that the U.S. government intervened and made it possible for the Turks to
get a Predator in 18 months. The Turkish generals told the Defense Ministry
last month and, so far, nothing. Based on past experience, the forecast is for
more nothing, following by still more nothing.
purchase of $190 million worth of Israeli Heron UAVs back in 2004. The aircraft have not entered service yet. That's
because The Defense Ministry insisted that Turkish firms were to supply some of
the components, like the cameras, and delivery was scheduled for October 2007.
But the Turkish camera suppliers had some problems integrating their equipment
with the UAV, delaying service until, well, any day now.
problem is that the Turks are fighting Kurdish separatists in eastern Turkey
and northern Iraq at the moment, and really need those UAVs. So the Israeli
manufacturer made an interim deal to supply wholly Israeli Herons, along with
support personnel, on a $10 million lease. Because this is a wartime situation,
details like the number of Herons supplied.
The U.S. has
helped out in a similar fashion, providing one of their Predators for the
Turks. American operators run this UAV, but Turkish officers are basically
directing where the UAV will go and what it will watch. This deal has been
criticized because apparently the American UAV has also been used to seek out
PKK gunmen just across the border in Turkey. The Defense Ministry had not made
arrangements for the U.S. Predator to operate inside Turkey, so now the
lawyers, pundits, journalists and diplomats are making threatening noises.