7 January 2013 / EMRE SONCAN, ANKARA
Israel, whose relations with Turkey have been strained since its troops staged a deadly attack on a Turkish passenger ship in which nine civilians were killed as part of a flotilla bringing supplies to Gaza in May 2010, has changed its mind about not delivering hardware to be installed on Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) military aircraft to Turkey.
Turkey bought four AWACS-compatible aircraft from the US in the early 2000s. A contract to install the electronic equipment to integrate the warning system with military planes was won by Israel, which earlier delivered two of the planned systems. However, it announced in 2011, following tension that began with the passenger ship attack, that it would not be delivering the remaining two systems.
But sources say Israel has changed its mind. A senior defense bureaucrat told Today's Zaman that Boeing, the manufacturer of the planes that will be integrated into the system, had to intervene. “Boeing told Israel that their refusal to complete the delivery was hurting their business, and Israel agreed to return the equipment,” he said.
The system allows a military aircraft to protect itself from electronic attacks targeting its controls during a flight. Israeli company IAI-Elta is manufacturing the electronic support system EL/L-8382 [ESM/ELINT] for the four aircraft, with the cost of the project amounting to $25 million. The system is expected to arrive in Turkey next month, following Boeing's intervention.
The AWACS craft are expected to greatly increase dominance over Turkey's own airspace. The radars on these planes are being manufactured by Northrop Grumman, another US company. Turkey is waiting on the fourth plane from Israel. Currently, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has three of the craft, fully equipped. Many Turkish defense companies, including TAI, HAVELSAN, ASELSAN, MİKES, HAVELSAN TEKNOLOJİ RADAR, KALE KALIP, SELEX and Turkish Airlines (THY), have assume responsibilities in the project.