The Turkish military is still using Israel-made UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), a senior source in the defense establishment said Monday, following a report in the Turkish daily Zaman, suggesting Ankara has ceased using such UAVs in favor of Turkish made ones.
"Anyone paying attention to what is written in the report can immediately see that it's false," said the source. "There is no such thing as Turkish-made UAVs, simply because they do not manufacture any unmanned aerial vehicles.
"If the Turks were able to manufacture UAVs, they wouldn’t be buying them from Israel; and even if they started manufacturing them, they can't just dispose of an Israeli UAV, which they paid a fortune for, and spent months learning how to operate, and just change it," he said.
The Turks, he added, "Would have no problem stripping the UAV from its Israeli trademarks, giving it a new paint job, sticking the Turkish flag on it, and staging a photo op.
"This is all just a show for (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan. Their prime minister is causing them a lot of grief. The military doesn’t like his policies – so he replaces generals.
"They need to take part in the show called 'we hate Israel' and pretend to boycott Israel. It's the same in Israel. As things stand, I meet with many high-ranking Turkish officials and both sides know that the relationship will continue."
Many Israeli defense contractors are in negotiations for projects in and with Turkey, he continued. There is a very important defense symposium in Paris this week, and Israeli contractors will meet with Turkish businessmen.
"The overall sentiment is 'we're here to do business – leave politics out of it.'"
Meanwhile, employees of the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Israel Military Industries (IMI) stationed in Turkey have been instructed to return to Israel, and have done so. Defense establishment source, however, stressed that the workers will return to Turkey as soon as the crisis between Jerusalem and Ankara is over.
The IAI and defense contractors Rafael and Elbit refused to comment, however, sources in the IAI said that the UAV deal signed with Turkey in 2009 was nearing its completions, as scheduled.