Turkey buys strategic unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel

The Turkish Air Force has procured the Heron UAV from the state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries. Turkish sources said the Heron beat the rival U.S.-origin Predator in a project expected to eventually exceed $50 million.
“The first systems could be expected to arrive over the next few months,” a source said.

In September 2005, IAI and Turkey’s Defense Industry Undersecretariat signed a contract for two Heron systems, which included 10 UAVs, Middle East Newsline reported. The sources said delivery was expected to begin by 2007.

The Heron has been described as a long-range strategic UAV deployed in the militaries of Israel and India. The UAV has an electro-optic and infrared search and rescue payload and could be used for maritime patrol missions.

The sources said Turkey plans to help assemble the Heron payload. They said Turkey’s state-owned Aselsan would develop and install the Heron’s forward-looking infrared [FLIR] system.

In 2003, India acquired the Heron UAV. The French Air Force has selected the Heron as the basis for the Eagle-1 medium-altitude, long-endurance [MALE] UAV. The project, led by Thales, was said to have been delayed because of U.S. refusal to provide components for satellite communications for the UAV payload.

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