Turkey Gets Israeli UAVs, Flotilla Fiasco Be Damned

Despite the crisis in bilateral relations over May's Gaza flotilla incident, Israel has delivered to Turkey the final four Heron unmanned aerial vehicles out of the 10 it ordered, Turkey's Today's Zaman newspaper reported yesterday.

The paper quoted Turkish military sources as saying that officers from both countries are testing the aircraft.

The first six of the UAVs, built by Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit Systems and Turkish partner Aselsan, were delivered in March after a delay of over two years. In 2004 Turkey agreed to buy 10 Heron UAVs for more than $180 million from Israeli companies IAI and Elbit.

One Heron UAV can watch six different targets at the same time. In addition to intelligence gathering, it can also illuminate targets for airplanes, helicopters and guided missiles. Heron UAVs can also stay in the air for 24 hours at an elevation of up to 30,000 feet, and transfer data within a range of 350 kilometers.