JERUSALEM – Despite reports of daily anti-Semitic rhetoric from the Turkish government, cancelled Turkish-Israeli sporting games, and the cancellation of thousands of summer vacations to Turkey by Israeli tourists, the Turkish attitude toward the Jewish State seems to soften when it comes to Turkey’s security needs.
This week, a delegation of more than 20 officers and soldiers from the Turkish army landed in Israel for a two-week visit. During that time, they will be trained in the operation of the Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle, Heron. Turkey bought 10 unmanned aerial vehicles of this model and has already received six.
The value of the deal to the Israeli economy is $190 million, and that is only the beginning. Once Turkey receives all the unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel, the total amount of the deal will reach approximately $1.7 billion.
These unmanned aerial vehicles, which are produced by Elbit and Israel Aerospace Industries, serve Turkey in its battles against the Kurdish minority.
The Turkish delegation that arrived in Israel includes high-ranking figures in its defense industry and high-ranking administration officials. At the end of the visit, the Turkish delegation is expected to return to Turkey with the remaining four unmanned aerial vehicles that have not yet been supplied as part of the deal. Until recently, teams from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and from Israel Aerospace Industries stayed in Turkey in order to train the Turkish crews, but in the wake of the Marmara crisis, the teams were recalled to Israel.
Although Turkish officials had already issued statements that the deal had been cancelled and that Turkey would demand compensation from Israel, reports of the deal’s death turned out to have no basis in reality, and it was also agreed that the Israeli experts team would return to Turkey in the future in order to continue training the local crews.