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(ECO) TURKEY YET TO CANCEL HERON DEAL WITH ISRAEL.

ANKARA, May 20, 2009 (TUR) -- Turkey has not revoked its contract with Israeli companies to purchase unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), Turkey's Defense Minister said on Wednesday.

"There is no cancellation about Herons (Israeli-made UAVs), but there is examination," Vecdi Gonul told reporters who asked about media reports claiming that Turkey cancelled the deal.

Turkey agreed with Israel Aerospace Industry (IAI) and Elbit three years ago to buy 10 Heron UAVs for over 180 million USD. Israeli firms delivered two of the Herons in December 2008, but the rest of them have not been not delivered yet.

Earlier this year, Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul had said other Herons would join the Turkish army by the end of April.

However, Turkey speeded up a project to manufacture its own military surveillance drones after Israeli companies missed the deadline, Turkish defense industry officials said.

On Monday, an Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, wrote that Turkey was mulling to cancel the deal because of the delay. An Israeli official told the Israeli daily that the problem was the camera produced by a Turkish company to be attached to Herons. Israeli official said the camera was too heavy for Herons to fly up to 30,000 feet.

Turkish officials said that Turkey had no responsibility for the delay. Haaretz wrote that a Turkish official said Israeli company had information about the weight of cameras to be installed on Herons and Israeli party told Turkey that it would not cause a problem.

Turkish officials told the A.A that Turkish engineers were working hard on a national project to enhance abilities of current Turkish UAV which is expected to be fully completed next year. Turkish-made UAVs will be able to take pictures from 10 kilometers high.

(THROUGH ASIA PULSE)
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Publication:Anadolu (Eskisehir, Turkey)
Date:May 20, 2009
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