If there seemed to be a faint sign of restoring the defence ties between Israel and Turkey, someone in Turkey has made it disappear, at least for now.
Alenia Aermacchi has signed an agreement with the Turkish undersecretariat for defence industries to deliver two ATR 72-600 Turkish maritime utility aircraft (TMUA) and six ATR 72-600 Turkish maritime patrol aircraft (TMPA) to the Turkish navy. The contract calls for strong industrial collaboration between Alenia Aermacchi and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) for the duration of the project.
According to the agreement, the Turkish navy will obtain the last generation, equipped with a glass cockpit, as well as more powerful engines that guarantee best performance and supportability for the next 30 years.
The two ATR 72-600 TMUA – already in the modification phase at Alenia Aermacchi’s plant in Naples – will be used by the Turkish navy for personnel and cargo transport and will be delivered in June and July 2013.
The six ATR 72-600 TMPA are designed as multirole assets to satisfy the Turkish navy maritime patrol requirement. The aircraft, named Meltem 3 in Turkey, will see the integration of the Thales AMASCOS mission system and will include new functionalities such as the automatic identification system (AIS), Link 16 and the last generation weapon systems, such as the Mk 54 lightweight torpedo.
Before the “peace flotilla” clash in 2010 that resulted in the severance of defence ties between Turkey and Israel, the first refusal for such a deal would have, without any doubt, gone to Israeli companies.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has specialised in taking an aerial platform and converting it to a mission aircraft.
The vast experience of Elta, the IAI subsidiary, in putting sensors, such as maritime radar and others, on a relatively small airframe has resulted in very good operational capabilities. But in the current climate, the Israeli company was not even an option.
In spite of continued efforts to restore relations between Israel and Turkey, the barriers are significant and Israeli companies will continue to see contracts that in the past were “in their hands” go to companies from other countries.
Defence cannot be separated from politics, even if the generals want this separation to work to allow them to perform their tasks in the most efficient way.