The Israeli government has approved the delivery of electronic support measures (ESM) equipment to be installed on the Turkish air force's new Boeing 737 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system aircraft, despite the ongoing severance of defence ties between the nations.

According to Turkish sources, the decision to transfer ESM equipment manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries' Elta Systems subsidiary was taken as a result of heavy pressure from the US administration and Boeing.

Relations between Israel and Turkey deteriorated in 2010 after Israeli commandos stormed a Turkish ship carrying relief supplies en route to Gaza. The Israeli defence ministry subsequently ordered IAI and Elbit Systems to stop all work for Turkey.

By that time, Boeing had delivered the second and third of four 737-based AEW&C aircraft ordered by Ankara to Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), which conducted in-country modifications. The programme's other two aircraft were still in the USA, with the first having been used for development, test and evaluation. In June 2012, Boeing announced that validation testing was still being performed on Turkey's first three aircraft, while the radar was still being installed on the fourth aircraft in Seattle.

In 2011, former Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak cancelled the licences to export all Israeli defence technology to Turkey. Israeli sources say the ban was largely lifted last year, and that most of the ESM equipment for the AEW&C fleet had already been supplied to Boeing.

Source: Flight International