Turkey has developed a new identification system for its U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets, which will now allow them to fire at Israeli targets, a Turkish newspaper as reporting on Tuesday. According to the report, the new technology will allow Turkey to identify its enemies itself, as opposed to the old U.S. system which automatically identified all Israeli targets as a "friend," preventing Turkish fighter jets from firing at them, even when Turkish pilots were ordered to do so.
|Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan|
The new Identification “Friend or Foe” will be put into place on all Turkish fighter jets and military vessels. The orders to modify the system reportedly came directly from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office. The new radar system – Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) – is a defensive command and control system developed by Turkey's Military Electronics Industry (ASELSAN) for the nation's air force and navy. It is slated to replace a similar US version which is in use today.
The US system is comprised of lists of "friends" and "foes." The system's settings are designed to prevent pilot error as well, to an extent, disabling the ability to fire at "friendly" targets even by mistake.
The move, whose timing coincides with a prolonged period of unprecedented diplomatic tensions between Ankara and Jerusalem, has received extensive media coverage in Iran, as well. According to foreign media sources, the Israeli Air Force has a fleet of 1,964 aircraft, including 689 advanced assault helicopters and F-15 and F-16 fighter jets. And Israel's aerial superiority will soon receive a significant boost, in the form of the US-made F-35 fighter jet.
|F-35 Joint Strike Fighter|
The Turkish Air Force is said to have a fleet of "just" 1,940 aircrafts, including F-16s and F-4 Phantoms, as well as 874 assault helicopters.
Like Israel, Turkey has also been promised the F-35. It is slated to receive it by 2015.
The move comes at the height of the Israeli-Turkish diplomatic crisis, after Ankara expelled the Israeli ambassador in a feud over an Israeli raid last year that killed nine Turks on a flotilla bound for the Palestinian enclave of Gaza. Israel has said it would not apologize, which Turkey has demanded.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan has demanded Israel apologizes, and recently embarked on a visit to Egypt in an attempt to re-establish diplomatic and military ties with Cairo.
In part of the interview published by Al-Shorouk, an Egyptian daily, on Monday, Erdogan said Israel had "not fully grasped the reality of changes that happened in the Arab world."
Last week, Erdogan warned that the Turkish navy will strengthen its presence in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and that Turkish warships will accompany any aid vessels wishing to transfer aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.