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BURAK BEKDİL

burak.bekdil@hurriyet.com.tr

BURAK BEKDİL > ‘Turkey suspends delivery of ANKA drones to Egypt’

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That was, more or less, the title of a slew of news stories in the Turkish (and foreign) press recently. The lead paragraph would proudly announce to the reader that the Turkish government had made punishing decisions against Egypt’s interim (coup) government, and one of the decisions was to suspend the delivery of Turkey’s national unmanned aerial vehicle, the ANKA, to Egypt despite an earlier agreement. Readers’ comments were truly fun: Hats off to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for punishing Egypt’s coup leaders by putting a halt on the delivery of a strategic, all-Turkish military aircraft. Hats off to the colleagues who fabricated that story!

As always, facts are slightly different than the news produce of Erdoğan’s willing propagandists in the media: 1- There never was an agreement between Turkey and Egypt for the sale of the Turkish drone ANKA, 2- Hence, no deliveries had been scheduled, 3- Naturally, one could not suspend unscheduled deliveries under a deal never signed, 4- The ANKA is not an aircraft anyone could sell because it does not exist even in the Turkish Air Force’s inventory, 5- There is not yet even a contract to sell the ANKA to the Turkish military, and 6- The “all-Turkish” ANKA boasts a foreign engine, foreign automatic take-off and landing system, foreign landing gear, foreign flight data computer, foreign radio, foreign sensor and may even feature a foreign targeting pod soon – not to mention its Persian name.

I remember that one of Erdoğan’s election billboards before the 2011 parliamentary elections had claimed: “Our own aircraft is in the skies!” The billboard was a reference to the ANKA, which at that time had been briefly in the skies, making one crash landing after another. But never mind, rumor has it that the “Turkish” drone can nowadays take off and land without much damage.

If you take every piece of defense-related propaganda news seriously then you might be tempted to believe that Turkey will build its own fighter jet in the next few years by spending nearly – an optimistic – $32 billion in an ambitious program. The cost estimate, sadly, excludes the engine for the aircraft. When you just add to that modest budget another $16 billion Turkey optimistically hopes to spend on the new generation, multinational fighter, the F-35, you would realistically conclude that Turkey is talking about spending $50 billion to $55 billion for new fighter jets – plus whatever it may deem appropriate to spend for about 200 jet engines.

The only trouble is not whether that sum will be available in the Turkish vaults. There is another minor snag: Who will fly all those new generation aircraft? According to Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, in January/February 2013 alone, 110 military pilots, 63 of whom are warplane pilots, quit service. Another 11 are behind bars on charges of plotting a coup against Erdoğan’s government. There are several others who are mulling their career options in civilian life, and no fewer are waiting for the first chance to get a nice pension package and retire. Unless, of course, they are arrested on charges of attempting to undermine the Turkish Armed Forces just by deciding no longer to work.

Meanwhile, the last annual reshuffle of the top brass on Aug. 3 introduced Turkey’s least senior commanders ever for all four services. Surely, a colonel as air force commander will be out of question for a long time, but Erdoğan’s military advisers should at once find a solution to the emerging pilot shortage in the service.

Recruiting war pilots from among the graduates of Erdoğan’s favorite education institutes, the imam schools, could be an option. Hiring, on a part-time basis, pilots from friendly/brotherly countries in Turkey’s vicinity could be another: The air forces of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Armenia, Bulgaria, Greece and Israel would surely volunteer to help.

August/14/2013

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READER COMMENTS

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Turk Uzan

8/15/2013 1:18:08 PM

@ K M, The ANKA does exist the prototypes have been flying tests since 2010 in January 2013 it completed acceptance tests for the Turkish army, introduction was April 2013. All tests are concluded and the ANKA is about to go in to mass production. Yes Egypt wanted to buy 10 of them and we would have finalized the contracts in June if it wasn't for the coup etc. Plan was for Turkey (TAI) to develop a custom flight control computer for Egypt and Egypt would build some of its parts

K M

8/14/2013 11:26:30 PM

@Turk Uzan: Turkey sold something that doesn't exist? Did Egypt actyually pay for 10 non-existent craft? If so, no wonder AKP loved the MB!

Turk Uzan

8/14/2013 8:28:51 PM

@ Red Tail, Your comment is completely nonsensical. This is EASILY verifiable info, takes a quick google search you genius. So where are your facts? Where are the facts for BB's nonsense claims? So when BB makes it up it's a FACT no questions asked? Maybe look up the definition of a FACT. Maybe provide prove for your claims? Explain where you got the info from that the sale never happened or who's making what systems? NAME the "foreign" companies etc? NO? That's what I thought,..

mara mcglothin

8/14/2013 7:29:01 PM

UZAN Perhaps your 12 year old sister would like to apply for a columnist position. We await her first opinion piece.

Red Tail

8/14/2013 6:57:49 PM

Turk Uzan. Just because you write 25 negative words and and rude comments, your claims will become true or convincing. Read them yourself now afterwards, and you will see that they contain no substance nor anything interesting. To write that you think something is bad in 25 different ways without any kind of facts or interesting points is not a very impressive performance.

mara mcglothin

8/14/2013 6:14:21 PM

Greating writing BURAK BEY. You summed it up perfectly. DOGAN Since when has there ever been anything called "constructive criticism" in Turkey unless it is coming from the PM's lips?

Turk Uzan

8/14/2013 5:00:16 PM

@ Dogan, I fully agree. His articles aren't much more sophisticated than a high school blogger who writes about his most hated teacher anonymously and creates false rumors about that person. @ Harry, if you paid attention he already did write a comment criticizing someone. And unlike BB Dogan had some valid points. Your telling me this can't be written by any fool? My 12 year old sister can do this better even provide bogus sources for her lies unlike BB with zero sources to back up his nonsense

Turk Uzan

8/14/2013 4:50:49 PM

BB is one of those writers that will shamelessly lie and try to deceive just to get an anti government message out. Yes we get it, you don't like AKP. But why would you "LIE" .? IT's sickening that you'd make stuff up just to get your self some attention and spread you anti AKP message (I hate RTE and AKP btw). But this is just pathetic and it makes me sick. You are no journalists BB, you are more like the "angry" blogger hungry for attention ready to come up with any kind of lie for a few views

Turk Uzan

8/14/2013 4:44:04 PM

@ BB, So now we're calling shameless lying "journalism"? First of all, we sold Egypt 10 ANKA's right after the fall of Mubarak. Second of all, except the engine (which hasn't been finalized or chosen yet but will most likely be foreign) all the systems you shamelessly mentioned as "foreign" were actually developed and made in Turkey. So what are you trying to do here? What's the point of this? This is easily verifiable information, so WHY are you lying and spreading misinformation BB?

Harry Foundalis

8/14/2013 3:22:54 PM

Dogan kemal ileri wrote: “the variety [of criticism] you specialise in which quite frankly any fool can do”. Really? *Any* fool? I don’t think so. Why don’t you try once, dogan kemal ileri?
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