US delivers first out of five surveillance planes to Turkey
Özgür Ekşi ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Hawker Beechcraft, the US-based manufacturer of the King Air 350 planes. failed to deliver all five surveillance planes to Turkey on time. The jet is also used for civil purposes.
Turkey has received one of five surveillance planes that it ordered from the United States to monitor the activities of Kurdish militants in Southeastern Anatolia, but the remaining four aircraft are not expected to arrive until September.
Hawker Beechcraft was expected to provide the King Air 350 airplanes before the end of May, but only one jet has so far arrived, touching down last month.
Ankara has taken out a two-year lease on the five aircraft for $70 million in the interests of augmenting its airborne capabilities in the anti-terrorism struggle against members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Hawker Beechcraft will take care of maintenance for 4,000 flying hours for the next two years of the planes.
The planes will be used to monitor the movements of the PKK, along with existing Herons, Israeli-made unmanned aircraft.
Buying the planes instead of leasing would be a cheaper option, sources from the Undersecretariat of Defense Industries (SSM) admitted. However, they preferred leasing due to time pressure, but they may consider buying similar planes in the future, the same officials told the Hürriyet Daily News.
“We can get rid of planes once we think they have outlasted their usefulness. This is the advantage of renting,” an official said, noting that renting planes would allow authorities to see whether such systems were effective for Turkey.