Dec. 5, 2013 defense-unmanned.com
(Source: Today’s Zaman; published Dec. 4, 2013)
US Blocks Company from Exporting UAV Tech to Turkey
ANKARA --- The US government has prevented an American company from exporting camera systems and laser pointers to a Turkish company, Vestel, which wants to acquire the technology for its newly developed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the Karayel.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) tasked Vestel in 2011 with developing new UAVs, and the company is expected to deliver the Karayel in July 2014. Aiming to equip these new UAVs with camera systems and laser pointers, Vestel sought out an American company, WestCAM Solutions, from which to acquire the technology. The American company applied to the US government for permission to sell their products to the Turkish company, but the request was denied. The US also canceled the delivery of Predator drones in 2013.
The laser pointers that Vestel ordered from the American company are used in UAV targeting systems.
The US's apparent disapproval of Turkey possessing weaponized UAVs could hinder Turkey's efforts in that direction. The country is also seeking to arm its first domestically developed UAV, the Anka.
Sources at the Turkish Defense Ministry who requested anonymity told Today's Zaman that Turkey has the capacity to produce its own technology, hinting that Turkey may start efforts to produce the laser pointers it needs domestically.
Some are speculating that the US prevented WestCAM Solutions from exporting the technology to Turkey because of Washington's anger with Turkey's recent selection of a Chinese missile system for its long-term, long-range missile and aerial defense program, instead of a NATO member country.
The tactical UAV system Vestel has been developing consists of six aircraft, three ground control stations and one launching pad. The Karayel UAVs will be able to reach altitudes up to 18,000 feet and carry up to 35 kilograms. The Karayel will be able to stay in the air for 10 hours of uninterrupted flight.