Israel delays delivery of Turkish spy satellite

Political and economic relations between Turkey and Israel, which have been at an all-time low since the Mavi Marmara flotilla raid of May 31, 2010, are currently facing the “Göktürk” satellite crisis, an anonymous Defense Ministry source said.

Turkey’s defense and procurement authorities had completed a deal with the Italian-based Telespazio for the construction and launching of the country’s first military satellite, Göktürk, in 2009. The 250 million euro contract was signed on July 16, 2009, at a ceremony attended by top Turkish officials including Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül and Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) head Murad Bayar and company representatives. The agreement covers the supply of an earth-observation satellite equipped with a high-resolution optical sensor, an integration and test center for satellites to be built in Turkey and the entire ground segment of the system, which will carry out in-orbit operation, data acquisition and processing.

But the Italian company attempted to buy the high-resolution optical sensor from an Israeli company that said it would sell the sensor only if Turkey guarantees not to observe Israel. “This not only left the Italian company in a difficult situation but also drew a reaction from Turkey,” the same source stated. “The problem between the two countries on providing the optical sensor has not yet been solved. Because of this crisis, the Göktürk project faces the risk of not being finished on time,” he added.

Israel was also one of the participants in the tender with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) but was eliminated by the decision of the executive committee of the Turkish Defense Ministry.