Turkey's Military Electronics Industry (ASELSAN) has produced a new identification friend or foe (IFF) system for Turkish jet fighters, warships and submarines and the new software, contrary to the older, US-made version, does not automatically identify Israeli planes and ships as friends, a news report said on Tuesday.
The new IFF has already been installed in Turkish F-16s and is expected to be installed in all Navy ships and submarines, the report, published in Turkish daily Star, said. It will be fully operational when it is installed in all military planes, warships and submarines.
The F-16 jet fighters, purchased from the US, came with pre-installed IFF software that automatically identifies Israeli fighters and warships as friends, disabling Turkish F-16s from targeting Israeli planes or ships. ASELSAN-made IFF will allow Turkish military commanders to identify friends and foes on the basis of national considerations.
Turkey was unable to make modifications to the friend or foe identification codes in US-made F-16s, while Israel was given a different version of the software allowing Israeli authorities to make modifications. Israel was also authorized to view the version given to Turkey, according to Star.
The report comes amid a severe crisis in ties with former ally Israel. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an set the stage for a possible naval confrontation with Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying last week that Turkish military ships will escort civilian ships carrying aid to Gaza, under an Israeli blockade since 2007.
A news report on Monday said three frigates were to be sent to the Eastern Mediterranean to protect aid ships from a possible interception by Israeli warships. The frigates, according to the report, will get as close as 100 meter to any Israeli military ship if those ships are outside of Israeli territorial waters.
Star also suggested that the new IFF system could be linked to a series of suspicious suicides in ASELSAN. Three ASELSAN engineers committed suicide in 2006 and 2007, but the media speculated that the engineers might have been murdered given the families' testimonies that the suicides seem to come out of the blue with no warning signs. The report added that all three engineers had worked on the new IFF system to be used for F-16 fighters.
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