Turkey and Israel start defense cooperation

Turkey and Israel have commenced their defense contract cooperation with a ceremony to mark the joint production of upgraded M60A1 tanks for the Turkish military. The ceremonies held at Kayseri, the site of the new production line, were attended by top Turkish and Israeli officials on Tuesday. There was some initial tension over the delay of the contract by Israel, as it conducted field tests on technologies needed for the upgrade, however this seems to have been solved.

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The program will cost $688 million and calls for the upgrade of 170 M60 tanks to front-line condition based on advanced technologies and systems developed for Israel’s Merkava main battle tank. Israel committed to transferring to Turkey a significant amount of technology needed to ensure efficient in-country conversion and production of the modernized platforms, under the contract concluded by the two governments in 2002.

There had been delays due to problems with management, changing customer requirements. However, Akara has said that the program is now back on track after receiving last week the modernized prototype that had gone through rigorous field tests in Israel.

Officials in attendance of the opening ceremony were: Murad Bayar, director of the Turkish Defense Ministry’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries or Savunma Sanayi Mustesarligi (SSM), hosted the Israeli delegation, which included Israeli Defense Ministry Director-General Jacob Toren, Yossi Ben-Hanan, director of the ministry’s Sibat export agency, and executives from Israel Military Industries (IMI) and Elbit

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