Despite the Turkish antagonism to Israel of late, business is business: A joint Turkish-Israeli project to revamp and upgrade 170 Turkish tanks has been completed.
The last of the tanks, model M60A1, was delivered to Turkey this week, completing the program jointly carried out by the Turkish Defense Ministry, Israel Aircraft Industries and Elbit Systems.
The program was the largest of its kind in the world, and the tanks are now equivalent to the highest-level tanks in the world.
The nearly-$700 million deal was signed in March 2002. It is not clear if the successful conclusion of the project will lead to better ties between Turkey and Israel, or perhaps Turkey's new-found lack of dependency upon Israel will lead it further towards Islamic extremists.
Turkey’s M60A1 tanks started out as 40-year-old American armored vehicles, but now boast state-of-the-art weapons systems that combine the best of tankionics, fire power, sensors, and more.
Turkey’s Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul outlined, at the concluding ceremony, the technological advantages of the upgraded tanks, and noted that it had undergone very thorough – and successful – checking prior to operative use. He added that in order to access the knowledge and experience acquired in the course of the project, Israel Aircraft Industries and a Turkish company had signed a cooperative agreement, with the goal of working together on additional projects throughout the world.
Defense Ministry Director-General Gen. (res.) Udi Shani said, “I am proud to be here on Turkish soil and to take part in this ceremony. Another joint project has ended successfully. This project is unique in its scope in both countries, which recruited its best forces for the mission.”