Istanbul, Turkey: Israel is putting some resistance to stop the Göktürk electro-optical satellite project, which will pave the way for the Turkish military to gather its own intelligence, according to a report published in Today’s Zaman. The project will enable the acquisition of high-resolution images for military purposes in Europe, the Caucasus and the Middle East and it will strengthen Turkey’s hand in fighting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The report revealed that Israel doubts that the satellite may gather images from its territory. Hence, it has put pressure on France, which is working on the construction of the satellite in cooperation with the Italian-based Telespazio to stop the project. Given the possibility that its efforts in France prove fruitless, Israeli officials are also lobbying in Ankara.
The Göktürk satellite will enable Turkey to sell the images obtained from the satellite to other countries as well. Israel is currently attempting to negotiate with Turkish officials in order to ensure Turkey does not sell images of Israel to other states. However, the response of Turkish officials was clear: “We decide how to use the images taken by our satellite.” Speaking to Cihan news agency, high-level officials from the Turkish Defense Ministry said: “For years, Israel has obtained images of our territory. For the first time, we will have a satellite for intelligence. Reciprocity is essential in international relations. If they observe Turkish soil, Turkey has the same right, too.”
Turkey’s defence and procurement authorities had completed a deal with 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 centre 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. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has been eliminated from the approximately USD 250 million project, most likely due to Israeli conditions such as the non-usage of military satellites over its airspace.