The Turkish defense ministry said Friday that it would test a prototype before launching talks with an Israeli firm on a lucrative contract to upgrade a fleet of battle tanks.
In a written statement, carried by the Anatolia news agency, the ministry did not specify when the tests of the prototype systems provided by the Israeli Military Industries (IMI) would take place.
It added that the ministry would consider alternative options for the modernization of the M60-A1 main battle tanks if the systems on offer or their prices proved unsatisfactory or if the prospective talks failed.
The ministry did not give further details.
Earlier this month, Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported that the contract, estimated at between 200 million and 400 million dollars, would be awarded to the IMI, a state-owned defense consortium.
Israel and Turkey signed a military agreement in February 1996 aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two, angering several Arab countries and Iran, who viewed the entente as a direct threat to their interests.
Since striking the deal, the two countries have brokered several arms agreements, including a 750-million-dollar contract to upgrade F-4 Phantoms for the Turkish air force, and have taken part in joint naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Turkey.
Turkey has a comprehensive plan to modernize its military and plans to spend 150 billion dollars as part of the project over the next 30 years - ANKARA (AFP)
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