Israel wins large tank upgrade contract from Turkey

JERUSALEM (AP)–Israel’s military industries have won a $700 million contract to upgrade old American-made tanks for the Turkish army–the Israeli Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

Israel views the deal as a new expression of the close strategic cooperation between the two countries–the Defense Ministry said in a press release.

The 170 aging M60A1 Patton tanks will be fitted with the latest systems to give them greater firepower and mobility and to provide better protection for the crews–the statement said.

Israel has already upgraded two squadrons of American-made F-14 Phantom fighter-bombers of the Turkish air force at a cost of $600 million and a number of F-5 fighters at a cost of $76 million.

The price tag for the tank deal is much less than Israel originally proposed–and the profit margin will be very small–the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Tuesday. However–the 170 tanks are only a small part of the Patton tank inventory of the Turkish army–and Israel hopes that more upgrading orders will follow.

Tank manufacturers from the US–Germany and France also competed for the contract–the paper said.

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