Officials said the administration of President Barack Obama has been
mulling a Turkish request to acquire the Predator UAV in the war against
Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. They said the Defense Department has been
negotiating with Ankara for the deployment of a Predator squadron based in
Turkey's air force base at Incirlik.
"This would allow Turkey greater access, and perhaps even direct access,
to Predator operations," an official said.
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The U.S. military has been operating Predator, produced by General
Atomics, to conduct reconnaissance missions of suspected Kurdish rebel bases
in northern Iraq. Officials said the Pentagon transfers UAV data to both
Iraq and Turkey under a trilateral intelligence relationship.
For the last two years, the Predator unit has been based in northern
Iraq and meant to be removed as part of the U.S. military withdrawal in late
2011. Under the latest proposal, the UAVs would be transferred to Turkey's
Turkey has long sought to acquire Predator for long-range missions. But
officials said Washington has rejected any Predator model that could be
modified into a combat platform.