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Tuesday, September 13, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Administration weighs transferring drone base
from Iraq to Turkey

WASHINGTON — The United States has proposed transferring its advanced unmanned aerial vehicles to Turkey.


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 Incirlik.

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.

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