ANKARA — Turkey has launched a program to buy a zeppelin to act as a UAV against its worst enemy, the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), operating in the southeast near the country’s borders with Iran and Iraq, procurement officials have said.
Lockheed Martin, the maker of the balloon, says it could serve as the main surveillance platform of a system that would monitor a large area, officials from Lockheed Martin and the procurement office said.
“The system is very safe against ground fire. If it is hit by ground fire, it automatically shuts the hit area, so another hit does not endanger the balloon,” said one Lockheed official. “This has been used against the terrorists in Afghanistan safely for years.”
“The company is increasingly in touch with the military and the police forces,” said one procurement official.
The procurement official said that a deal was expected soon, and that the price depends on the size of the balloon to be bought.
Turkey in the late 1990s had launched the zeppelin program, but the talks were ended because of a financial crisis at the time.