Great news: Turks to change IFF designation for Israel so they can shoot faster

Ready, fire, aim.

Calm down, calm down.  The Turks can already shoot at Israeli planes.  It just takes longer and requires consciously overriding the objections of the IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) system in the cockpit.

According to Turkish press, as quoted by Ynet, the Turkish air force will be fitting its F-16 fighter jets with new IFF systems, which will not treat the signal from an Israeli IFF transponder as friendly, and will thus facilitate more efficient attack.  The F-16’s original IFF system is made to US/NATO specifications, and identifies an Israeli IFF response as friendly.  This creates an inconvenient requirement to override the system’s restrictions preventing engagement of friendly aircraft, in order to fire on an Israeli plane.  (A serious inconvenience when both the shooter and the target are traveling at 500 knots or more.)

The difference to Turkey’s air combat posture is neither inconsequential nor militarily earth-shattering.  But announcing it to the public has no military function.  It’s a political move.  And the most important point is that Turkey has no fear of making it.

If nothing else, given the mutual-defense aspect of the NATO alliance, the Turkish move should give the rest of NATO pause.  Having a unique national perspective on which nations’ militaries are “friendly” and which are not is something that quickly becomes untenable in a security alliance.

This consideration is hardly abstract:  Israel has participated in a number of NATO-sponsored exercises in the last several years, including air and sea exercises in the Aegean Sea.  It is no accident that Turkey has announced retrofitting her air force’s IFF systems, and planning to do so with her ships and submarines, a few days after Israel and Greece signed a military cooperation agreement.

The Turkish announcement was also made two weeks before the target date for offshore oil drilling to begin south of Cyprus, in the area where Cyprus and Israel have established a maritime claims agreement.  Independent Cyprus, with a Greek heritage and culture, has been a client of Athens since independence, and will naturally seek support from NATO, and Greek support in the EU, to counter whatever actions Turkey takes against the drilling operation.  The IFF modification for Israel is one Turkey couldn’t direct at Greece without burning all her bridges, but there is certainly an element of Turkey seeking to drive a wedge between Greece and Israel.

This move by Turkey will have little effect on the prospects for an Israeli attack option against Iranian nuclear facilities.  That option has been severely constrained for some time; even assuming a quiescent IFF posture vis-à-vis Turkish forces, Saudi Arabia is now the only potentially viable path for the IAF.  Meanwhile, the scope of attack required in 2011, to do enough damage to justify launching it outside of a hot-war situation, has all but expanded beyond the IDF’s conventional capabilities anyway.

The significance of this Turkish action is that Erdogan expects no pushback for reckless behavior.   It’s even possible that he means this move to create a bargaining chip with the US, like the leverage he now has with his agreement to host an X-band radar for the NATO theater missile defense system.  Turkey’s warning on the IFF issue has the potential to circumscribe and even stymie the plans of NATO nations in the region, if a resolution in Israel’s favor is not forced on Ankara.

The coming days will reveal whether Erdogan has read the Obama administration correctly.  Obama could direct US contractors to suspend or abrogate their defense-systems agreements with Turkey, and many in Congress will certainly push for that.  That would be a politically satisfying reaction, and an understandable one, but it would also leave Turkey in the driver’s seat and keep the focus on a side-issue rather than the big picture.  This move is not designed to offer a constructive path forward for regional or US security.

Frankly, Turkey’s announcement should be handled as an issue of NATO integrity.  The US should rally the other members to put stern pressure on Turkey as a group.  But Erdogan apparently calculates either that such a response is unlikely, or that he can turn it to his advantage.  His behavior is very much that of a chess player who believes he has his allies checkmated.

Maybe he does.  One thing is for sure:  inert as the NATO West may be, Erdogan’s career of initiative will soon start meeting with counter-initiative from the region.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online.

28 thoughts on “Great news: Turks to change IFF designation for Israel so they can shoot faster”

  1. It’s a jab and tells the idiots what side Erdogan is on. Obama, being idiot number one, will probably travel to Cairo for another speech which he is sure will put everything right.

  2. If ever there was a time for “electronic component” this is it… It might make an interesting reality show on TLC or even Spike… REPO MAN: Boo Hotwires a Turkish F-16, while Scooter gets a laugh over the huffer truck’s funny whistling sound…

    All kidding aside, we are in deep trouble with Turkey, and they have too much of our stuff to not be taken seriously.

    JE, I know the Med was your gig for a while, and the Turkey/NATO thing is sort of an imprinted instinctive reflex thought. There WERE lots of good military folks in Turkey’s armed forces… a generation ago. Those men are now long gone. Turkey is no longer a NATO ally (in reality – it is on paper and in the wishful thoughts of the old Cold War school…) but the nation walked out on its NATO commitment in 2003.

    The Erdogan Government is heading full speed into the re-assertion of the Ottoman stance, and a re-establishment of the Islamic Caliphate… which it will gladly head, or share with its new best buddy Iran… as soon as a few million Kurds are “taken care of”.

    And with O-Zero in the White House, and a meat ax dangling over the Defense Department, we have no leverage at all. Jaw boning NATO is about as useful as setting fire to granite… Nothing much will come of it.

    The Middle East is going to get ugly, and do it fast… If Iran finally gets the Bomb… the new Caliphate will run from Qom. If it doesn’t just yet… Ankara will might actually relocate to Istanbul. Either way, we lose.

    Turkey is not going to be cajoled into staying in the “West” it doesn’t want to. It is now an emerging Islamist state.. like Egypt, Libya, and probably Jordan, next.


    1. Turkey isn’y buddies with Iran and it’s more piffle to think about a new caliphate.

      Turkey hasn’t all that much need of NATO these days and not all that reason to be happy with a Europe that doesn’t want Turkey as a member of the Union.

  3. Where was “NATO solidarity” when citizens of NATO-member,Turkey were unlawfully killed on the high seas by a non-NATO foreign power?

    That particular dog which didn’t bark told Turkey much of what it needed to know about the value of NATO and the reliability of the US as an ally. For this and other reasons Turkey is understandably diversifying it’s alliances.

    There is another serious issue. Why in heaven’s name would NATO warplanes accommodate non-NATO foreign powers within their foe-identification systems? I would presume Turkey doesn’t want unauthorized foreign aircraft transgressing its airspace.

    As for “leverage” with Turkey, Congress threw that away when it attempted to censure the victim, Turkey, rather than the foreign pirates who unlawfully killed NATO (including an American) citizens. In the real world, neither this nor any other administration has any retributive capability against members of the voluntary alliance that is NATO. Turkey is an ally in a strategic location, any attempt to punish Turkey to protect the interests of non-NATO, non-strategic millstone, Israel, will only further harm US interests in the region.

    We don’t do colonization. We respect private property and the rule of law. Should we be alienating strategic NATO allies to protect foreign countries that violate these core US values?

    1. Those darn Jews! Killing Arabs at Olympic Games. Blowing up airliners. Launching missiles into the West Bank,Egypt,Syria,etc. Building tunnels into Arab areas to smuggle weapons and explosives to attack schools,buses and restaurants. Threatening to push all the Arabs into the sea.
      The failure of the Arab world to join the present century is certainly the Jews fault.
      If the Jewish state did not exist, the Arab World would be the cutting edge civilization of the modern world.
      The Global Village would marvel at the Arab Green technology,shovel ready jobs, Arab Public Sector Unions, no un-employment, ultra high taxes creating jobs left and right.
      If only there were no Jews.

      1. No. I cannot agree with you that “those darn Jews” are to blame. It is only a violent and fanatical fundamentalist minority and their political supporters who are to blame. Most Jews of my aquaintance don’t steal other people’s homes. They buy their homes for market value with the fruits of their honest labours. You seem to be labelling an entire religion as evil. This is as bad as labelling all (the equally semitic) Arabs as violent and fanatical because of the actions of a few fanatics. I assure you that the people who burn the crops of their Arab neighbours, or authorize the use of phosphoros and cluster weaponary against civilians, and commit other such acts are not representative of Jews in general.

        1. Most Jews of my aquaintance…… Do you keep a few around your home as pets and mascots?
          What is the market value of the avowed elimination of a race of people?
          The moderate Arabs are very similar to moderate Islamists. One simply can’t find one when they are needed.
          To para-phrase your empty opening poppycock about Jewish aquaintances,”some of my best friends are Arabs.”
          I would like to compliment your belief in the free market system concerning real estate.
          It is gratifying that you agree the Federal Govt. should not force lending institutions to grant loans to people that can’t afford the same.
          Paulite “Libertarian” LOL

    2. Idiot number two. Get it. Number two. You did walk into that darling. Hey, comrade, pass the Quran.

  4. Couldn’t Israel just call Obama’s bluff and use Iraqi airspace to get to Iran? Obviously they would have to pass via Jordan for a few miles, but I’m assuming that neither the Jordanian nor the Iraqi Air Forces would be able to stop them (and I’m assuming the latter still have the default IFF designations).

    Another alternative would be to take a more circuitous route via Libya, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia (though I don’t know whether that would be technically feasible). A third option would be to send aircraft carriers around the Cape to the Arabian Sea (though I admit that would take weeks).

    1. and what would Israel do once they got to Iran that would be worth the trouble that would come Israel’s way in return?

  5. @ Paulite T. Those IDF commandos were attacked by Turkish provocateurs as they tried to run a legal military blockade. Nato didn’t rush to defend the Turkish government’s tacit approval of terrorist fellow-travelers because even they didn’t want any part of that mess. Although I will say that Nato’s and the U.S. gov’t’s defending Israel’s right to defend their shores probably gave Erdogan all the approval he needed to travel down his sabre-rattling path.

    1. You need to read the Paulsen report. It said nothing of the sort.

      What it did say was:
      1. The killings were unlawful.
      2. That Israel should apologise and compensate.
      3. That Palmer had not been requested to rule on the legality of the blockade per se, but given that Israel (as blockading agent) was still legally in occupation of Gaza, it was entitled to ensure that armaments were not smuggled into Gaza, but no more, and that Israel is entitled to interdict and inspect for armaments. Its general blockade on shipping is unlawful.

      The minimalist esponse of Israel to this UN-sponsored report rather gives the game away. The wider implications of Palmer are far-reaching and Israel knows it. So does Turkey. Among these implications is:
      1. Israel as occupying power is ultimately responsible for the safety and welfare and nutrition of the people of Gaza.

        1. Despite what the Palmer raiders may write or say or think, the people of Gaza are ultimately responsible for their own safety and welfare and nutrition.

          Israel is responsible for seeing that they don’t cause the Gazans unnecessary harm, not for protecting the Gazans from Hamas’ oppression or the Gazans own desperate and ill-considered choices.

          Ultimately, the Arab States who surround Israel and made war on Israel and conspired in terrorist attacks on Israelis and enforced a boycott of Israel are responsible for the safety and welfare and nutrition of israelis …. makes almost as much sense as does your statement.

          1. Entirely and completely incorrect. Neither the Arab states nor the international community have any responsibility whatsoever for the Gazans. The nation that beseiges and controls access to Gaza is solely responsible at law for the maintenance of the beseiged population. Period.

            The people of Gaza are currently being sustained by voluntary donations from the international community. Many of the newly free Arab countries that are supplying this sustenance are now asking themselves why should they be relieving Israel of its responsibilities as occupier? They are asking themselves whether this aid to Gaza isn’t merely letting Israel off the hook and prolonging the seige. If Israel were forced to feed its prisoners it might give more thought to its behaviour.

            1. first off, you didn’t read my comment correctly…or didn’t respond as if you did.

              The people of Gaza are currently being sustained by voluntary donations from the international community.


              or do you mean “for the last couple of generations? and it’s not the Arab countries, newly freed or not, that’s doing the supplying. this supplying, currently and for a hell of a long time, is via the UN and is coming 50% from Uncle Sam and 25% from the Queen of the Britons. if the Gazans were waiting for the Arab States to feed them, they would be nigh on to extinct.

  6. J.E. If Turkey were to continue to turn to the East and the past over the next 20 years, what does the US do as a practical matter as far as bases, communication,air space,forward supply areas etc. ?
    Adjusting the perimeter so to speak.

    1. the US will comply with the expressed wishes of the Turkish government in regard to usage of Turkish sovereign territory unless and until they are no longer at peace.

      1. All countries have the final say about soverign territory usage. That is as informative as saying all english words contain at least one vowel.
        All with good humor Fuster. Best Regards.

        1. depends on how you regard y.

          my point is that Turkey owns Incirlik and we like using it.
          Turkey is going to continue looking eastward because it must and
          we’re going to continue using Incirlik and paying some heed to Turkish concerns….and blather about Turkey attempting to resurrect the Caliphate isn’t going to affect the real world.

          like it or not (and I don’t) Erdogan is playing up his anti-Occupation rhetoric as a means to certain ends. like it or not (and I don’t) Israel has a man serving as Foreign Minister that makes it easy for Erdogan.

          Erdogan and his government and party are not trustworthy.

          Lieberman and his party are an existential threat to Israel’s continuation as a democracy.

  7. As long as the Turks don’t attack US ships, why is this a concern for the American taxpayer? Israel is another fanatical religion-based state that attacks everyone around it based on superstitions, paranoia and bigotry. When they make reparations for the sailors of the USS Liberty, then we will know they have rejoined the secular world. Until then, turn off the money spigot and put pressure on them to get along with their peace-abiding neighbors (like Turkey).

    1. you have but a slender grasp of fact…..

      which peace-abiding neighbors has Israel attacked, Separate Set of Facts?

      you might look and learn about just how peaceful Turkey has been in the last 25 years, in case you want to learn about a nation that’s in the process of undoing Attaturk’s work to separate church and state.

      (hint: look under Kurds, mass unmarked graves)

      1. From Fuster:
        >>you have but a slender grasp of fact…..

        which peace-abiding neighbors has Israel attacked, Separate Set of Facts?<>you might look and learn about just how peaceful Turkey has been in the last 25 years, in case you want to learn about a nation that’s in the process of undoing Attaturk’s (sp.) work to separate church and state.<<

        You might want to learn about the definition of peaceful in terms of this thread. You also might want to provide one scintilla of evidence to support your assertion that Turkey is abandoning its secular course.

  8. wreed — apologies for the delay in responding. I think Turkey will try to keep a NATO presence in relatively good standing for as long as possible, because it neutralizes NATO and potentially gives NATO a stake in negotiating Israel down from every national policy Turkey wants to object to. This will apply to much more than Israel, though.

    It appears Erdogan has read Obama correctly, given that the US has negotiated with Turkey to host the NATO missile defense radar, in spite of all the confrontational things Turkey has been doing. We had an alternative — putting the radar in Bulgaria — but Obama and NATO chose to go with Turkey as if nothing has changed.

    Greece would happily accept more NATO bases as things stand today, but I suspect that will shift quickly if NATO is inert in any crises that develop over Cyprus, Israel, or territorial claims in the Aegean Sea. Greece and Russia are turning to each other as Erdogan ramps up his Ottoman saber-rattling.

    It’s not nearly as impossible as it was 10 or 15 years ago that Greece could reject “EU-ism” as a basis of culture and politics, and turn, with a nationalist flavor, to her historical ties of Orthodox Christianity with Russia and the Serbs, as a security measure. The overlayer of the professional elite in Greece would certainly reject that idea today, but there are strong rumblings among the people that EU-ism isn’t working for them anyway. If it clearly won’t protect them against a resurgent Turkey — whose leadership has been prancing around the Balkans celebrating Turkey’s former Ottoman ownership of the territory there — the people may no longer sit still for the collapse of EU-ism.

  9. Welcome, Separate Church and State. The US has to care about a NATO ally getting into a shooting engagement with a third party. Any brewing situation of that kind requires attention.

    1. Interesting position from an avowed conservative. Defense spending is over $700,000,000,000 in tax dollars, much of which’s 100%+ increase since 2000 is due (directly or indirectly) to an irrational suppport of whatever a tiny church-based state wants to do. Now you want to pay even more attention (presumably = spend yet more $).
      A better conservative approach would be to pressure Bibi into just apologizing for his murders and getting him to make up with his willing neighbors. We’ll all save our money.

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