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First Turkish satellite to be launched in 2012-PM

Satellite to reduce dependence on U.S. intelligence.

October 5, 2010 2:39 by

Turkey plans to launch its first intelligence gathering satellite into space in 2012, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

The satellite will ease Turkey’s reliance on U.S. intelligence in its operations against the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which launches attacks on Turkish military targets from bases in northern Iraq.

“We will launch the Gokturk intelligence satellite in 2012,” Erdogan told members of his party in comments televised live.

Turkey has used Washington’s intelligence to boost the effectiveness of its operations against the PKK in mountainous Iraqi Kurdistan, targeting the guerrilla’s headquarters and training facilities in cross-border raids.

Some 40,000 people have died in the conflict since 1984, when the PKK took up arms to carve out an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey. A current unilateral truce, initiated in August, by the PKK has recently eased violence.

The Gokturk satellite is being developed by Turkish defence contractor Aselsan and Finmeccanica’s unit Telespazio.

The satellite, expected to cost around 250 million euros ($344 million), will provide high resolution imagery to trace movement of objects less than one square metre.

The satellite will also be used to track down narcotics and human trafficking across Turkish territory.

(Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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