According to this article,

the old U.S. system ... automatically identified all Israeli targets as a "friend," preventing Turkish fighter jets from firing at them, even if Turkish pilots were ordered to do so.

and the Turks have to develop some kind of a hack "technology" in order to override it.

I also heard similar assertion for US fighters sold to Arab nations like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Is this true? I find it weird that those countries spent billions on aircraft that will be useless in a potential conflict against the most powerful air force and one of the most powerful military in the region, whom some of them have fought several wars against.

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    Not really an answer, but: Haaretz is a real newspaper, so something resembling a reliable source. But it's article is quoting an Iranian news agency, so not a very reliable original source. I've been unable to find a reputable news agency to confirm it. – DJClayworth Sep 13 '11 at 20:37
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    Avionics do not allow a total override of a weapon system as these articles claim. As someone who not only designs aircraft avionics, but also flew military aircraft, I can state this with certainty. It's such a silly claim that I will barely dignify it with any research, hence it's not an answer, just a comment. It is purely propaganda and headline generation, nothing more... – Larian LeQuella Sep 14 '11 at 3:07
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    @Larian It might not be a trivial to do, but I think with sufficient software skills and hacks, any software-based system can be overridden.. That's why the article call it a "new technology", not just a simple adjustment. But I think this is off-topic, since the OP asked about whether there is a restriction in the first place, not whether the Turks overrode it – Louis Rhys Sep 14 '11 at 5:46
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    @Larian Once again, I find myself applauding your sanity. – Monkey Tuesday Sep 14 '11 at 6:14
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    @jwenting - If the US sold aircraft that seriptiously included hardware and software that would prevent their use against potential enemies of the purchaser then we could be in violation of the treaty. As such any information about a knowing violation would probably be classified. Anyone with real knowledge of such activity that outed it would be guilty of treason. I was not trying to suggest that Turkey was wrong for trying to alter the planes. Simply that any real evidence is likely not going to be available even if this is real. – Chad Sep 15 '11 at 13:45

Avionics do not allow a total override of a weapon system as these articles claim. As someone who not only designs aircraft avionics, but also flew military aircraft, I can state this with certainty. It's a silly claim. It is purely propaganda and headline generation, nothing more.

If such technology existed, don't you think that it would have been used to prevent the numerous instances of friendly fire deaths that the US has experienced? Wikipedia has a nice list of such events (I'll start it at 1991 to keep it with recent history), and you'll see that many are aircraft related.

The one incident that really stands out in this list is:

In the 1994 Black Hawk shootdown incident, two U.S. Air Force F-15Cs involved with Operation Provide Comfort shot down two U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawks over northern Iraq, killing 29 military and civilian personnel.

Another instance is:

US Patriot missile batteries fired two missiles on a US Navy F/A-18C Hornet 50 mi (80 km) from Karbala, Iraq. One missile hit the aircraft of pilot Lieutenant Nathan Dennis White of VFA-195, Carrier Air Wing Five, killing him. This was the result of the missile design flaw in identifying hostile aircraft

To further put this insane conspiracy to rest, keep in mind that whenever a nation buys sophisticated equipment, they perform operational tests on it. Any inherent flaws would be quickly discovered in a thorough test program. And many of the scientists, engineers, and military officers of these nations are taught and trained in the US, so they are not exactly what you would call incompetent.

  • While operational tests could detect if systems were physically inaccurate, would the operational tests be able to detect that Israeli targets are regarded as "friend"? – Andrew Grimm Jan 30 '12 at 11:03
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    @AndrewGrimm There is no mechanism from preventing a shot at an aircraft designated as friend. That doesn't matter to the missile or targeting system. Also, IFF codes are loaded independently of the electronics and circuits. If they discover that all Israeli craft are designated as friend somehow, it's as simple as flipping a switch to ignore that designation. – Larian LeQuella Jan 30 '12 at 11:32
  • The US won't even give the UK their IFF system, so UK troops don't identify as friend. I doubt they would give Israel the IFF system. – Nick Aug 9 '12 at 15:22
  • @Nick CITATION NEEDED! Having flown with many UK pilots on many missions, and even helped generate the ATO side by side with British Officers, you may be speaking of a different system, but it's certainly not IFF. Heck, UK forces have access to SAASM technology, which is much more sensitive. – Larian LeQuella Aug 10 '12 at 2:40
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    @Nick first of all, wikipedia. And I take it you are unfamiliar with a technology called "Blue Force Tracker". Although, this particular question was specific to aircraft, which is the KIV-78 (I think, going by memory), which used Mode 4 (and sometimes 5) which all coalition aircraft have access to. – Larian LeQuella Aug 10 '12 at 16:40

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