Oct 21, 2013
Turkey To Reissue F-35 Order
The Defense Industry Executive Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is the ultimate decision-maker on procurement.
Ankara cited rising costs and technological issues for its Jan. 10 decision to postpone an order to purchase its first two F-35 fighter jets.
But top procurement officials admitted at that time that there was a “certain degree of psychological deliberation at work, too.” Turkey did not want to “stand alone in the dark’’ on the program, said an official.
After the initial purchase of the two jets, Turkey plans to order 100 stealth fighters to replace its F-4 Phantoms and F-16 Fighting Falcons. Bayar said Turkey remains committed to the full acquisition.
Turkey is one of nine countries that are part of a US-led consortium to build the F-35 fighter. The others are Britain, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Norway and Denmark.
Turkey announced in March 2011 that it was placing its order for 100 jets on hold due to US refusal to provide adequate access to the aircraft’s source codes. Ankara said negotiations for access to the codes, including codes that can be used to control the aircraft remotely, had not yielded satisfactory results, and under these conditions, Turkey could not accept the aircraft. The issue remains unresolved.
Meanwhile, Turkey is satisfied with mentoring services it receives from Saab, maker of the JAS 39 Gripen, for an ambitious Turkish program that foresees the design, development and production of what Turks claim will be the country’s first indigenous fighter jet.
Saab has been assisting TF-X under a deal that oversees “pre-conceptual design” for the program.
According to a draft plan, Turkey is aiming for a maiden flight for its national fighter jet in 2023. Production would commence in 2021, and deliveries to the Air Force are planned between 2025 and 2035. The aircraft would remain in service until 2060.
For its fighter program, Turkey hopes to copy the method devised to co-produce T-129 attack helicopters with Italian-British AgustaWestland. ■