The Turkish and US governments signed a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) on April 26/05 for the $1.1-billion modernization of 117 Turkish Air Force F-16s to a common avionics configuration. December 2006 saw a $635.1 million contract under that framework issued to Lockeed Martin.
The upgrade will create a common avionics configuration for the service’s fleet of F-16 Block 40 and 50 aircraft. More than 200 F-16 aircraft make up the backbone of Turkey’s current fighter fleet. Systems to be integrated on Turkey’s upgraded F-16s include:
* The AN/APG-69(V)9 radar that is currently being installed on new F-16 Advanced Block 50/52 aircraft
* Color cockpit displays
* The Modular Mission Computer and new avionics processors
* The Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS)
* The Link 16 datalink
* New identification-friend-or-foe (IFF) transponders
* AN/AVS-9 night-vision goggles
* Upgraded navigation systems; and
* BAE Systems’ AN/ALQ-178(V)5+ electronic-warfare (EW) system, mounted internally, with radar-warning and jamming capabilities for aircraft self-protection
The aircraft will also be modified to accept new missile systems of unspecified types; some potential candidates include the AIM-9X Sidewinder, AIM-120 AMRAAM, and MBDA Meteor.
The deal will be conducted under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, with Lockheed Martin in Ft. Worth, TX serving as principle contractor, although the actual modification of the aircraft will be performed by TUSAS Aerospace Industries in Ankara, Turkey. TUSAS is currently the focus of a Turkish defense industry consolidation plan sponsored by the Turkish government.
In all probability, this program’s cost and scope will end Turkish inquiries concerning the Eurofighter Typhoon as a bridge between its current F-16 fleet and the J-35 Joint Strike Fighter scheduled to arrive around 2015. Turkey had also been complaining about levels of local work share and technology transfer in a number of defense deals with the United States; presumably, the work done by TUSAS was enough to address this.
The joint statement also came immediately after Turkey’s Cabinet approved a long-standing U.S. request to allow the American military to fly more supplies into Iraq and Afghanistan from a strategic air base in southern Turkey. Incirlik, located on the outskirts of the southern city of Adana, is currently home to some 10 U.S. refueling aircraft used to support operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are about 1,400 U.S. airmen at the base.
The United States was seeking permission to establish an expanded logistics hub at Incirlik to be able to fly large civilian cargo flights to the base and redistribute the cargo to military aircraft bound for Afghanistan and Iraq. Washington was also asking for blanket clearance for all cargo flights. Turkey has insisted in the past that the United States had to get separate permission for each flight.
The Turkish decision on Incirlik was a step toward improving relations with the United States that were strained when Turkey refused to allow the 4th Infantry Division to invade Iraq from Turkish territory in March 2003. Erdogan’s Islamist government has also strained ties in other ways, but a 2011 decision to allow AN/TPY-2 ballistic missile tracking radars in Turkey, as part of NATO’s European Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense against Iran, appears to have opened more doors.
Contracts & Key Events
May 3/19: New AEASA radar for F-16? Aselsan introduced another new technology at the IDEF 19 in Istanbul, which started on April 30. The Turkish company showcased an active electronically scanned array (AESA) design that is being pitched for integration on the Turkish Air Force’s F-16 fleet. According to the company, the radar will be able to perform non-co-operative and automatic target recognition, while also featuring protection against radar frequency jamming, and has electronic support and electronic attack functions. Aselsan sees the radar competing with systems such as Northrop Grumman’s APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar on the domestic and export market.
March 26/19: New Nose Radar According to reports, Turkish defense company ASELSAN will equip Turkey’s F-16 with a new nose radar. The F-16 AESA Nose Radar Development Project was launched to meet the need for modernization of the radars of the F-16 aircraft in the Air Force Command inventory with new generation radars that have Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) antenna technology. Turkey acquired its first F-16 Fighting Falcons in the 80s. Last month, it was reported that the new electronics warfare system for the Turkish F-16s, the SPEWS-II developed by ASELSAN, had successfully completed tests and entered into use.
Oct 30/11: Turkish media report that the Obama administration has agreed in principle to transfer key F-16 software source code information to Turkey. This would let Turkey modify those codes themselves, if they wished to integrate locally-produced avionics and weapons. The deal reportedly involves around 50 pages of technical details defining the transfer, followed by US congressional approval.
Source code access would be more convenient for the Turks, and could be lucrative if some of the F-16 operators who already deal with Turkey for maintenance and modifications choose to purchase locally-designed weapons and modifications. It also acts as a form of partial insurance against any American support cutoff. Recent years have seen greater efforts by Turkey to develop its own equipment, and their SSM procurement agency has a project called Ozgur, which aims to develop:
“…an avionic suit [sic] solution and integrating that suit to a fighter A/C and by execution of integration and certification of a set of defined weapon systems including locally developed weapon systems… The developed solution will be integrated to a fighter and the certification of the whole system including weapon systems will be performed.”
Reports speculate that the source code transfer agreement may be connected to Turkey’s September 2011 agreement to emplace an AN/TPY-2 early warning radar near Diyarbakir in SE Turkey, facing Iran and linked to US Navy systems via Cooperative Engagement Capability. The radar is part of the US-led European Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense. Today’s Zaman.
Feb 11/11: SavunmaSanayi.net reports that Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is set to develop new indigenous modernization kits and mission computers. They’d be used as upgrades to all of the TuAF’s F-16s, and as a possible export to other countries. TRDEFENCE:
“Latest reports indicate that the companies have finalized their technical consultations with the MOD and industrial suppliers as of the end of January and the project has been given green light in order to equip Turkey’s vast fleet of F-16s with newly developed indigenous sensors and weapons such as Aselpod navigation and targeting system, various missiles and high-precision munitions produced and/or currently under development in Turkey… Hardware for the avionics upgrade will be exclusively manufactured by Aselsan, while TAI will tackle the development of millions of lines of highly specialized software.”
June 23/08: The USAF is modifying a firm fixed price contract with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics of Fort Worth, TX to update the current Peace Onyx III contract/baseline, which is a comprehensive hardware and software aircraft modernization to the Turkish Block 30 C/D, 40 C/D, and 50 C/D aircraft. This not-to-exceed $18 million effort supports foreign military sales to Turkey. At this time $9 million in FMS Funds has been obligated. The Aeronautical Systems Center, 312 AESG/PKA at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH manages the contract (FA8615-05-C-6002, PO 0021).
Sept 26/07: Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. received a $10 million order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) for the integration and test support for the Turkish Peace Onyx III F-16 Integration and Test Program for the Government of Turkey under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo. and is expected to be completed in December 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. is the contracting activity.
Dec 22/06: Lockheed Martin Corp., in Fort Worth, TX receives a $635.1 million firm-price-incentive contract modification for 216 modification kits that cover 76 F-16 Block 50s, 103 F-16 Block 40s, and 37 F-16 Block 30 aircraft for the Turkish Air Force (TuAF). The effort also includes flight testing, training, technical support and sustainment activities.
This contract continues work started under an initial contract signed in July 2005, based on an agreement signed between the governments of Turkey and the United States in April 2005; at this time, total funds have been obligated. Solicitations began May 2005, negotiations were complete November 2006, and work will be complete by February 2016. Work will occur primarily at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facility in Fort Worth, TX and at TUSAS Aerospace Industries in Ankara, Turkey. The Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contract (FA8615-05-C-6002/PZ00002).
* Turkish Aerospace Industries – PO III F-16 Modernization
* DID (Oct 2/06) – Turkey Orders 30 F-16C Block 50s etc. for $2.9B. This is a separate deal.
* DID (Oct 27/05) – Greek F-16 & Weapons Sale Clearing for Takeoff. Ah, rivalry…
* DID (Sept 9/05) – Turkey Requesting JSOWs to Go With Its Upgraded F-16s
* Turks.us (April 27/05) – Turkey, US Agree to Upgrade Turkey’s F-16 fleet