More than 200 F-16 aircraft currently make up the backbone of Turkey’s current fighter fleet. On Sept 28/06, the US DSCA (Defense Security Cooperation Agency) notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Turkey of 30 more F-16C Block 50 aircraft, as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $2.9 billion. This sale is in addition to Turkey’s billion-dollar upgrade program for its existing F-16 fleet, which aims to bring all of its aircraft to a common configuration.
Turkey is one of 5 countries that has built F-16s locally (USA, Belgium, Netherlands, South Korea, Turkey), and the final Turkish F-16 under this contract will be delivered in 2013. This article will cover the deal, as its component contracts and agreements come together.
Turkey’s rival Greece recently bought 30 F-16 Block 50/52 Plus aircraft, but the Hellenic Air Force passed on the option for an additional 10 F-16s, and delayed consideration of new fighters beyond 2011. Turkey joined the F-35’s production planning phase in 2007, and is moving ahead with its F-16 fleet expansion plans.
It’s also looking to ‘nationalize’ that fleet. Reports in February and October 2011 indicated that Turkey is undertaking internal and external deals to bring almost all aspects of F-16 production, maintenance, and modification within its reach. TAI has re-opened its F-16 finishing line for the Peace Onyx IV buy, and already performs in-depth maintenance and upgrade for the TuAF and other countries. The biggest step forward in that process would be access to the F-16’s software source codes, which is reportedly the subject of an agreement with the USA.
Turkey’s 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.”
Source code access would be more convenient for the Turks. It could also be lucrative, if some of the F-16 operators who already deal with Turkey for maintenance and modifications choose to purchase Turkish weapons and modifications. Recent years have seen greater efforts to develop its own equipment.
When added to Turkey’s existing industrial capabilities, source code access could also serve as a partial form of insurance against damage to their American alliance. It would allow substitutions of local equipment for American-supplied gear as necessary, in a country that can already assemble and maintain the aircraft. That confers a great deal of independence.
It wouldn’t be complete insurance, because Turkey can’t produce the F-16’s engines. After the Tienanmen Square massacre led to a cutoff of American military cooperation, the Chinese found themselves in this boat with their J-10. They engineered a switch from American to Russian propulsion, but their different weights and characteristics affected the aircraft’s whole design. Redesign into the modern J-10 took more than a decade – even with complete access to their fighter’s design and source codes.
Contracts and Key Events
2011 – 2012
From first to final rollout.
Dec 13/12: Final rollout. Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc. (TAI) and Lockheed Martin unveil the 30th and last Turkish-built F-16 at a ceremony held at TAI’s facilities in Ankara. The F-16D Block 50 will be delivered to the TuAF later this month.
This is more than the end of a deal, because Turkey’s next fighters won’t be F-16s. Turkish F-16 production and major support/ refurbishment projects have been going on for 25 years now. In many ways, this is the end of an era. TAI.
Oct 30/11: Turkish media report that the Obama administration has agreed in principle to transfer key information concerning F-16 software source codes 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.
Reports speculate that the source code transfer 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.
May 23/11: 1st rollout. Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc. (TAI) and Lockheed Martin unveil the first of 30 new Turkish-built F-16 Block 50 fighters, in ceremonies today at TAI’s facility near Ankara. The delivery is early – it was supposed to happen in July. Lockheed Martin | TAI.
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.”
2006 – 2009
Official request. HUDs; sniper pods; ECM.
Dec 24/09: HUDs. Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, TX receives a $7.2 million contract to incorporate Engineering Change Proposal 2746 and buy 35 wide angle raster heads up display (HUD) units for Turkey’s most recent “Peace Onyx IV” order of F-16 aircraft. At this time, the entire amount has been committed under management of the 312th AES/SYK at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH (FA8615-07-C-6034).
Dec 11/09: Sniper pods. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Orlando FL receives a $118.3 million contract from Turkey for AN/AAQ-33 Sniper ATP and 3rd generation AN/AAQ-13 low altitude navigation and targeting infrared for night (LANTIRN ER) pods. At this time, $59.1 million was obligated. The 448 SMG/PKHCB at Robins Air Force Base, GA manages this contract on Turkey’s behalf (FA8522-10-C-0002). See also FedBizOpps announcement.
The Sept 29/08 DSCA request, listed below, was for 30 Sniper ATP and 30 LANTIRN pods. The new LANTIRN ER navigation pods are upgraded versions that include terrain-following radar, a 3rd generation mid-wave FLIR, enhanced image signal processing and increased image quality, and design improvements to reduce cost of ownership. See also Lockheed Martin release.
July 22/09: ECM. ITT Corporation announces that its AIDEWS system has successfully completed software development activities, as proven by successful completion of the Design Verification Test (DVT), and subsequent acceptance of the final Operational Flight Program by the USAF.
The hardware development was already complete, and AIDEWS systems have been delivered since 2005, to “multiple F-16 international customers,” with an initial software version designed for pilot familiarization and training. This final software version is being formally released by the U.S. Air Force, in preparation for retrofit installs to existing F-16 international customers beginning in early 2010.
Feb 27/09: ECM. ITT Corporation announces that it has has won a $99.8 million competitive award to supply its AIDEWS advanced electronic warfare systems and linked countermeasures dispensers for the Turkish Air Force’s 30 new F-16 Block 50Ms. Under the contract, ITT will modify the Turkish Air Force mission systems and deliver associated spares, support equipment, training, engineering services, and data.
AIDEWS (AN/ALQ-211v4) has already been integrated into F-16s flown by Chile, Oman, Pakistan, and Poland. This contract is managed through Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base, GA, and delivery of the systems will begin in 2010. See ALQ-211 family datasheet [PDF].
Feb 25/09: Main tranche. Lockheed Martin Corp. of Fort Worth, TX receives a $797.1 million contract modification to provide 14 F-16C and 16 F-16D Block 50 aircraft to the Government of Turkey. This would be added to the $186.9 million contract for long-lead items, bringing the announced total to $984 million of the $1.1 billion referenced in the Letter of Offer and Acceptance. The overall purchase will involve a total of $1.8 billion.
At this time, $682.2 million of the announced $797.1 million in Foreign Military Sales funds has been committed. The 312 AESG/SYKA at Wright-Patterson AFB manages the contract (FA8615-07-C-6034, PZ0005).
Feb 23/09: General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products announces a 5-year, $39 contract from Lockheed Martin for F-16 Ammunition Handling Systems (AHS). The initial order is $8.9 million, covering guns that will equip Turkey’s 30 new F-16C/D Block 50s, and Morocco’s 24 new F-16C/D Block 52s. Final assembly will be performed at GDATP’s Saco Operations facility in Saco, Maine, with testing and program management performed at the company’s Burlington Technology Center in Burlington, VT. Deliveries will begin in April 2010.
The General Dynamics F-16 Ammunition Handling System utilizes a closed-loop, linkless feed system, giving it greater ammunition capacity than previous designs and eliminating potential damage from ejected ammunition casings. The system is combined with GDATP’s M61A1 20mm Gatling gun.
Sept 29/08: The US DSCA announces [PDF] Turkey’s official request to buy 30 AN/ Sniper Extended Range Targeting Pods, and 30 AN/AAQ-13 LANTIRN Extended Range Navigation Pods. Turkey would also receive containers, flight tests, integration, digital cartridge interface, spare and repair parts, and other forms of support.
While the pods were not mentioned in the original DSCA request, the numbers strongly suggest a connection with the new F-16s. The estimated cost is $200 million, and Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control Company in Orlando, FL will be the prime contractor. While Turkey is a Muslim country, its defense forces are regular customers for Israeli equipment; unlike Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, therefore, RAFAEL/Northrop Grumman’s LITENING surveillance and targeting pods would have been a competitive possibility.
Implementation of this proposed sale may require the assignment of U.S. Government and contractor representatives to Turkey for integration efforts, and the purchase will require U.S. government and contractor personnel for conduct annual, one-week Program Management Reviews in Turkey. See also StrategyPage, who discusses the pods’ importance and potential uses, but is likely to be off on the implied delivery timing. These things usually take longer than some of the short-term missions they suggest.
DSCA Request: Sniper pods
Feb 29/08: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics of Fort Worth, TX received a contract for $6.2 million as part of Turkey’s buy of 30 F-16 aircraft. This is a foreign military sales procurement to incorporate items included in the May 2007 Letter of Offer and Acceptance’s (LOA) amendment 1. At this time $4.7 million has been obligated. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contract (FA8615-07-C-6043 P00003).
Dec 7/07: Radars. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., of Linthicum Heights, MD received an indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity and firm-fixed price contract for $730 million covering up to 54 AN/APG-68v9 radar systems. These radars are standard in F-16 C/D aircraft.
The first delivery order under the contract covers 30 radar systems for the government of Turkey, which will be accomplished under the firm fixed price portion of the contract and obligate $36 million as an initial payment. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH holds the contract (FA8615-08-D-6035, D001).
July 27/07: Lead-in buy. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Fort Worth, TX received a firm-fixed-price contract for $186.9 million “for the purchase of thirty (30) F-16 Block 50 aircraft, along with associated support equipment, alternative mission equipment, and support elements for the Government of Turkey’s Under Secretarial for Defense Industries for the Peace Onyx IV F-16 Block 50 Aircraft Procurement Program.” This effort supports foreign military sales to Turkey. At this time, $110.1 million has been obligated.
Discussions with Lockheed reveal that the DefenseLINK wording is misleading. The contract covers only long-lead items, parts/equipment that require a longer time to acquire; the rest of the contracts will be finalized over the next 12-18 month under the arrangements set out in the May 2007 LOA. Solicitations began April 2007, negotiations were completed in July 2007, and work will be complete January 2009. The Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contract (FA8615-07-C-6034). See also Lockheed Martin’s subsequent release.
May 11/07: contract. Lockheed Martin announces that the governments of Turkey and the United States have signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) for the sale of 30 additional F-16 Block 50 aircraft to Turkey. The new aircraft include the same systems being installed on Turkey’s existing F-16 fleet as part of an on-going upgrade program. At the conclusion of these 2 programs, therefore, all Turkish F-16s will be in a common, advanced configuration.
The total LOA value for the 30 aircraft and equipment is approximately $1.8 billion; Lockheed Martin and its supplier base will receive approximately $1.1 billion of this amount. Final assembly and delivery of the aircraft will be performed at TUSAS Aerospace Industries (TAI) in Turkey, furthering the longstanding business relationship between Lockheed Martin and TAI. This marks the 52nd follow-on buy of F-16s, by 14 repeat customers. Over 4,300 F-16s have been delivered to 24 nations. Lockheed Martin release.
Sept 28/06: The DSCA notifies Congress that the Government of Turkey has requested new F-16s, along with system integration and testing, software development/integration, test sets and support equipment, simulation units, link pods, spare and repair parts, publications and technical data, maintenance, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor representatives’ program support services, contractor engineering and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics support.
Requested items include:
* 30 Lockheed Martin Advanced F-16C Block 50 Aircraft;
* 32 Northrop Grumman AN/APG-68v9 Radars;
* 42 General Electric F110-129 Engines;
* 60 LAU-129A Launchers – these will handle both AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles;
* 36 VSI Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System that puts the heads-up display right in the pilot’s helmet;
* 36 MIDS-LVT (Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Low Volume Terminals) Link 16 terminals;
* 3 Link-16 Ground Stations; and
* 35 of BAE Systems AN/APX-113 Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF);
* 36 of ITT Industries’ AN/ALQ-211 Airborne Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suites or BAE Systems’ AN/ALQ-178 Self Protection Electronic Warfare Suites (ITT’s AIDEWS won).
See full DSCA release [PDF].
DSCA Request: 30 F-16s
* DID – $1.1B to Upgrade Turkish F-16 fleet. Companion program, with the goal of bringing the fleet to a common standard.