Turkey Signs F-35 Production MoU
A recent DID article covering the Eurofighter consortium’s offer to Turkey had noted that a key Defense Industry Executive Committee meeting on January 12, 2007 would determine that country’s continued involvement in the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program. That decision was positive, and on January 25, 2007, Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) covering Turkey’s involvement in the F-35 production process. While final details have not yet been worked out, these signatures of commitment will help determine the full array of industrial partners who will be part of a production and maintenance program that’s likely to span up to 3,000 aircraft. Signatories to date include Australia, Britain, Canada, and The Netherlands. During Turkey’s signing ceremony, US Deputy SecDef Gordon England was quoted as saying that “the three remaining partners – Italy, Norway, and Denmark – will all likely sign by the end of February.”
Zaman adds that Minister Gonul was asked about the Eurofighter, and replied that Turkey had decided to buy around 30 F-16 planes instead. See DID’s coverage of Turkey’s ongoing $1.1 billion F-16 fleet upgrade and its $2.9 billion F-16C/D fleet expansion program. See also DefenseLINK release | Today’s Zaman article | Turkish Daily News article.
Turkey is expected to buy about 100 F-35A “CTOL/Air Force versions” over the next 15-20 years; they are expected to begin arriving in Turkey around 2014 to begin replacing the TuAF’s Vietnam-era F-4E Phantom IIs, and eventually its F-16 A/Bs as well. Today’s Zaman newspaper adds that “a big portion of the $11 billion that Turkey will pay for the planes is expected to return to Turkey through sub-contracts given to the Turkish defense industry for production of the planes.” This may be challenging given the low competitiveness of Turkish industry thus far in the project.