ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey will decide on the date for receiving its very first F-35 fighter jets next year, says the country’s top army procurement body, which is unsatisfied with the development of the project and the costs
An F-35B is seen touching down at US Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. Many countries in the joint F-35 development program are considering delaying their orders, mainly due to cost concerns. AP photo
Turkey has joined a “concern club” about a U.S.-led F-35 fighter jet development program with the Undersecretariat of Defense Industry (SSM) delaying to an unknown date the very first order for the aircraft it had placed last year.
Turkey, a member of the consortium that also includes Britain, Canada, Australia, Italy, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands, will reconsider the date for the order of two jets next year, the SSM said in a statement, citing concerns over poor development of the jet’s capacity to maneuver and an increase in costs due to delays in orders by the U.S. and other partners.
“Furthermore the results of talks with the U.S. government and main contractor Lockheed Martin in 2012 are being reconsidered,” the statement read.
The decision was made at the Jan. 3 meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Committee, the country’s top defense procurement body, which includes Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and Procurement Chief Murad Bayar, it said.
“Turkey will continue its activities in the JSF [Joint Strike Force] program, in which it is a participating member, and projects to have 100 F-35A planes, as had been planned.
After 2020 Turkey is also planning to design, develop and produce another fighter plane to eliminate the JSF’s deficiencies either by itself, or through a partner, most likely South Korea.
Canada scrapped in December last year a controversial sole-source plan to buy F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin Corp., saying it would now evaluate all available options for acquiring new fighters.
The announcement was a new challenge for the F-35, which has been hit by cost overruns and delays and at $396 billion is the costliest program in Pentagon procurement history.
The Pentagon will pay about 4 percent less for each new Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35A fighter jet when it signs a deal worth $3.8 billion with the top U.S. defense contractor, Reuters quoted sources familiar with the deal as saying in December. This was before a large budget cut by the Pentagon.
Australia has already delayed its F-35 order and nations like Italy and the Netherlands have said they will also.