Turkey plans on buying 100 F-35

Turkey plans on buying 100 F-35

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey plans on buying 100 F-35

A F-35 fighter jet is on display at the Singapore Airshow Feb 12. Turkey wants to purchase 100 of them, with a total worth of $16 billion, to revamp its air forces. AFP photo

Turkey is planning to purchase 100 multi-purpose F-35 jet fighters worth $16 billion, Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz has said, according to daily Milliyet.

The first two of the military aircraft will be delivered by 2015, he said. The decision to order two F-35s was made last month.

The multi-purpose F-35 fighter jets are being produced by the U.S.-based arms producer Lockheed Martin. Turkey became a member of the international F-35 consortium in 1999. Other partners of the consortium include Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Norway and Denmark.

The statement indicates that Turkey is insisting on proceeding with its plan to purchase 100 F-35s even as many other partner countries, including the United States, have backtracked on their purchase plans due to delays and incremental costs.

The Pentagon postponed the purchase of 139 F-35 fighter jets for five years, while Britain said the decision regarding the number of F-35s that the country would buy would be delayed until 2015. Italy last week said its F-35 orders would be scaled down by 30 percent.

The U.S. government plans to manufacture 2,443 F-35 fighter jets, according to a statement made to Turkey in 2012, Yılmaz said. “Purchase orders in the upcoming years regarding the [F-35 military aircraft] will be subsequently assessed depending upon the negotiations.”

Turkey has spent $315 million so far on three phases of the development of the F-35 fighter jets that the country is producing as part of the partnership, Yılmaz said.

Noting the incremental costs of the three phases, he said Turkey’s contract regarding its partnership in the consortium did not cover those costs. Aircraft supply costs would become clear after the aircraft order deal is signed, he said.

Negotiations on codes
Progress has also been made on negotiations with the United States over granting Turkey the permission to load war software, weapons and ammunition onto the aircraft independently, he said in a reply to a written question by İsmet Büyükataman, an opposition Nationalist Movement Party deputy.

Responding to claims that the U.S. would not sell the software and block the independent integration of weapons and ammunition, the minister said, “Negotiations regarding the independent loading of war software, weapons and ammunition to secure the independent deployment and maintenance of the F-35 in Turkey are continuing.”

Defense Industry Undersecretary Murad Bayar said last month Turkey and the U.S. were negotiating over flight codes for the two F-35 military planes.