Turkish-American F-35 engine production facility inaugurated in İzmir
Turkish President Abdullah Gül (C) delivers a speech before cutting ribbon to celebrate inauguration of new engine plant of Kale Pratt & Whitney in Aegean province of İzmir on June 6.Kale Pratt & Whitney, a joint venture of American aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney and Turkish aviation company Kale, has inaugurated its new engine factory in the Aegean province of İzmir, where the most critical engine parts of F-35 fighter jets will be manufactured.
The parts of the F-135 engine of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighters will manufactured, assembled and repaired at the plant, the opening of which has been marked with a ceremony attended by President Abdullah Gül, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz and company managers.
With the aim of producing fuselage parts for the new generation fighters, Kale and Pratt & Whitney established a 51 to 49 percent partnership three years ago.
The first stage of the factory, which cost around $75 million, has been recently completed in the Aegean free trade site and around 700 people are planned to be employed.
“We are not opening an ordinary industrial plant,” President Gül said. “We are talking about a manufacturing a product with very delicate standards that passed all safety tests.”
“For Turkey, such types of industrial production mean a rise in standards and becoming more advanced,” he added.
Turkey has been one of the nine partners of the Joint-Strike Fighter program to develop three models of the plane since 1999, and has taken part in different stages of the project.
The United States and its allies plan to buy more than 3,100 F-35s in the coming years to replace aging F-16s, F/A-18s and other warplanes.
On May 5, Turkey also placed an order for the first two F-35 jets of a fleet of 100 F-35A aircraft.
It also declared that its commitment to the program was “strong as ever,” despite the program - the Pentagon’s most expensive arms development project - which is about 70 percent over budget and years behind schedule, being plagued by technical problems.
Gül also said the investment would pave the way for Turkey’s development in producing indigenous parts.
“I believe this facility will grow, the number of parts produced here will increase and they will be used for the planes that Turkey will design and manufacture by itself, as well as other vehicles that include high technology,” he said.
The head of Kale Group’s technical team, Osman Okyay, backed the president in his speech, pledging to take part in Turkey’s “innovative growth” process in the upcoming years.
For his part, Pratt & Whitney Military Engines Group head Bennett Croswell said the American company was “pleased to find a business partner that can provide high quality parts at a reasonable cost.” “This investment fits to our global vision and growth strategy,” he added.