The Turkish Ministry of National Defence is expected to place orders for the first F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) jets from 2015 onwards.
Turkey state-run defense industries undersecretary Murad Bayar was quoted by Reuters as saying that the country will start F-35 orders either this year or the next.
"We will initially order two. The delivery time will be, depending on the orders, probably in 2017-2018," Bayar said.
Turkey, which serves as Level 3 partner for the fifth-generation fighter development, had already announced plans to acquire 100 F-35s at a cost of $16bn amid concerns about the programme delays and increasing cost, in February 2012.
The aircraft deliveries are expected to be completed within the next ten years, according to Bayar.
The multi-purpose F-35 fighters are being manufactured by Lockheed Martin, in three versions, namely a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant for the US and allied air forces, a short take-off and landing (STOVL) fighter for the US Marine Corps (USMC) and the Royal Navy and a carrier version (CV) for the US Navy.
Designed to conduct ground attack, reconnaissance and air defence missions with stealth capability, the fighter will replace USAF’s A-10 and F-16, the US Navy’s F/A-18, USMC’s F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier, and fighter aircraft of at least ten international countries.
Principally financed by the US, the JSF programme also receives additional funding from the UK and seven international partners, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and Turkey.
Image: An F-35A CTOL aircraft during its inauguration ceremony. Photo: courtesy of X360.