The Turkish Under-secretary for Defense Industries (SSM) has been authorised by the Defense Industry Executive Committee (SSIK) to place an order for the first two F-35 Lightning II joint strike-fighter (JSF) aircraft.
The two block-3F configuration F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) fighters are scheduled to be supplied by Lockheed Martin, as part of a lot 10 low-rate initial production (LRIP) contract.
In a statement, the SSM said that Turkey has closely followed the JSF programme, and ‘continues her forecast of the acquisition of 100 F-35A aircraft as planned and declared previously’.
Following a comprehensive evaluation of the current situation in the JSF programme, the SSM has also been tasked to perform necessary activities for the establishment of the final assembly and check-out (FACO) line and depot level maintenance centre for F135 engines, within the Turkish local industry and Turkish Air Force structure.
Turkey had originally ordered two F-35 aircraft in January 2012 but postponed the purchase a year later, citing delays and cost growth within the F-35 programme, IHS Janes reported.
Approximately $16bn is expected to be paid by Turkey for 100 F35A jets, as part of the system development and demonstration (SDD) phase of the JSF programme, according to the news agency.
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The LRIP 10 contract will be awarded in 2016, while delivery is scheduled to take place in 2018.
Currently under development in three versions, the F-35 JSF is a fifth-generation multi-role fighter aircraft designed to conduct an array of ground attack, reconnaissance and air defence missions with stealth capability.
The variants include a CTOL aircraft for the US and allied air forces, a short takeoff and landing (STOVL) fighter for the US Marine Corps (USMC) and the Royal Navy, and a carrier version (CV) for the US Navy.
Image: Turkey plans to order a total of 100 F-35A joint strike fighters. Photo: courtesy of X360.