Sunday, January 23, 2011

Problems Persist With F-35 Tuekey To Produce Fighter Its Own Fighter Jets

Turkey is seriously reconsidering the myriad agreements it has signed with the US, as well as its participation in an international consortium for the procurement of new generation fighter jets, due to rising costs and persisting problems originating from the American side.

Turkey is now seeking new ways to sidestep difficulties in the procurement of F-16 fighter planes, which it has been jointly producing with the US since 1987, due to the delayed delivery by the US authorities of some of the plane’s parts and accessories. There have been serious doubts as to whether Turkey’s plan to purchase 100 F-35 fighter planes would ever materialize, as the country is thinking about withdrawing from the consortium following the hike in costs that resulted from other countries leaving from the consortium.

With 240 F-16s, Turkey has the third largest fleet of these fighter jets after the US and Israel. Turkey chose the F-16 to use in its air force in the early 1980s, and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAİ) was established soon after the decision. Between 1987 and 1995, TAİ assembled 152 planes in the first phase of the F-16 project. The second phase took place between 1995 and 1999, and 80 planes were assembled. Turkey received its first overseas order for F-16 planes in 1993 from the Egyptian air force and assembled 46 planes for them.

Recently TAI upgraded the first of 17 planes for Jordan’s air force within the context of a modernization program. Several Turkey-made planes have also been dispatched to Pakistan.

In total TAİ has assembled 278 F-16s since it first began operations in 1987. During production, 29 planes were produced with no mistakes and three of them were considered “perfect.” Considering that only nine F-16 planes are produced as perfect out of 4,000 fighter jets in the world, Turkey’s success is conspicuous.

Turkey suspended production of the F-16 in 2000, but these fighter jets still remain the backbone of the Turkish armed forces.

Strained ties delayed delivery of plane accessories

As the agreement between the US and Turkey expired in 2000, Turkey has continued to work with Israel in modernizing the F-16s. Turkey has attempted to compensate for several mistakes that occurred while working with the US through several deals with Israel. The fundamental problem was that the US did not hand the F-16s directly to the Turkish Air Forces and it required TAİ-made planes be tested in the US before the eventual delivery to the Turkish Air Forces.
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