December 27, 2006 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The U.S. government awarded a $635 million contract to Lockheed Martin for the upgrade of Turkey's fleet of F-16 fighter jets.
The work will be done mostly at Lockheed's facility in Fort Worth and Tusas Aerospace Industries in Ankara, Turkey
Under the contract, which runs untill 2016, Lockheed will supply 216 modernization kits to upgrade F-16s operated by the Turkish air force and to provide testing and training help.
The contract continues work that began under a contract from July 2005, which followed an agreement between the two governments earlier last year.
Systems to be integrated on Turkey's upgraded F-16s include the AN/APG-69(V)9 radar that is currently being installed on new F-16 advanced block 50/52 aircraft, upgraded navigation systems and BAE
Systems' AN/ALQ-178(V)5+ electronic-warfare (EW) system, mounted internally, with radar warning and jamming capabilities for aircraft self-protection.
The aircraft will also be modified to be able to carry missile systems of unspecified types. Some potential candidates include the AIM-9X Sidewinder
, AIM-120 AMRAAM
and MBDA Meteor.
Earlier this year, US Congress approved the sale of 30 advanced F-16C block 50s to Turkey as well as associated equipment and services.
Turkey also approved a production agreement for 100 F-35 Lightning IIs to meet the need of new generation fighter jets.
Turkey will participate in the manufacturing of F-35s which will be produced by nine countries led by Lockheed Martin in a USD 10 billion project for about 20 years.
F-35s are expected to be delivered to Turkey starting 2014. Turkey is set to purchase 30 new F-16 block 50
jets to meet the additional need until that time.