May 11, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Turkey signed a $1.78 billion deal today to buy 30 F-16 Fighting Falcons from Lockheed Martin.
Under the deal, part of a wider program to modernise NATO
's military, the aircraft will be produced, assembled and tested by Turkish aerospace firm Tusas in Ankara. Turkish Engine Industries (TEI) will be conducting the assembly, test and delivery of 42 F110 turbofan engines in Eskişehir.
There were some disagreements earlier on over the price and delivery schedule of the F-16s and over operational restrictions the US imposed on the use of the jets. (see below for related articles)
Turkey's current F-16s were co-produced by Tusas Aerospace Industries in the 1980s and 1990s under two agreements with Lockheed Martin.
F-16 block 50
+ model has a superior capability over the existing block 50s, including a modern mission computer, an extended range with a pair of conventional fuel tanks and increased lethality.
The new aircraft will be delivered starting by mid-2011 and ending by 2012. As a continuation of the previous F-16 programs, this sale is named Peace Onyx 4 Programs.
Turkey plans to buy the F-35 Lightning II
as its next-generation fighter, and expects to spend nearly $10.7 billion for 100 aircraft over the next 20 years. Under current plans, F-35 deliveries to Turkey should start in 2014. As a stop-gap solution until then, Ankara last year decided to buy 30 advanced F-16 block 50 multi-role fighters.
Last year, Turkey and Lockheed Martin signed a deal modernize at least 117 of their older F-16s, with an option for the upgrade of another 100 platforms.
The US Congress approved earlier this year the sale of the aircraft as well as associated equipment and services under Foreign Military Sale (FMS
) credit to Turkey.