December 12, 2012 (by Asif Shamim) - The last F-16 block 50+ produced by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and Lockheed Martin as part of the Peace Onyx IV Joint Program was delivered to the Turkish Air Force yesterday.
TuAF F-16D block 50 #07-1030 the final block 50 from the Peace Onyx IV program is seen during its delivery ceremony on December 11th, 2012 at the TAI's facilites in Ankara. [TAI photo]
In a speech at the F-16 delivery ceremony, Özcan Ertem, TAI’s Aircraft Group head, stressed how special and important the F-16's production had been and that the program was successfully completed ahead of the deadline schedule with the delivery of the 308th F-16 jet.
Attending the ceremony on behalf of Lockheed Martin was Jeff Babione, Vice President of the F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group, who thanked the TAI employees for their hard work and dedication while working this project.
"I thank everyone who worked on this magnificent project, in the hope that our strong cooperation with TAI that started in 1984 will continue," he said.
Serdar Demirel, deputy undersecretary at Turkey
’s Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM
), went onto thank U.S. and Turkish officials, as well as Lockheed Martin and TAI employees, who contributed to the F-16 project.
Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) was established in 1984 and Turkey initiated to produce fighter aircraft locally under license, including a total of 232 F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft for the Turkish air forces. The air force had previously received 8 F-16s that were purchased directly from the United States, bringing the total number of F-16s received by the air force to 240. TAI is currently building 30 new F-16 block 50
+ aircraft for the TUAF
and is applying a CCIP
upgrade on the existing fleet of F-16s, which will bring all of them to the Block 50+ standard.
A total of 46 TAI-built F-16s have been exported to the Egyptian Air Force under the Peace Vector IV Program (1993–1995), making it TAI’s second-largest F-16 customer after the Turkish Air Force. Turkey is one of only five countries in the world which locally produce the F-16 Fighting Falcon.