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Turkey to upgrade 117 F-16s

April 27, 2005 (by Fantasma337) - The governments of the United States and Turkey signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LoA) for the systems upgrade of Turkish F-16s at an estimated total value of $1.1 billion.

The first Greek F-16D block 52+ (#601) was temporarily based at Edwards AFB for pre-delivery testflights [LMTAS photo]

The upgrade program will create a robust, common avionics configuration for Turkey's fleets of F-16 block 40 and block 50 aircraft.

Lockheed Martin will modernise 117 of Turkey's F-16s, with an option for upgrading of another 100 planes. Work on upgrading the F-16s is to begin in July, with the project expected to be completed by 2012.

According to Turkish Defence Minister Vecdi Gönül the airforce plans to keep the F-16s in service for another 35 years.

"The upgrade program is based on a similar approach by the U.S. Air Force; therefore, much of the design and development effort has already been accomplished, and our task will be to address unique aspects of the Turkish configuration. Other countries have expressed interest in a similar upgrade package for their F-16s." said June Shrewsbury, vice president, F-16 programs.

The Turkish configuration being integrated consists of the APG-68(V)9 multimode radar (currently being installed on new Advanced block 50/52 F-16s), color cockpit displays and recorders, new core avionics processors, the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System, Link 16 data link, advanced interrogator/transponder, integrated precision navigation, a unique electronic warfare system, and compatibility with a number of new weapons and targeting systems.

"The F-16 upgrade is extremely important to Turkey," said Shrewsbury. "The new capabilities will ensure their F-16s remain world-class fighters for many more years. The commonality with the F-16s of the USAF and other allies allows for interoperability in coalition operations as well as logistics advantages. This upgrade also provides a large growth potential, which will allow additional capabilities to be integrated through software changes in conjunction with other F-16 users. Finally, the aircraft modifications are being performed by TUSAS Aerospace Industries, which will help sustain the Turkish industrial base."

The estimated LoA value includes components provided by the worldwide F-16 supplier team. The estimated value of Lockheed Martin's portion is about $800 million, and tasks include the development effort, kit accumulation, technical assistance for kit installation, upgrades to pilot training systems, logistics support and training. Kit installation will be performed by TUSAS Aerospace Industries (by separate agreement) with technical assistance from Lockheed Martin.

This program, titled Peace Onyx III, is being processed as a Foreign Military Sales program through the U.S. government and follows Peace Onyx I (160 new F-16s in late 1980s to mid-1990s) and Peace Onyx II (80 new F-16s in late 1990s). The LOA signature clears the way for contract negotiations to begin with the industry participants. The long-lead contract with Lockheed Martin is expected to be signed in July.

The agreement also envisages offset deals and sub-contracts to be handed out to Turkish companies, worth about 400 million dollars, he said.

The agreement follows unprecedented tensions in bilateral ties since the US-led attack on Iraq, Turkey's southern neighbor, in March 2003.

Ankara stunned Washington in March 2003, just before the invasion, when its parliament rejected a US request to use Turkish territory for a planned thrust into Iraq from the north.

The United States request for the use of Incirlik Air Base has however been approved by Turkey's Cabinet on Monday, after months of delay.

Incirlik, located on the outskirts of the southern city of Adana, is currently home to some 10 U.S. refueling aircraft used to support operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are about 1,400 U.S. airmen at the base.

Additional images:

Four Turkish vipers are on the runway at Bandirma AB ready to roll. [Photo by Görkem Erbilgin]

All navigation lights are functioning on this Turkish viper of the 162nd Filo on June 16th, 2004. [Photo by Görkem Erbilgin]