May 23, 2011 (by Asif Shamim) - Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and Lockheed Martin unveiled the first of 30 new Turkish-built F-16s in ceremonies today at TAI's facility near Ankara.
TuAF F-16D block 50 #07-1015 is taking off from Cigli AB on June 6th, 2011 during the Turkish Air Force airshow. [Photo by Dirk A. Geerts]
The first jet is #07-1015
an F-16D block 50
Turkish officials at the event included the nation's Minister of National Defense, Vecdi Gonul; Under-secretary for Defense Industries Murad Bayar; Turkish Air Force Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Abidin Unal; General Manager of the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation Lt. Gen. (Retired) Hayrettin Uzun; and the Chairman of the Board of TAI, Lt. Gen. (Retired) Mehmet Yalcin Kaya.
The U.S. government was represented by Ambassador to Turkey
Francis J. Ricciardone, Jr.; Heidi Grant, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for International Affairs; and Maj. Gen. Stanley Clarke III, Chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation.
"Lockheed Martin values the partnerships we have established with the Turkish government, military and industry over the past quarter century," said Ralph D. Heath, executive vice president of Aeronautics for Lockheed Martin.
"We look forward to continuing those relationships as a partner with Turkey in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program."
The F-16 program has provided extensive industrial development and employment in Turkey over the past 25 years. The Turkish Air Force has more than 200 F-16 aircraft in its inventory presently and will take delivery of the 30 new, advanced Block 50 models between May 2011 and December 2012.