F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Turkey starts again on F-16 EW upgrade

October 27, 2001 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Turkey has succumbed to U.S. pressure and will launch a new tender to install electronic warfare systems on its fleet of F-16s.

The new competition is planned in the wake of Washington's objection to having the Paris-based Thales install electronic countermeasure systems on U.S.-made F-16 aircraft. Thales had won a deal to supply EW systems to 80 F-16s.

Officials said the government of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit will clear the way for a U.S. contractor to head the EW project. They said the military has pressed the government to restart the program and order the latest technology for the F-16s. The Thales proposal was based on requirements drafted in 1997.

At first, Turkey's Defense Ministry's Undersecretariat for Defense Industries had protested that the U.S. objection to Thales constituted another example of Washington denying Ankara key technology and software codes required for weapons upgrades. But the Turkish Air Force accepted the U.S. argument that a non-American contractor could install a system that would harm interoperability between Turkish and U.S. F-16s.

Officials said no date has been set for the reopening of the competition. The EW contract had been assessed at nearly $200 million.

Ankara also has complained of the U.S. refusal to provide the software codes for early-warning aircraft and attack helicopters being offered by American defense contractors.