November 17, 2001 (by Lieven Dewitte) - France has launched a last-minute bid to retain a $190 million project to install electronic warfare systems in Turkey's F-16 fleet.
The Turkish military ordered the cancellation of the initial award for the EW contract to the Paris-based Thales because of U.S. objections. The Pentagon had banned the transfer of software source codes to allow Thales to install its Fast 16 electronic warfare system in some 80 F-16 multi-role jets.
Thales has informed Ankara that it could find a way around the U.S. restrictions. In a Nov. 2 letter to Turkey
's Defense Ministry and air force, the French company said it has been negotiating with the U.S. firms ITT and Raytheon to serve as partners in the EW project.
The company said Thales would share classified data on the Fast 16 with U.S. partners as part of the Turkish EW project. The Thales offer is being considered by the two companies as well as the Pentagon.