After delaying its first buy, Turkey has finally signed up for the purchase of its first two built by .
Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries was directed to order the first two single-engine, stealthy fighters in the Block 3F configuration on May 6, according to an announcement. Turkey joined the development program in 1999 along with eight other foreign partners. The country also is building its own center fuselages as a contribution to the program.
Ankara also has approved establishment of a final assembly and checkout and depot-level maintenance facility for the Pratt & Whitneyengine in country using “Turkish local industry and Turkish air force structure,” according to the defense ministry’s announcement. “Turkey aims to provide service to all F-35 users around the region via these facilities to be established.”
Turkey plans to buy 100 F-35s. These first two aircraft will be included in low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot 10.
Though a small step, this commitment is another endorsement for the F-35, which continues to face extreme pressure due to its years of delays and billions of dollars in cost overruns since Lockheed Martin won the development contract in 2001. U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the F-35 program executive officer, continues to stress that each partner’s commitments and timing affect the others. In the case of Turkey, its earlier decision to delay purchase from LRIP triggered a $1 million per unit price increase for each of the remaining jets in that lot.