Turkey May Adopt Chinese Air Defence System

China’s HQ-9 is strengthening its position in the Turkish long-range missile defence tender T-LORAMIDS.

Turkey is strongly leaning toward adopting a Chinese long-range anti-missile and air defense system, Turkish procurement officials said, even though it may be impossible  to integrate the system with its existing NATO architecture.

One senior procurement official familiar with the program said the Turkish government has concluded that the Chinese proposal was technologically satisfactory, allowed technology transfer and was much cheaper than rival proposals.

The decision to select the Chinese contender awaits final approval from Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The decision would be finalized and officially announced at the next meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Committee, chaired by Erdogan, which oversees major procurement decisions. No date has been set for the meeting.

In January, Turkey restructured the $4 billion program, dubbed T-Loramids, which had originally been constructed as an off-the-shelf purchase. The contenders’ bids would remain valid, but the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) procurement office would ask bidders to submit parallel, co-production solutions. Erdogan ordered the launch of feasibility studies on “potential co-production” of the system.

T-Loramids consists of radar, launcher and intercept missiles.

The same month, SSM wrote to the bidders and asked them to send letters of intent for any co-production deal. The bidders are a U.S. partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, offering the Patriot air defense system; Russia’s Rosoboronexport, marketing the S-300; the China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp., offering its HQ-9; and the Italian-French consortium Eurosam, maker of the SAMP/T Aster 30.

T-Loramids, has been designed to counter both enemy aircraft and missiles. Turkey has no long-range air defense systems.

But diplomats and analysts warn that Turkey may not be allowed to integrate the Chinese-Turkish system into Turkey’s mostly NATO-owned early warning assets.

“I cannot comment on how the [US] administration would react to that. But I can tell you that integrating a Chinese or Chinese-Turkish air defense system into NATO assets may not be a good idea,” a US diplomat here said.

A Western industry source  said that US officials have warned the Turkish bureaucrats several times about the potential difficulties in achieving interoperability if Turkey decided to go for a Chinese or a Russian architecture.

“I see that the Turks remain defiant. But I do not think it would be practically possible to integrate either the air defense or the anti-missile components of the planned Turkish-Chinese architecture into NATO radars,” a London-based Turkey specialist said. “The Turks would have the same problem if they chose the Russian system, but I think for the Americans, China represents a more direct threat.”

About half of Turkey’s network-based air defense picture (radars) has been paid for by NATO, said a Turkish defense official familiar with NATO work. They are part of the NATO Air Defense Ground Environment. He did not comment on potential problems if Turkey wanted to make the planned system interoperable with these assets.

To defend against missile threats, Turkey needs satellite and dedicated ballistic missile detection and tracking radar like the NATO radar deployed last year in Kurecik.

For the anti-aircraft component, Turkey needs an overall picture for data fusion.  The Patriot system, for instance, can detect threats with its own radar. So does the Chinese system. But without integrating into a full air picture,  the Chinese system could not work efficiently, officials said.

“Turkey can always decide to build a stand-alone system. But in that case, abstracting the air defense system from NATO assets would mean that Turkey will lose half of its radar capabilities,” said one defense analyst here.

He said Turkey would need interface data to make its own air defense architecture interoperable with NATO assets, primarily data on the identify friend or foe system.

“This is top secret and cannot be installed into any Chinese system,” the analyst said.

Another major question, he said, is “how would Turkey have in its possession a made-in-China IFF system, and how would that system be integrated into its fleet of F-16 aircraft?

“There is an important degree of incompatibility here and all in all any Chinese-Turkish co-production program would look problematic,” he said.

DefenseNews

TAI’s Hurkus to take off in August

TAI Hurkus

TAI has delayed the maiden flight of Turkey’s first indigenously developed trainer aircraft to August. The reason of the delay is “a need for the cockpit to be overhauled in order to increase its ergonomic features and increase comfort of the pilot”, TR Defence sources at TAI confirmed on Friday.

After the cockpit of Hurkus is reassembled in line with the new configuration, a number of ground tests will follow.

TAI is also waiting on final certification approvals from EASA and Turkey’s directorate general of civil aviation, the SHGM.

 

Thales: First A400M Full Flight Simulator Ready

The first A400M Full Flight Simulator (FFS) designed and built by Thales for  Airbus Military received European Aviation Safety Agency’s qualification for training on the 7 June at Airbus Military International Training Centre in Seville.

This qualification is a key enabling milestone that allows Airbus Military to  start to train A400M flight crews for their complex missions in a safe  environment.

The Full Flight Simulator utilises aircraft hardware and software that  represents the initial configuration of the A400M aircraft cockpit and simulates  the ground and flight operations of the aircraft in various natural and tactical  environments. It includes an enhanced field of view visual system that is  capable of supporting training in all aircraft manoeuvres, including air-to-air  refuelling and low level tactical operations. A six degrees of freedom motion  system, on-board and off-board instructor stations and a record and replay  system to aid crew briefing and debriefing is also provided.

As new aircraft data is made available, Thales and Airbus Military teams are  also working to obtain Level D certification for this simulator.

Peter Hitchcock, VP Avionics, Thales UK,  says: “Thales is the leading provider of training solutions for Military Aircraft with contracts to provide A400M Full Flight Simulators and Flat Panel Trainers  to Spain, France, Germany and UK. We are proud to offer our long-standing  experience to help train pilots for this exciting and highly capable new  aircraft”.

Thales is the main supplier of the A400M’s avionics system, covering cockpit  displays systems, Head-up displays, Flight management systems, Integrated  Modular avionics, Enhanced Vision System.

Through a joint venture with Airbus Military, Thales has also been selected  by the UK MoD for the provision of its through life support training service,  which includes the design, construction and management of the A400M training  school, the installation and maintenance of full flight simulators and all  synthetic training equipment, and support to the RAF’s own course design team  and training staff.

The training school will be built at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, with  work planned to complete in Spring 2014. The school will train a range of  aircrew and ground crew in the operation and maintenance of the RAF’s 22 A400M  Atlas aircrafts.

Thales has been a world leader in provision of training services for more  than 30 years.

The Atlas A400M is an all new military airlifter designed to meet the needs  of the world’s Armed Forces in the 21st Century. Thanks to its most advanced  technologies, it is able to fly higher, faster and further, while retaining high  manoeuvrability, low speed, and short, soft and rough airfield capabilities. It  combines both tactical and strategic/logistic missions, while being also able to  be used as a tanker plane. With its cargo hold specifically designed to carry  the outsize equipment needed today for both military and humanitarian disaster  relief missions, it can bring this material quickly and directly to where it is  most needed.

Conceived to be highly reliable, dependable, and with a great survivability,  the multipurpose Atlas A400M can do the job of three of today’s different  aircraft models in a single one. This means smaller fleets and less investment  from the operator. Able to do more with less, the Atlas A400M is the most cost  efficient and versatile airlifter ever conceived and absolutely unique in its  capabilities.

Thales is a global technology leader for the defence & security and the aerospace & transport markets. In 2011 the company generated revenues of £11.4 bn (€13  bn), with 65,000 employees in 56 countries. With its 22,500 engineers and  research­ers, Thales has a unique capability to design, develop and deploy  equipment, systems and services that meet the most complex security  requirements. Thales has an excep­tional inter­national footprint, with  operations around the world working with customers as local partners.

Thales UK employs 7,500 staff based at 35 locations. In 2011 Thales UK’s  revenues were around £1.4 bn.

DefenceTalk

Welsh: F-35 is backbone of Air Force’s future fighter fleet

The Air Force’s most advanced  strike aircraft, the F-35 Lightning II, is a vital capability that the nation needs to stay ahead of  adversary technological gains, the Air Force chief of staff told a Senate panel  here, June 19.

Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on  Defense, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said air superiority is critical to the nation’s  security and how the U.S.  military plans to fight.

“The air superiority this nation has enjoyed for 60 years is not an accident  and gaining and maintaining it is not easy,” Welsh said. “It requires trained  proficient and ready Airmen and it requires credible, capable and  technologically superior aircraft. I believe the F-35 is essential to ensuring  we can provide that air superiority in the future.”

The F-35 is an unprecedented fifth generation fighter combining stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully integrated  sensors and network enabled operations, and state-of-the-art avionics. However,  design issues and production costs have put the F-35 program in real  jeopardy.

Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank  Kendall told the committee he believe those concerns have been addressed.

“The department’s and my focus has been on the efforts to control costs on  the program, and to achieve a more stable design so that we could increase the  production rate to more economical quantities,” Kendall testified. “Indications  at this time are that these efforts are succeeding.”

The Air Force intends to use a portion of the proposed fiscal 2014 budget to  support current defense strategic guidance and modernization programs like the  F-35.

“Potential adversaries are acquiring fighters on par with or better than our  legacy fourth generation fleet,” Welsh told the committee. “They’re developing  sophisticated early warning radar systems and employing better surface to air  missile systems, and this at a time when our fighter fleet numbers about 2,000  aircraft and averages a little over 23 years of age — the smallest and the  oldest in the Air Force’s history.”

Welsh said America needs the F-35 to stay a step ahead and to “make sure the  future fight is an away game and to minimize our risk to our ground forces when  conflict inevitably does occur.”

“The F-35 is the only real, viable option to form the backbone of our future  fighter fleet,” he said. “The F-35 remains the best platform to address the  proliferation of highly capable integrated air defenses and new air-to-air  threats.”

DefenceTalk

Cirit & UMTAS on show for US border protection

The company expects to also test Roketsan’s UMTAS air-to-surface missile in the near future.

Based in Mooresville, North Carolina, Iomax USA (Chalet A132) has chosen the Paris Air Show to launch its ArchAngel border-patrol aircraft. The ArchAngel has a wide variety of sensor and weapon options available and offers customers a low-cost but highly effective platform for a range of ISR and light attack missions. ArchAngel is in many ways an evolution from the Air Tractor AT-802U armed agricultural aircraft that was previously displayed at Le Bourget. However, much has changed since then.

Although no AT-802Us were produced, Iomax undertook the integration of mission systems for 24 similar AT-802i aircraft that were sold to a customer that was widely reported in the media as being the United Arab Emirates. The ArchAngel builds on that aircraft, with some important changes, not least of which is a switch of airframe supplier to Thrush. Iomax made the change as it can now incorporate its own modifications on the production line, something that was not possible with the Air Tractor.

A new avionics suite is installed, with Esterline CMC Electronics and Honeywell components and an all-new cockpit. The weapon system has also been improved, and with it the range of weapons that is available. The main EO/IR sensor turret is changed from the FLIR Systems Britestar to an L-3 Wescam MX-15, although other turrets are options. The ArchAngel can also be fitted with missile defenses, such as the BAE Systems AAR-57 CMWS, and ballistic protection is an option. Iomax has also designed a flexible pod system that can mount EO/IR sensor turret, SAR/MTI radar, Sigint sensors, video and weapons datalinks, missile and radar warners and UAV command and control systems.

Here at the Paris Air Show the ArchAngel is being displayed with a range of weapons, including the Hellfire missile and Roketsan Cirit laser-guided rocket. Iomax undertook the first firings of Cirit from a fixed-wing aircraft in January, firing the weapon from an AT-802i at a range in the Middle East. Final qualification of this weapon is expected in late August/early September. The company expects to also test Roketsan’s UMTAS air-to-surface missile in the near future, as well as an FN Herstal 0.5-in caliber machine gun pod. Both are represented on the aircraft here in the static display. GBU-12 laser-guided bombs can be dropped and guided, as well as INS-guided weapons. Iomax is shortly to fly a twin-rack launcher that it has developed for these 500-pound class smart bombs.

ArchAngel’s show debut is being made at Paris after a commendably short installation program. Iomax received the aircraft from the Thrush factory in March, and in less than three months had the aircraft back in the air in late May with its new avionics suite and cockpit. The company hopes to undertake in-country demonstrations to potential customers later in the year.

AIN Online

Turkey, US cooperate on aid to Syrian rebels

Turkey and the United States have intensified political and military dialogue for strategic planning to smoothly deliver U.S. weapons to the Free Syria Army (FSA), following Washington’s decision to supply military assistance to the Syrian rebels in their fight against the Bashar al-Assad’s army, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

On the political level, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Secretary of State John Kerry exchanged two phone calls, one on Saturday and the other late Wednesday, to discuss recent developments in Syria on the eve of a crucial core group meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People on Saturday in Doha. Kerry and Davutoğlu are also expected to hold a tête-à-tête meeting in Doha, in their first encounter since relations between the two allies were strained over the Gezi Park protests.

On the military-intelligence level, technical experts from the two countries are in intense talks to explore the best ways for the delivery of American weaponry to the FSA. Some representatives of the rebels have also been present in these meetings.

One of the most likely potential routes for the transportation of this weaponry into Syria is through Turkey, which has a long border with its southern neighbor, diplomatic sources said. Syria’s northern parts are under the FSA’s control and Turkey has stood as the best logistical center for the Syrian opposition since the turmoil broke in the country in 2011.
The Kerry-Davutoğlu phone conversation late Wednesday mainly addressed developments in Syria, following Washington’s policy change regarding arms supplies to the FSA.

No-fly zone on the agenda of Doha

“After this change of policy, they sure want to be in close coordination with us,” a Turkish Foreign Ministry official told the HDN. “The change in the U.S. position has impacts on the ground and at the political level. Just after Washington declared this change in their policy, 73 senior Syrian army officials -including some four-star generals – defected to Turkey,” the official said.
Davutoğlu is now expected to hold bilateral meetings with some of his counterparts in Doha, including with John Kerry.

The Doha meeting of 11 foreign ministers of the core group of the Friends of the Syrian People follows recent Syrian regime successes, which intensified its attacks to re-take control of the northern town of Aleppo, the country’s economic capital. The conference follows a high-level meeting in Ankara last week between the Friends of Syria, during which FSA commander Salim İdriss discussed the provision of military aid, including heavy weapons, according to Reuters.

“We will discuss everything, including the implementation of a no-fly zone over Syria,” Foreign Minister Davutoğlu said in an interview with private broadcaster TGRT late on Wednesday. The use of chemical weapons, which has been proven by the Turkish and U.S. governments, will also be discussed, while participant countries will explore how to swiftly provide aid to the opposition groups.

Aleppo is key for the FSA and Turkey

The regime’s success on the ground is seen as an warning among the international community. Regime forces’ retaking of critical passage point Qusayir, and particularly its marching toward Aleppo, were important developments on the ground that could give hope to al-Assad that he is winning the fight.
“The message we convey to the core group countries is that it’s time to give more support to the opposition. Al-Assad should not be brought to the point where he is winning the victory militarily. Because in this case, he would never approach us for a political solution,” the Turkish official stressed. Al-Assad’s achievements on the ground would make prospects for the 2nd Geneva meeting almost meaningless, Ankara believes.

Keeping the control of Aleppo is very significant not only for the FSA, but also for Turkey, which is concerned about a massive refugee influx from this town of 3 million people. An increase in the number of refugees fleeing Aleppo has recently been observed, as the total number of Syrians seeking asylum in Turkey has reached 205,000.

HDN

Turkey Picks Saab To Mentor National Fighter Program

Turkey has selected  Saab to help shape its plans to design, develop and manufacture its first national fighter jet.

Ankara has already drafted three models, one of which likely will become its first indigenous fighter, although some analysts said Turkey should have opted for an unmanned model.

“After lengthy negotiations with Saab, we have come to the conclusion to go ahead with this company to finalize our feasibility studies,” a senior procurement official familiar with the national fighter program said.

He said that the Swedish aerospace and defense group  already has assisted with the three models Turkish engineers have drafted, and these would be presented to top management at the country’s arms procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), as well as to the Air Force.

“We are working to make that presentation in September or October,” the official said.

The Saab group’s office here did not respond to questions by press time.

An official from Tusas Aerospace Industries (TAI), the local prime contractor for the program, said that one of the three drafts is a twin-engine stealth aircraft and the other two are single-engine models, also stealthy.

The procurement official said the program has two problems to overcome.

“We need to pick up the right engine manufacturer with which we should be able to work out a long-term relationship. That will be essential. Also, we need to know that a meticulously devised cost-benefit analysis should prove this is a feasible program,” he said.

A government official said the final decision on whether to launch the manufacturing phase would be made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“A lot will depend on the findings of the cost-benefit analysis in progress now,” the official said. “We would accept a certain margin that will make the Turkish fighter reasonably more expensive than available options. But if we find out that we could only manufacture a fighter, say, [at a cost] 40 to 50 percent more expensive than a proven, off-the-shelf buy option, then the prime minister would probably drop the idea.”

According to a draft plan, the country is aiming for a maiden flight for its national fighter jet in 2023, the Turkish Republic’s centennial. Production would commence in 2021, and deliveries to the Air Force are planned between 2025 and 2035. The aircraft would remain in service until 2060.

“This is a long-term plan, and given technological developments in the global aerospace scene, the Turks should perhaps have gone for an unmanned fighter,” a London-based Turkey specialist said.

Earlier, TAI signed a technical assistance deal with Saab to carry out conceptual design work. This followed an August 2011 deal signed with SSM to begin the conceptual design work for the fighter and trainer jets that Turkey hopes to build.

Designing the first Turkish fighter, according to defense analysts, is a necessary but not critical step.

“What is crucial here is whether this project would enable Turkey to earn capabilities to successfully integrate avionics, electronics and weapon systems into the chosen platform,” the London-based analyst said.

Saab produces the JAS 39 Gripen, a lightweight, single-engine multirole fighter. Saab has cooperated with other aerospace companies in marketing the aircraft and has achieved moderate success in Central Europe, South Africa and Southeast Asia. More than 240 Gripens have been delivered or ordered.

In 2010, Sweden awarded Saab a four-year contract to improve the Gripen’s equipment, integrate new weapons and lower operating costs. Last August, Sweden announced it planned to buy 40 to 60 Gripen NGs. The Swedish order followed Switzerland’s decision to buy 22 E/F variants of the jet.

For its fighter program, dubbed TF-X, Turkey hopes to copy the method devised to co-produce T-129 attack helicopters with Italian-British AgustaWestland.

“We think this model has worked successfully and could be a template for our fighter program,” the TAI official said.

Turkey also plans to buy the F-35. But Turkish officials said they wanted to develop a fighter jet with another country to reduce Turkey’s dependence on Washington.

HDN

Turkey Looks Into Fifth-Gen Complement To JSF

Turkey’s aviation industry has come a long way since it began building F-16 Fighting Falcons in the 1980s. Now it is confident that it can produce an aircraft in-country that will not only replace the F-16 but complement the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in years to come. 

Turkish Aviation Industries (TAI) has been working quietly on ideas for a fifth-generation fighter, dubbed the F-X, for several years, but 2013 represents a critical year in the decision-making process for the project. A $20 million two-year concept phase, started in August 2011, will end this September, and a meeting of Turkey’s Defense Industry Executive Committee, which takes place at year-end, will define how the program will begin to take shape.

At the IDEF defense show in Istanbul last month, TAI displayed three potential single-seat design concepts for the aircraft: two conventional monoplane layouts, one with a single engine, not dissimilar to the F-35, and one with two engines, while the third featured canard foreplanes and a large delta wing. Each of the concepts features elements of design associated with fifth-generation fighter aircraft, such as faceted fuselages to reduce radar cross-section, internal weapons bays, super-cruise capability as well as advanced avionics and an active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system. Engineers have received input from Saab, which was drafted to consult on the program.

TAI officials suggest that the two single-engine concepts will have maximum takeoff weights (MTOW) of 50,000-60,000 lb., while the twin-engine version will have an MTOW of 60,000-70,000 lb. Diagrammatic drawings of the twin-engine aircraft show two weapons bays, one located between the air intakes that can house a pair of small short-range air-to-air missiles, and the other in front of the engines housing four larger missiles around the size of the AIM-120 Amraam.

According to industry officials, the requirements defined by the Turkish air force have changed at least three times, with the specification narrowing to what TAI and Turkish industry will be able to achieve in the coming years. Of the designs shown at IDEF, the twin-engine concept meets the requirements set by the air force, say industry officials, but the service prefers a single-engine aircraft to reduce cost and complexity. Although envisaged as a multirole fighter, TAI officials say the air force may give the resulting aircraft more of an air-to-air/air-dominance role as a primary mission.

Under the current timetable, Turkey will develop the aircraft at the same time as it is paying for the F-35.  TAI wants to achieve a first flight for the F-X within 10 years. While the F-35 is set to replace the F-4 Phantoms and early F-16s in the air force inventory, the service sees the F-X replacing later models of the F-16 fleet purchased through various iterations of the Peace Onyx program. The last F-16 produced by TAI was delivered to the air force in December as part of the Peace Onyx IV program.

Tony Osborne

TSK set to receive first T-129s

T-129 ATAK Helicopter

The Turkish Land Forces is on the verge of taking delivery of their first T-129 ATAK attack helicopters as the production of the aircraft gathers momentum.

Speaking at the IDEF exhibition in 2013, company representatives stated that the army is expected to take delivery of its first aircraft in the coming weeks.

Four T-129A aircraft are now ready to be formally handed over to the army and will be used to train the initial batch of pilots and maintenance staff. In addition to these first four, three production aircraft are currently undergoing factory acceptance tests.

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the programme’s prime contractor that is assembling the aircraft, has increased production to one aircraft per month, which will be the ongoing rate through until deliveries of the 59 aircraft are completed in 2018.

Company representatives also revealed that TAI is looking at future upgrades of the aircraft, potentially including the installation of a millimetre wave radar and development of a manned-unmanned teaming capability.

Two prototypes have been manufactured and will be used to investigate the various upgrade options. In total, the programme has now done more than 2500 flight hours.

The initial deliveries will be of the T-129, which is described as a combat support aircraft and includes rockets, guns and integrated electronic warfare suite.

Development continues on the ATAK standard configuration, designated as the T-29B and includes integration of the Cirit and UMTAS missiles. The first T-129B will start qualification tests in mid-2013 – tests of the IR-guided UMTAS are scheduled to take place in July – and full production of the fully capable version is expected to start in 2014.

With the ATAK now the baseline for all future international sales of the A-129, AgustaWestland and TAI have developed a mechanism for the joint marketing of the aircraft and any specific sales drives.

While TAI took the lead for the recent campaign in South Korea, an effort that saw the T-129 lose out to the AH-64E Apache, which company takes the lead role in the future will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Meanwhile, with the Italian MoD currently carrying out preliminary studies to determine the future upgrade of its A-129 fleet, an AgustaWestland spokesman said the company’s approach would be to offer new aircraft rather than developing retrofit options to bring the fleet up to T-129B standard.

Shephard Media

Lockheed dispute clouds Turkey’s F-35 commitment

A number of countries, including Canada, Australia and Britain, have also threatened to postpone orders for the new F-35 due to numerous delays. (REUTERS photo)

Turkey has been one of the keenest partners in the multinational Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) consortium, but major disputes with the leading manufacturer in this huge program have weakened Turkish enthusiasm.

Last month, Turkeys defense procurement authorities announced they were postponing an order to purchase the countrys first two F-35 fighter jets to be built by the JSF partnership. They cited rising costs and technological failures for their decision.

Due to the current state of the JSF… and the rising cost … it was decided to postpone the order placed on Jan. 5, 2012, for the two aircraft, the undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) said. It was also said that the decision was taken because the technical capabilities of the aircraft were not at the desired level yet. But Turkey still intended to buy 100 more F-35s in the long run.

Privately, procurement officials admit there was a certain degree of psychological deliberation at work too. By that they meant a bandwagon effect, which had added Turkey to a list of skeptical partners.

An SSM official said that it would be safer for Turkey to join the skeptical partners in order not to stand alone in the dark.

In December, JSF partner Canada threatened to reconsider its purchase of the F-35. Shortly after that, Australia followed, saying that it would buy 24 Boeing-F/A 18 Super Hornets if it saw any more delays in the JSF program. European partners Britain and the Netherlands are considering delays in their orders and questioning rising costs. Also, Italy reduced its JSF order by 30 percent last year as part of a broader reduction in government spending.

But Lockheed Martin F-35 program vice-president Steve OBryan said last week: We will continue to drop the price of the airplane out to approximately 2020 where the U.S. government estimate is for an airplane, with the engine and all mission equipment, to be approximately $67 million. That is better than any fourth generation fighter out there today in terms of cost.

Thats relieving but, for Ankara only if put into a formal guarantee. Recently, the SSM requested cost guarantees from the JSF consortium. We dont want to walk in complete darkness in regards to our budgeting, said one SSM official. We want to clearly see what kind of costs would be ahead of us. Industry sources said it would be surprising if the JSF group at this stage committed itself to any price when there are several unknowns in the program. Its not only Turkey. Other partners are also wary of fluctuations in [cost] estimates and a general cost trend upwards, said one source. But I am not sure if Lockheed Martin can commit itself to any set price.

One concern for the future of the ambitious program is that any reduction in number will make individual planes more expensive, because Lockheed will be unable to spread development and other costs as widely. The average cost per plane has doubled since Lockheed won the development contract in 2001. Since then, the United States has cut its total order by 400 planes.

Lockheed says it still expects to sell about 3,000 of the fighters over the next 25 years, including 2,443 to the U.S.

Turkey, which has spent nearly $1 billion for the future fighter, is not considering an altogether withdrawal at this stage. But costs are not the only snag.
In another contentious issue, Turkey demands to obtain software source codes which the U.S. has been reluctant to share. Turkey announced in March 2011 that it was placing its order for 100 jets on hold due to the ongoing source code refusal issue. Ankara said the negotiations for access to the F-35 source codes, including codes that can be used to control the aircraft remotely had not yielded satisfactory results and that under these conditions Turkey could not accept the aircraft.

We have not inched forward for the solution of this problem, the SSM official said. We dont know what else we could do to tell our [American] counterparts that access to source codes is essential for us. The Air Force headquarters looks impatient about delays. An Air Force officer said that further delays could disrupt operational requirements and planning at the headquarters. In that case we may have to sit down with the procurement people and devise a stop-gap plan, he said.

SSM officials ruled out a potential Eurofighter Typhoon order, but say Ankara could consider an F-16 purchase. We can compensate for rising costs with larger work share for our domestic industry. We also think that technical failures are not failures but just delays. If things get worse we can consider an F-16 buy, he said.

Turkey is one of nine countries that are part of a U.S.-led consortium to build the F-35 fighter. The others are Britain, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Norway and Denmark.

HDN