As the US government navigates its tenuous relationship with Turkey following a botched military coup last week, Lockheed Martin is forging ahead with its planned production of the first two F-35As for Turkey.
Turkey would receive its first two jets in Lot 10 of low-rate initial production (LRIP). Lockheed is not assembling those aircraft yet in the factory, but assembly should begin within the next six to 12 months, Lockheed spokesman Mike Rein confirmed to FlightGlobal.
“However, there are parts for LRIP 10 jets being built as long-lead items in the supply chain,” he said.
The F-35's programme schedule calls for LRIP 10 aircraft to be ordered in Fiscal 2016 and delivered two years later.
The F-35 Joint Programme Office and Lockheed are still negotiating full contracts for lots 9 and 10.
While production has “technically” begun, the order has not yet materialised in the form of a jet, Rein said. Lockheed does not foresee any impacts from the recent coup in Turkey and will execute the programme of record with the first two jets, he added.
On 4 June 2015, the Defense Department awarded Lockheed a $920 million advanced acquisition contract for long lead time, materials, parts and components for 94 LRIP jets. The contract included long-lead items for two F-35A fighters for Turkey.