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F-35 impact from unrest in Turkey unclear: Lockheed

A failed military coup last week will not affect Lockheed Martin’s business relationship with Turkey, though it could be too early to make that call, according to top Lockheed Martin executives.

In a Tuesday earnings call, Lockheed’s chief executive, Marillyn Hewson, and chief financial officer, Bruce Tanner, offered different views over whether recent events in Turkey would affect Lockheed’s business deals there.

“If you look at Turkey, I know there’s been a lot of churn recently,” Hewson says. “But it’s an essential security partner for the US and our allies … we have not seen an indication it will affect our business.”

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Tanner measured Hewson’s comments, saying it’s too early to call up implications for the F-35 programme in Turkey. He also notes Lockheed’s business history with Turkish aerospace companies, including the Lockheed’s foreign military sale deal with TAI to upgrade the Turkish Air Force’s F-16 fighters.

“We’ve got a long history with Turkey,” Tanner says. “They’ve been a trusted partner.”

On July 15, members of the Turkish military attempted to seize government buildings in the country’s capital of Ankara and at least two rebel pilots hijacked F-16 fighters. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the former head of Turkey's Air Force, Gen. Akin Ozturk, as the coup’s leader.

Turkey's participation in the F-35 programme goes back 14 years. The Turkish government signed a memorandum of understanding with the US Defense Department in 2002 to join the nine-member international partnership, pledging to contribute $175 million to develop the fighter. Northrop Grumman later named Turkish Aerospace Industries as a second source for producing the F-35's complex centre fuselage. In 2014, the US DOD announced that Turkey would host the first heavy engine maintenance centre in Europe in 2018, supporting the Pratt & Whitney F135 powerplant for the F-35A.

Turkey plans to order 100 conventional takeoff and landing F-35As, with the first 30 scheduled for delivery by 2022, according to a 14 June presentation by a Lockheed official at Defense Acquisition University's "Insight Day" event.

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