The Turkish air force has received its first of 16 McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantoms to be upgraded under a $24 million deal with local supplier Aselsan.

Dubbed Simsek (Lightning), the project will equip the strike aircraft with new avionics, navigation and secure digital communications equipment, plus replacement flight software and improved mission planning equipment. Related structural renovation work is being conducted by the air force's 1st air supply and maintenance centre in Eskisehir.

Turkish air force F-4
 © Tolga Ozbek

The effort follows an earlier project to modernise some of the air force's reconnaissance-configured RF-4Es, which delivered its first aircraft last year.

"The F-4E has been operated in Turkey since 1974, and with this modernisation it will be safer and more efficient," says air force commander Gen Hasan Aksay.

Turkey signed its first Phantom upgrade in 1994, selecting Israel Aerospace Industries to modify 54 aircraft as F-4E 2020 Terminators. Deliveries of the improved model started in 2000, and it is now operated by the air force's 111 Sqn in Eskisehir, 132 Sqn in Konya and 171 Sqn in Malatya.

The Turkish air force has 161 F/RF-4Es in its active inventory, as recorded in Flightglobal's MiliCAS database.

Source: Flight International